There are some disadvantages to tabs, the biggest probably being the lack of a time signature. You don’t know what the speed/tempo of the song is, the best thing to do when learning a song via tabs is to be listening to the song while you are learning it with tabs. Another minor disadvantage is that there are certain annotations that everyone writes differently, I tried to cover all of these in this document but am probably missing some.
Please see my YouTube video lessons
Part 1: http://youtu.be/FAqbkF5g3WE Part 2: http://youtu.be/Fnf03Dr3Dc8 Part 3: http://youtu.be/Q8ca0psBqBE Please also note that I am revising this document constantly, so it is being updated as I see fit.
Tab Layout and different tuning:
Here is the standard layout for tablature. The lowest (thickest) string is on the bottom being the 'E', and the highest (thinnest) string is on the top being the 'e'.
This is also where you can see if the tuning is different, for example if the tuning is "drop D" meaning the low 'E' string is tuned down to a D:
Or all the string could be tuned down a half step, so all the stings would be
'flatted' and it would look like this:
**If you don’t have a tuner you can always just ‘Google’ something along the lines of “guitar tuner online”
Now on to learning to read tablature. So in the example below you would play this by first hitting the open A string, then on the second fret play the D string, then the fourth fret on the G string, and so on. So the number is which fret to play and you can see which string to play it on, pretty simple.
Chords (and muted string):
So now to play a note all of the numbers are in a single column. So in the example below to play this first chord (which is an E) from thick string to thin (from E to e) it would be open, 2nd fret A string, 2nd fret D string, 1st fret G string, open and open. For the A and D chord you don't play all of the strings, so either the author of the tab will leave those blank or they will possibly put an "x" where you don't play.
E|0xx| > "x" means mute. This can be annotated E A A D D with an “x” or it will just be blank
When you see a column of x's that means you will simply rest your left hand
(assuming you play right handed) on the strings and will strum