Reading TABS on guitar | Benefits of understanding tablature on the guitar

This content was created for Curtis Music Academy 


Back when I was learning the piano, I had never thought of any reason that sheet music could ever be confusing. That was, until I began learning to play the guitar. The most immediate thing I had realized was that treble C is located in only 1 location on the piano, whereas Treble C on the guitar is located FIVE different places. Because of this strange difference, I realized that reading tabs on guitar is way easier than reading sheet music

Now, along with any choice between pros and cons, comes with exactly that – a decision of possible benefits from one way of reading music vs the other. Reading sheet music is absolutely the most efficient way to communicate musical ideas without ever hearing the song. In fact, musical literature has developed so much that we can have two people from across the world look at the same piece of music and interpret it the exact same way, without ever saying a word to each other.


This is a major reason why many people say playing music is like speaking a new language. It is a form of interpretation and creativity that is incredibly important. So when I say that I prefer to play guitar by reading tabs, I am in no way saying that reading sheet music is inferior. Musicians and guitar players should absolutely go above and beyond to learn how to read sheet music. This will not only make them better guitar players, it will also make them better musicians.


So in the remainder of this article, I will be describing the top 3 reasons that reading tabs on guitar is better and more efficient than reading sheet music.


  1. Less ambiguity


Like I had mentioned before, when you read C on sheet music, it tells you to play C. However, That does not tell me to play C with the 2nd string 1st fret, 3rd string 5th fret, 4th string 10th fret, 5th string 15th fret, or 6th string 20th fret. I think most of us would agree that most often, you would not play C by playing your 6th string on the 20th fret. That would be insane in any genuine musical context. However, it is still available to you as a musician. By reading tabs on the guitar, you are actually able to understand immediately which string to play and with which fret you should be on. 


  1. TABS also can include rhythm markings


A large reason that sheet music purists would argue against guitar tablature is that it is much more difficult to recognize rhythms. This is very true if you go to a website online that has a random garage band who decided to write the tabs to the song. If you go to a reputable source like Curtis Music Academy, we actually create TABS that include the rhythms as well. Therefore, you will not be scratching your head wondering where the 3rd string is supposed to be played in measure 5. All of your rhythms are easily understood. That is – assuming you are able to recognize how to read rhythms. Which brings me to my next point.





Okay, so obviously, this is not a third reason why reading tabs on guitar is better than reading sheet music. This point is for every guitarist to put down that Flying V and pick up some guitar lessons. It is vital to be able to go through and learn to read sheet music on the guitar. If you are the heaviest shredder on earth, but you are unable to understand how to communicate effectively with other musicians, then your clout will be lost. Please do yourself a favor and learn to understand music theory and how to read sheet music.a

Now, with all of that being said, every musician is different with what makes sense. Many musicians are unable to read sheet music efficiently enough to sight read the music on the spot without ever having seen it before. But that is fine! There is nothing wrong with having trouble sight reading, especially if you are able to practice enough to perfect the music. There are a tremendous amount of guitar players that cannot play a song immediately after hearing or seeing the music. Everyone knows that practice is what makes the musician.

When you continue to craft your musicianship and invest time in your skill, you will be the greatest musician of all time. Each and every step towards mastering your gifting will help you to succeed at a high level. Whenever you’re ready to sit down and start reading tabs on guitar, 

Call Curtis Music Academy to help you get started. In fact, not only would we love to help you to read tablature on the guitar, we actually have documents set up specifically for you. We will help you to understand what the lines mean and what the numbers are requesting you to do. 

Many times, the most frustrating things about reading tabs on guitar are easily solved by just going through and taking the time to have someone explain it to you. And we can do this for you for just one dollar! Anyone in the world can set up their first guitar lesson at Curtis Music Academy for just one dollar. If you have absolutely any trouble understanding how reading tabs on guitar is easily accomplished after your first lesson, then we will absolutely give your money back. We always offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee to all of our guitar students.

After your time learning how to read sheet music and tablature on the guitar, we would love to set you up with whatever topics your goals require. All of our lessons are structured around your individual goals and we focus on helping our students succeed in all their musical endeavours.