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The Ultimate Guitar Tab Symbols Guide

Symbol Meaning
h Hammer on. Usually this symbol occurs inbetween two numbers. The First number represents a note that is to be played normally. The note after the "h" should be played simply by "hammering" down on the note with another finger. Since the string is already vibrating from playing the previous note, the hammer on will produce a very strong tone.
p Pull off. This is the opposite of a hammer on. It also usually occurs between two numbers, where the first number represents a note to be played normally, and the second number represents a note mean to be played by "pulling" off with another finger.
v, ~ or, = Vibrato. Vibrato means what it sounds like. It's a vibration effect produced by bending the note back and forth. Sometimes the tab will indicate how many times to vibrate by indicating multiple v's, ~'s or ='s.
s Slide. This symbol usually occurs between two notes. The first note indicates which note to play normally, the second note indicates which note to slide up to.
b, ^ or, () Bend. Bend the note to raise the pitch. Most of the time this symbol is placed between two notes. The first note is the played normally, and the second note is the one which the bent note's pitch should be raised to. Sometimes the second note isn't given.
x String mute or dead note. The string should be "muted" to produce a very suppressed tone. This can be done in a number of ways. The most popular method is probably the palm mute. This is where the edge of the palm of the picking hand is placed at the very base of the strings.
v Down stroke. The strings should be strummed downward, lowest notes first.
^ Up stroke. The strings should be strummed upward, highest notes first.

Duration Symbols

Symbols for duration are unique to guitar tab applications like Guitar Pro and Power Tab. They attempt to introduce rhythm into guitar tabs.

Symbol Meaning
W Whole note. Hold the note for the duration of 1 measure. If the piece is in 4/4, hold the note for 4 beats. If the piece is in 3/4, hold the note for 3 beats. The whole note is the only note whose duration depends on the time signature.
H Half note. Hold the note for 2 beats.
Q Quarter note. Hold the note for 1 beat.
E Eighth note. Hold the note for 1/2 beat. 2 eighth notes take up 1 beat.
S Sixteenth note. Hold the note for 1/4 beat. 4 sixteenth notes take up 1 beat.
T Thirty-secondth note. Hold the note for 1/8 beat. 8 thirty-secondth notes take up 1 beat.
X Sixty-fourth note. Hold the note for 1/16 beat. 16 sixty-fourth notes take up 1 beat.
L Tied note. Hold the preceding note for the indicated duration of the preceding note, plus the indicated duration of the tied note (L). For example, if the preceding note is a quarter note and the tied note is an eighth note, play the note for a quarter beat plus an eighth beat.
. Doted note. A dot adds half of the dotted note's duration to that note. For example, a dotted half note means to play a half note plus a quarter note, or 3 beats.
|-n-| n-tuplets. In general, a tuplet is a consecutive group of the same notes whose total value is equal to the next highest note value of the notes that make up the tuplet. "n" is a variable that indicates the number of notes in the tuplet that make up that duration. For example, a triplet is 3 consecutive notes of the same value whose total value is equal to the next highest note value of the notes that make up the triplet. Say the triplet is made up of 3 eighth notes. This would indicate that the 3 eighth note's total duration makes up 1 quarter note.

17 comments on The Ultimate Guitar Tab Symbols Guide

Ok well im looking at a tab

Ok well im looking at a tab and im trying to figure out what : Stands for.

If it's those two dots but

If it's those two dots but kinda big in front of a double bar line it means to repeat the previous setion. Either you go back to the beginning or look back and see if you see two more dots near the beginning of the section, you repeat to those if they're there, if not go to the beginning.

i still don't know wat

i still don't know wat "bending" the note means or how to do it...

bending the note means you

bending the note means you take your fingers and use force to literally bend the string up and when you do that it should make a higher tone

ok so what does "L" mean?

ok so what does "L" mean?

what does "br" mean

what does "br" mean

It means Bend/Release. So

It means Bend/Release. So you bend up the note and before the note is finished you release it back down. So if you see something like --7br--- it would sound like you playing --7--8--7-- but you do it by bending the string up.

what does x mean if its

what does x mean if its like ---8 7 8 x 3 4---

what does it mean when its

what does it mean when its like

-
- -
- -
- -
{2} {2}
{2} {2}
{0} {0}

what does X mean if its like

what does X mean if its like --- 8 7 X 8 7

In a tab im playing what does

In a tab im playing what does / mean as in 2/4 3 1p0

Slide from 2 to 4

Slide from 2 to 4

eesh 0_o i never did use ~

eesh 0_o

i never did use ~ for vibrato, i use that for tied notes.

should i not do that?

forbidden or frowned upon?

I wouldn't use ~ for tied

I wouldn't use ~ for tied notes. That's weird.

People use "L" for tied notes sometimes, which I also think is weird, but it's more common, so whatever :-)

Anyway, I think it's okay as long as you explain it somewhere. I don't think there are any real rules, just the question, "How well am I communicating?"

Hi, What does the slash mean,

Hi,

What does the slash mean, for example, 7/9? What do the slashes and hyphens mean in the following: 333/-555\-3-1?

Kaz

Hello! Slashes mean to slide

Hello!

Slashes mean to slide up and slide down. So when you see 7/9, you slide up from the 7th fret to the 9th fret. And when you see 333/-555\-3-1, you have a slide up from the 3rd to the 5th frets, and then back down to the 3rd fret.

Thanks a lot. Nice of you to

Thanks a lot. Nice of you to respond so quickly.