How to Do a Hanging Guitar Tab Into Standard Notation

Guitar tabs use a system of lines that correspond to guitar strings and numbers that correspond to the distance in half steps from the string written on. Guitarists who don’t know how to read music will use those numbers to indicate what fret to hold down to play a pitch. The process of converting the numbers into notes requires first understanding what a chromatic scale is. Once you know what a chromatic scale is, you will be able to translate the guitar tablature into notes on the treble clef staff.

Step 1: Learn the name of each string on the guitar. The highest string is E, followed by B, G, D, A and E on the lowest string. The highest E string is notated on the fourth space of the treble clef staff. The B is located on the third line. G is located on the second line. D is the first space below the staff. A is two ledger lines below the staff and E is four spaces below the staff and uses three ledger lines.

Step 2: Learn the chromatic scale. The chromatic scale consists of 12 notes: C-C#-D-D#-E-F-F#-G-G#-A-A#-B. When you move from one pitch to the next in a chromatic scale, you are moving by half step.

Step 3: Identify the first note in the guitar tablature. If a four exists on the bottom string, this means you have to notate a pitch four half steps above the lowest string, which is E. When counting half steps, do not count E. Four half steps above E is G#, which would make your first note a G# below the staff.

Step 4: Identify each note throughout the guitar tablature to determine the notated pitches. If you run into three numbers stacked vertically, that means you have to write a chord into the music. A chord is just three or more notes stacked on top of each other.

If you encounter the number zero in guitar tabs, that means to notate the open string. Tablature doesn't indicate rhythm. You will have to approximate the rhythm based on the location in the staff.


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