Tab Symbols, Notations and Abbreviations

How to Read Tabs

• Chart of Tab Symbols

Get Blank Guitar Tab

The ultimate table of guitar tab notation and symbols of both graphic tablatures that mostly
used in guitar magazines, books, software editors, and ASCII simple guitar tabs that popular
on the net. Apart from that, this table contains not just common tab symbols and notations
but also ones that pretty rare to encounter (closer to the bottom of the table).

You'll see that in the ASCII column there's a lot of blank cells, it's because ASCII tabs include
only main notations. This presumes that you know the song and can figure out additional playing
techniques on your own.

Graphic tablatures can also include staff notation along with a tab.
That's why I diversified the examples in order to get to used to different tab formats.

I you're new to a guitar tablature symbols I'd recommend you to bookmark this page,
and return to it whenever you'll find a strange notation.

Magazine/software guitar tab examples ASCII tab examples Abbreviations and extra info Whole name
Downstroke Symbol Downstroke Notation Symbols Downstroke
(down picking)
Upstroke Symbols Upstroke Notation Symbol Upstroke
(up picking)
Finger Numbering Notation Finger Numbering
for fretting hand
Palm Mute Notation “x” character before
muted note:

1|----------------
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|--x5-x5-x5-x5---
6|----------------



and sometimes as PM:

PM - - - - - -|
1|----------------
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|---5--5--5--5---
6|----------------
P.M. Palm Mute
Rake Notation Rake
Arpeggiated Chord Notation  Symbols for Arpeggiated Chord Arpeggiated Chord

Strumming across the strings
in the direction of the arrow.
P I M A fingering for fingerstyle guitar p i m i a i m i
1|--------0-------
2|----1-------1---
3|--0---0---0---0-
4|----------------
5|-3--------------
6|----------------
p i m a Fingerstyle Guitar

fingering system for plucking hand:

  p - thumb
  i - index finger
  m - middle finger
  a - ring finger
Artificial Harmonic Notation     A.H. or Harm.
1|---3------------
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
A.H. Artificial Harmonics
Natural Harmonic Notation 1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-----<12>-------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
N.H.

Natural Harmonics

in ASCII tabs it can also be
marked as N.H.

and sometimes as "+" symbol
above the tab.
Tapped Harmonics Notation TH
1|----------------
2|----------------
3|------12--------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
T.H. Tapped Harmonics
Pinched Harmonics Notation 1|----------------
2|--<8>-----------
3|--------<7>-----
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
a note in the triangle Pinched Harmonics
Touch Harmonics Notation TCH Touch Harmonics

a previously ringed note is touched
above the fret where TCP abbreviation stays.
String Bend Notation 1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-----7b9--------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
BU or b Bend Up
String Bend Down Notation 1|------r2--------
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
BD or r Bend Down or Release
Pre-Bend Notation 1|----------------
2|----------------
3|------pb7-------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
PB Pre-bend
Vibrato Symbol

~~~
1|--7v--or-7------
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

v or ~~~ Vibrato
Hammer On Symbol
1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-5h7--rarely-5^7
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

H.O. Hammer On
(legato Legato Symbol)
Pull Off Symbol
1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-7p5--rarely-7^5
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

P.O. Pull Off
(legato Legato Symbol)
glissando symbol
1|-10s12--or-10/12
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

s


Slide
(glissando)

"/" - slide up
"" - slide down
Tapping Symbols T
1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-12---or--12t---
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
T, + or Tapping Tab Symbol Tapping
Fret-hand Muting Symbols 1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-2-x-x-2-x-x-2-x
4|-2-x-x-2-x-x-2-x
5|-0-x-x-0-x-x-0-x
6|----------------
x Fret-Hand Muting
Tremolo Notations
1|----------------

2|-TP10- or 10tr -
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

sometimes as tr
(confusing
with the trill
notation
right below)


TP


Tremolo Picking
Grace Note tab symbol smaller number or
small note with a line across
Grace Note
(Acciaccatura)

very brief note, as though brushed
on the way to the master note.

Grace note takes its small amount
of duration from a master note.
Trill Symbol 1|----------------
2|-----7tr8-------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
tr Trill
Whammy Bar Dip Notation 1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-----1/--------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
Dip

Slightly pushing and releasing a whammy bar.

The number near the symbol means amount
of pitch to lower.
Whammy Bar Inverted Dip Notation Inverted Dip

Here the number is an amount of pitch to raise.
Whammy Bar Dive Notation Dive

Diving a whammy bar.
Dive and Return tab notation Dive and Return
Scoop (tremolo bar trick) symbol Scoop

Depressing the bar before stroking a note,
and releasing it on stroking.
Whammy Bar Bends Notation Whammy Bar Bends
Whammy Bar Gargle Symbol Gargle

(with a whammy bar)
Capo Notation Capo Capo

Fret numbering begins from the capo.
Pick Scrape Tab Symbols Pick Scrape
Tupleto Notations

3






5





6
Tupleto:

triplet






fiveplet





sixplet
Accented Note Symbol           >
1|----------------
2|-------12-------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
> Accented note
Fermata Symbol Fermata Symbol Fermata

Freely enlarge note duration.
Dotted Note Notation


Dotted Note


Dot placed to the right of the corresponding note
lengthens the note by one-half its value.

examples:

Dotted Note Explanation
Repeat Sign Tab Symbols



Repeat Signs

Beginning of Repetition - tab notation
Notes between these symbols
are played repeatedly.Ending of Repetition - tab notation
Staccato tab notation
Staccato


Dot over or under the note.

Staccato is an abruptly played note
by means of shortening duration sound
and adding a pause to its end,
Staccato Notation
the rhythm remains unchanged.
Ottava alta tablature symbol

8va


Ottava Alta


Notes on the staff along the dashed line
are played one octave higher than notated.
The reason to use 8va is to avoid
the staff to look too complex with
a lot of highly located notes.

NOTE
It's related only to the staff,
the numbers in the tablature remain
unchanged and show genuine location
on the fingerboard.

original containing 8va
Ottava alta tablature symbol
Ottava bassa tablature symbol 8rb


Ottava Bassa

Notes on the staff along the dashed line
are played one octave lower than notated.

the tab numbers remain unchanged
as with 8va next above.

original containing 8rb
Ottava alta tablature symbol

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