In this quick video I’m going to teach you how to read bass guitar tab. So lets get going…
Okay with bass guitar there are 4 lines. Each of those lines represents one of the strings on your bass guitar.
The E is the thickest string on your bass and G the thinnest. So if you imagine your bass was laid flat on its back with the string upwards, it’s that kind of bird eye view we are looking at here.
Bass guitar tab is often used for 4 string bass guitars, buy can also be used for 5 and 6 string, but more commonly 4 string basses.
So each horizontal lines represents a string and they just go in the order E, A ,D and G from thickest to thinnest.
Fret Numbers in Bass Tabs
Okay so we are now going to take a look at fret numbers in bass tab. As you can see there are numbers on the horizontal lines, which we have no established are strings. And they are simply the numbers of the frets. 1 being at the top of the neck and the higher numbers being down towards the pick ups. Most bass guitars tend to have between 20 and 24 frets and so the numbers indicate which fret to press and then depending on which line it’s on, that dictates the string.
So in the example in the above video, we have a 4 on the E string. So you play the 4th fret of the E string. Then you just work from left to right, like you would read anything else in English. So the next note would then be 3rd fret of the A string, 6th fret A string and then 7th fret D string.
So that is basicly how the numbers work. It really is quite simple once you get the hang of it and it makes playing music much, much easier, without having to go through the much more complex traditional music notation. That stuff is great but bass guitar tab is widely used online because it can be sent in a text format. Where you would have to use a drawing or image to send standard music notation. Bass tab can be typed on a keyboard, which is why it became popular on the Internet. Bass tab is also known as tablature and is really popular.
When learning how to read bass guitar tab you might also see vertical lines and they are called bars. Music is broken into bars or sometimes they are called measures. If you don’t yet know what a bar is then don’t worry about it for now, but basicly music is split into equal segments called bars.
Bass Tab Markings
Next you have the bass tab markings which you will often see on the string lines.
An H (h) indicates a hammer-on.
A P (p) indicates a pull-off.
A forward slash ( / ) indicates a slide moving up in pitch.
A back slash ( \ ) indicates a slide moving down in pitch.
A caret (^) indicates a bend.
An X (x) indicates a ghost note.
Below the Bass tab lines:
An S indicates a thumb slap.
A P indicates a pop.
A T indicates a tap. Which hand to use is often marked with an L or R and assumes you are right-handed.
I really hope this Speedy Bass TV lesson has helped you out. You now know how to read bass guitar tabs.
If you enjoyed this then be sure to check out my Speedy Bass System . I think you’ll really gonna love it. It’s a complete bass playing system and members community with over 50 video lessons check it out. You can read the page there with lots more information.
Have a great day and I hope you enjoyed this Speedy Bass lesson!
- Tom Boyd