How To Read Guitar Tabs - Advanced

We covered basics of guitar tablature in previous posts.Today we are going to learn few advanced notations in guitar tabs.

Tab Notation - The Basics - Part 1
Tab Notation - The Basics - Part 2

Hammer ons – A hammer on is where you pluck a note and then produce the following one with
your fret hand. Check out the following tablature:

Notice the “h” in-between the 5 and 7? That letter represents a hammer on. Put your index finger on
the 6th string at the 5th fret and pluck it. That’s one note. To produce the second note, quickly
“hammer on” the 7th fret with your ring finger on the same string while the first note is still ringing.
Since you’re not plucking the second note, you’ll need to really snap down on the string with your
ring finger so that you produce an audible sound.

Click to hear a hammer-on

Pull off – A pull off is similar to a hammer on in that you produce the first note by plucking it. The
second note is produced differently however.


The “p” represents a pull off. Put your ring finger on the 6th string at the 7th fret and your index
finger on the 5th fret on the same string. Now pluck the string. That’s one note. To produce the
second note, pull off your ring finger from the 7th fret rapidly so that the 5th fret rings.

Click to hear a pull-off

Slide – Like the hammer on and pull off, you produce the first note by plucking it. To produce the
second note, you slide your fret finger towards the second note.


The “/” character in-between the 5 and 7 means to slide up from the 5th fret to the 7th fret. Play the
note at the 5th fret and then quickly slide up to the 7th fret to sound the second note. Keep enough
pressure on the string while you slide so that the second note rings cleanly. The “\” character in between
the 7 and 5 means to slide down from the 7th fret to the 5th fret. Simply play the note at the
7th fret and then slide down to the 5th fret to sound the second note.

Click to hear a slide (up and down)

Bend – To do a bend, just pluck a string and then bend it up to increase the pitch of the note.


The “^” character represents a bend. Put your finger on the 1st string at the 5th fret and pluck it.
Immediately bend the string up to increase the pitch. Release the bend to return the note to its
original pitch. What about the 6th string? How do you bend it up? Well, you don't, because you'll
just end up pushing the string off the fret board. For the 6th string, and sometimes the 5th, just pull
them down to increase the pitch. Problem solved. :-)

Click to hear a bend

Vibrato – A vibrato is performed by bending a string up, returning it back to its original position,
and then repeating the process once more or many times over.


Look closely and you’ll notice a few “~” characters after the 5th fret note. Your guess is correct. It
represents a vibrato. Am I becoming predictable yet? Play the 5th fret note on the 1st string and then
bend it up, return it to its original position and repeat this process rapidly. You will be able to sustain
a note a bit longer by incorporating vibratos into your solos.

Click to hear a vibrato

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