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How to Read Guitar Tabs
(and chords)

Many would-be musicians who are just getting their feet wet (pre-execution) are wanting to know how to read guitar tabs and chords. This is a sensible inquisition since you cannot just play like Jimi Hendrix or Robert Page just by picking up a guitar without practice and without knowing anything about music and just playing. It doesn't work that way.

Guitar Chords

I will tell you, however, how it does work. By the end of this page, you will know how to read guitar tabs and chords. Now, guitar tabs are made of simple lines across a sheet of paper. College ruled is preferred. Mark the lines A,B,C,D,E,F which stands for every good boy does fine.

Finger positions on the guitar tabs are also an important consideration. If you have a sixth finger because of a birth defect you will excel at playing guitar. If you have a hook instead of a hand because of a bizarre pirate accident involving a parrot, a great white whale and some tapioca pudding you will also do well in playing guitar.

Now, in reading guitar tabs one must concentrate very carefully on the cleft palate of the tabs and the pull tabs. An open circle means to leave your mouth wide open as you sing along to your guitar picking. A closed circle means make a pucker face.

Now that you know how to read guitar tabs, you'll also need to know how to read guitar chords as well. Guitar chords are based upon how you grip the strings. The thumb is used on all guitar chords so you may want to do thumb wrestling with your friends (or yourself) to strengthen this appendage.

Electric guitar chords are different than those on acoustic guitars. On an electric guitar the chords are made of AC current (yes, this is true all you AC / DC fans). If you hold your fingers right you should feel the current traveling up your arms all the way to your favorite sphincter.

Now reading chords is actually simple. They are arranged by fingers and toes. So, if you grip the guitar with your fingers you have to read whether fingers 1 through 10, left to right, is supposed to grip the particular strings. Numbers 11 through 20 is for toes, left to right.

If you happen to be a chimpanzee (and chances are that you are if you have read this far), then you may need to know how to read chords with both fingers and toes at the same time. And, if you're a baboon you can use your bright red ass to form chords as well.

If you are a fetus (and chances are that you are if you have read this far) then reading and using the umbilical cord is also acceptable. But, remember, when all else fails, just freestyle, pretend that you meant to hit the chords you did, pretend that you read tabs and everything will be Okay. All will be Okay that is until people catch on that you can't read or play a lick, but this could be after a long and distinguished musical career has already taken place. Look at all of those who have already succeeded this way and you'll know what I mean.

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