How To Read Guitar Tab

Learning how to read guitar tab is an essential task for anyone new to the guitar. Most guitar players, unlike say violinists or pianists, are self taught and many have never learned how to read music. For guitarists who are able and happy to learn everything they want to play by ear, that’s not a problem. For the rest of us it makes it very difficult to learn new tunes, or it would if it wasn’t for guitar tab.

At its simplest, guitar tab is a way of representing which strings to play, where to fret them and in what order. The strings are represented by six horizontal lines, running from low E at the bottom to the high E at the top.

e————————-
B————————-
G————————-
D————————-
A————————-
E————————-

Numbers on the lines represent the fret to be played. So 0 would be an open string and 5 would mean pressing your finger on the fifth fret. Chords are represented by numbers aligned vertically, so the diagram below represents the chord of A.

e——–0—————-
B——–2—————
G——–2—————
D——–2—————
A——–0—————
E————————-

And in the diagram below, you would strum the chord of A three times.

e——–0–0–0———-
B——–2–2–2———
G——–2–2–2———
D——–2–2–2———
A——–0–0–0———
E————————–

So far, so good. The one thing that guitar tab doesn’t do is represent the timing of the notes or their length — although some tab writers denote timing using spaces between notes. So when you learn to read guitar tab and want to learn a new song, you should listen to it as you follow the tab to get an idea of timing.

Those are the basics and if that is as far as you ever go when you learn to play guitar tab, then provided you have a reasonably good ear and listen to the track your trying to play, you’ll get along pretty well. However, tab goes much further than that and has conventions for a number of the methods guitar players use to generate different sounds and tones from a guitar. So, for example, there’s notation for bending strings, sliding from one fret to another, hammering on and pulling off, vibrato, and even tapping the fret Eddie Van Halen-style.

Here are some of the notation conventions:

h – hammer on.

So 5h7 would mean play the string fretted at the 5th fret then ‘hammer on’ to the 7th fret.

p – pull-off.

So 7p5 would mean play the string at the 7th fret while also holding the 5th fret and pull-off.

e————————
B———-5h7–7p5-
G————————
D————————
A————————
E————————

/ – slide up.

So 7/9 means play the note at the 7th fret and slide up to the 9th.

\ – slide down.

The reverse of slide up.

b – bend string up.

So 7b would mean play the string at the 7th fret and bend up.

v – vibrato

Play the string at the fret noted and vibrate by rotating your wrist quickly back and forth.

So part of a solo might look like this:

e————————
B——–7v–7/9–9/7
G—-9b—————–
D————————-
A————————-
E————————-

The above is a basic how to read guitar tab guide, if you’d like to see free video guitar lessons, I recommend checking out RiffNinja.com.

The Epiphone Story

The Epiphone name first appeared in 1928 as The Epiphone Banjo Company and is derived from the nickname of its founder, Epaminondas Stathopoulo, ‘Epi’, and ‘phone’, the Greek for ‘sound.’

Epaminondas Stathopoulo was the son of a Greek musical instrument maker who made fiddles, lutes, and Lioutos in Izmir, Turkey in the late 19th Century. Stathopoulo senior, Anastasios, moved to the US in 1903 and started making mandolins as well as his existing range of instruments. After his death in 1915, Epaminondas took over and in 1918 started to make banjos.

The first Epiphone guitar was made in 1928 and the company continued making guitars until Epaminondous’ death in 1943. Following Epi’s death, control of the Epiphone Banjo Company passed to his brothers who did a poor job of running the company. In 1951 workers went on strike for four months and the company relocated from New York to Philadelphia.

During the period from 1928, Epiphone made a range of archtop guitars such as the Emperor, Deluxe, Broadway, and Triumph which were a match for those produced by arch-rival, Gibson. It was probably inevitable then that, with Epiphone in trouble and the brothers seemingly incapable of resolving the problems, the Epiphone Banjo Company was bought by Gibson in 1957.

Following its acquisition, Gibson produced a guitar which was a close copy of its ES-330, the Epiphone Casino. The Casino counted amoung its admirers, three Beatles. Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon all bought one and McCartney’s can be heard on his solo on Taxman. It’s also very much in evidence on the Revolver album. Lennon used the Casino regularly after that, both as a Beatle and a solo artist and McCartney still uses his today. McCartney also uses an Epiphone acoustic when performing Yesterday in concert.

Since the 1970’s the Epiphone brand has largely been used to produce less expensive versions of Gibson guitars, such as the SG and several versions of the Les Paul, first of all in Japan, then in under licence in Korea. Since 2002, Gibson has made Epiphone guitars in its own factory in China.

In addition to electric and acoustic guitars, Epiphone also makes amplifiers, such as the Epiphone Valve Junior.