How to write guitar tablature

Introduction: How to Write and Understand Guitar Tabs

How to write guitar tablature

By Tunesrlife Follow

How to write guitar tablature

What good is creativity without an outlet? About as good as words without a language. Tabs are another way of writing music that works especially well for guitar. In this instructuable, I will teach you how to read, write, and understand tabs so you can put “words” to your auditory ideas without tedious memorization of traditional sheet music. It’s surprisingly simple and rewarding.

Step 1: Know Your Guitar

First, before learning to play music, a basic understanding of your instrument it fairly necessary. Picture a guitar sideways- with the head of the guitar to the left and the bridge farthest to the right. The vertical lines on the neck of the guitar are called the frets. The strings, in order from top to bottom (or small to big, high to low) are a high E note, a B note, G, D, A, and lastly a low E. The mnemonic that helped me when I was learning was Every Bad Guitar Doesn’t Actually Exist.
Knowing this just makes understanding what other people are talking about, guitar-wise, a lot easier.

Step 2: The Tabs

Tabs are a simplified version of writing music that works especially well for guitar. Sheets for writing tabs have 6 lines. 6 lines just like there are six strings on a guitar. How convenient.
The top line signifies what should be played on the high E string. The second from the top is the B, third, G, and so on.
Numbers on the coresponding lines tell you where to put your fingers. A number 2 tells you to put your finger on the second fret. A 10- tenth fret. You get the idea.
The notes are read from left to right. For example, in the picture below, you would play 2, then 1, then an open E, then a 1 again. Just like regular reading. You dont skip around. Pretty simple, right?
One of the beauties of tabs is that you can write them just about anywhere you can draw 6 lines. This happens to be the back of my history homework.

Step 3: Fancy Stuff

I am a self taught guitarist, among many other successful musicians. In fact, there are a surpirsing amount of famous players who never learned to read traditional music. Hendrix, Slash, BB King, and Paul McCartney are just a few.
But those guys don’t just play single notes in a row. Slash doesn’t play twinkle twinkle little star. And with good reason. Why accept avoidable limitations that detract from your musical agency?
Because I just kind of picked up a guitar and put two and two together, (6 strings, 6 lines. hm?) the fancy stuff was something I didn’t come across until later on. But what happens when you see something like this?

Pandemonium! Lawlessness! Those are letters, and they’re not even note letters! H.

Here are the basics
b is for bending
h is for hammer on
p is for pull off
/ is for slide

is for vibrato
* is for harmonic
X is for muted

These are just the publicly known symbols. If you have your own, that’s just fine if it helps you more easily. For sharing with others though, this is good to know.

Step 4: Explanations

Hammer on? Don’t have a hammer.
Here are the translations.
Bear with me.

When you see a b, bend the string slightly to change its pitch. Try it. The best gauge is to listen to the song you are trying to play. The one downside to tabs is that no tempo/length of notes is signified, so you really just have to listen, learn, and get a sense for your piece.

When you see an h, it will always be between two notes. It means to “hammer on” from a note. For example, in 2h3, you pick while your finger is on the two, and then put your finger down on the 3rd fret as the string continues to ring. This can make picking more smooth sounding and less complicated. If there is no number before, for example, if you just had a h6, you play the open string, and then press down the 6th fret.

A p is nearly the opposite of a hammer on. It is called a pull off. Instead of placing your finger down when the string is ringing, take one off, but make sure that before you do, your other finger is placed in the correct spot. With 5p3, put your fingers on the 5th and 3rd fret. Pluck and the one that will sound is the 5th. Pull off without plucking, and the one that will sound now is the 3rd.

The / in between notes indicates to slide. Pluck the first note, and continue to press down the string until you reach the other note. Just like the last one, if there is no first note, play it open, hammer on from the first fret, then slide, all in one smooth motion.

indicates a vibratto. This means that you have to wiggle your finger a little bit, creating a bit of a vibrating, bendy noise that keeps the string ringing longer. Its more of a stylistic sort of thing, and it’s not absolutly necessary, but it adds a lot of feeling to a piece if used correctly.

When a * appears near or above a note, this means that you hit the harmonic. Harmonics can be a little tricky and can become complicated. If you’re just learning how to do tabs, that’s probably a lesson for another day, but don’t let that stop you from atleast trying it. If you see a *12 on the high E string, that means to lightly place your finger on the area of the 12th fret, but dont push down- just touch it. You may have to play around with it a little bit, but it should end up making a softer, higher pitched noise.

Notes right under eachother indicate that they are played at the same time, in a chord. For example, a C chord. All the notes are pressed and strummed simaltaneously.
0
1
0
2
3
x

An X indicates that a string is muted. This means you place your finger on it in such a way to stop the ringing of the string. Not to be confused with the harmonics. With harmonics, you want a spacific noise. With muting, you’re, well. muting it.

The following tutorial will help to explain the basic concept of how to read guitar tab. Although it may seem complex, learning tablature is quite simple, and you should find yourself reading guitar tab in no time.

Guitarists are a unique breed. Chances are if you play guitar, you are either self-taught or have learned the basics from friends. If you were a pianist, you would have learned the instrument through years of private study, which would include both music theory lessons, and with a heavy focus on “sight reading.”

There is nothing wrong with taking a more informal approach to learning music, but one of the basic skills that invariably gets ignored is learning to read music. Learning to sight read takes a reasonable amount of work, without immediate benefit, and it is these sort of skills that self-taught musicians tend to avoid.

If you want to get serious about a career in the music industry, learning to read music is essential. For the casual guitarist, however, there is a guitar-centric method of music notation called guitar tablature, which while flawed, provides a simple and easy to read way of sharing music with other guitarists. Read on to learn more about how to decipher guitar tablature.

Understanding the Tab Staff

A tab staff for guitar has six horizontal lines, each one representing a string of the instrument. The bottom line of the staff represents your lowest "E" string, the second line from the bottom represents your "A" string, etc. Easy enough to read, right?

Notice that there are numbers located smack dab in the middle of the lines (aka strings). The numbers represent the fret the tab is telling you to play. For example, in the illustration above, the tab is telling you to play the third string (third line) seventh fret.

Note: When the number "0" is used in tablature, this indicates that the open string should be played.

This is the concept of reading tab, at its most basic. Now let's examine some of the more advanced elements of reading tablature notation, including how to read chords in a tab.

Introduction: How to Write and Understand Guitar Tabs

How to write guitar tablature

By Tunesrlife Follow

How to write guitar tablature

What good is creativity without an outlet? About as good as words without a language. Tabs are another way of writing music that works especially well for guitar. In this instructuable, I will teach you how to read, write, and understand tabs so you can put “words” to your auditory ideas without tedious memorization of traditional sheet music. It’s surprisingly simple and rewarding.

Step 1: Know Your Guitar

First, before learning to play music, a basic understanding of your instrument it fairly necessary. Picture a guitar sideways- with the head of the guitar to the left and the bridge farthest to the right. The vertical lines on the neck of the guitar are called the frets. The strings, in order from top to bottom (or small to big, high to low) are a high E note, a B note, G, D, A, and lastly a low E. The mnemonic that helped me when I was learning was Every Bad Guitar Doesn’t Actually Exist.
Knowing this just makes understanding what other people are talking about, guitar-wise, a lot easier.

Step 2: The Tabs

Tabs are a simplified version of writing music that works especially well for guitar. Sheets for writing tabs have 6 lines. 6 lines just like there are six strings on a guitar. How convenient.
The top line signifies what should be played on the high E string. The second from the top is the B, third, G, and so on.
Numbers on the coresponding lines tell you where to put your fingers. A number 2 tells you to put your finger on the second fret. A 10- tenth fret. You get the idea.
The notes are read from left to right. For example, in the picture below, you would play 2, then 1, then an open E, then a 1 again. Just like regular reading. You dont skip around. Pretty simple, right?
One of the beauties of tabs is that you can write them just about anywhere you can draw 6 lines. This happens to be the back of my history homework.

Step 3: Fancy Stuff

I am a self taught guitarist, among many other successful musicians. In fact, there are a surpirsing amount of famous players who never learned to read traditional music. Hendrix, Slash, BB King, and Paul McCartney are just a few.
But those guys don’t just play single notes in a row. Slash doesn’t play twinkle twinkle little star. And with good reason. Why accept avoidable limitations that detract from your musical agency?
Because I just kind of picked up a guitar and put two and two together, (6 strings, 6 lines. hm?) the fancy stuff was something I didn’t come across until later on. But what happens when you see something like this?

Pandemonium! Lawlessness! Those are letters, and they’re not even note letters! H.

Here are the basics
b is for bending
h is for hammer on
p is for pull off
/ is for slide

is for vibrato
* is for harmonic
X is for muted

These are just the publicly known symbols. If you have your own, that’s just fine if it helps you more easily. For sharing with others though, this is good to know.

Step 4: Explanations

Hammer on? Don’t have a hammer.
Here are the translations.
Bear with me.

When you see a b, bend the string slightly to change its pitch. Try it. The best gauge is to listen to the song you are trying to play. The one downside to tabs is that no tempo/length of notes is signified, so you really just have to listen, learn, and get a sense for your piece.

When you see an h, it will always be between two notes. It means to “hammer on” from a note. For example, in 2h3, you pick while your finger is on the two, and then put your finger down on the 3rd fret as the string continues to ring. This can make picking more smooth sounding and less complicated. If there is no number before, for example, if you just had a h6, you play the open string, and then press down the 6th fret.

A p is nearly the opposite of a hammer on. It is called a pull off. Instead of placing your finger down when the string is ringing, take one off, but make sure that before you do, your other finger is placed in the correct spot. With 5p3, put your fingers on the 5th and 3rd fret. Pluck and the one that will sound is the 5th. Pull off without plucking, and the one that will sound now is the 3rd.

The / in between notes indicates to slide. Pluck the first note, and continue to press down the string until you reach the other note. Just like the last one, if there is no first note, play it open, hammer on from the first fret, then slide, all in one smooth motion.

indicates a vibratto. This means that you have to wiggle your finger a little bit, creating a bit of a vibrating, bendy noise that keeps the string ringing longer. Its more of a stylistic sort of thing, and it’s not absolutly necessary, but it adds a lot of feeling to a piece if used correctly.

When a * appears near or above a note, this means that you hit the harmonic. Harmonics can be a little tricky and can become complicated. If you’re just learning how to do tabs, that’s probably a lesson for another day, but don’t let that stop you from atleast trying it. If you see a *12 on the high E string, that means to lightly place your finger on the area of the 12th fret, but dont push down- just touch it. You may have to play around with it a little bit, but it should end up making a softer, higher pitched noise.

Notes right under eachother indicate that they are played at the same time, in a chord. For example, a C chord. All the notes are pressed and strummed simaltaneously.
0
1
0
2
3
x

An X indicates that a string is muted. This means you place your finger on it in such a way to stop the ringing of the string. Not to be confused with the harmonics. With harmonics, you want a spacific noise. With muting, you’re, well. muting it.

How to write guitar tablature

Guitar tabs are a form of musical notation that tell the player where to put his or her fingers on the guitar neck, rather than what note and pitch to play. Many believe that tabs are a new form of writing music, but in actuality tabs have been used for centuries. Many find that they are much easier to read than the standard form of musical notation.

Guitar tabs appear similar in some ways to other musical notation. A staff is drawn with six horizontal lines that represent the six strings of a guitar, with the top line being the high E string, and the bottom line the low E string. A number on one of the lines represents which fret should be held down to produce a typical note. For example, a three on the bottom line would indicate that the next note in the song is a G, played on the low E string.

Chords are represented on guitar tabs in much the same way as notes. The G power chord would be represented as a three on the top line of the staff (sixth string) with a five on the two lines directly below. Many tabs will also put the letter representation of the chord above the tablature to aid the reader in determining the chord.

Guitar techniques can also be easily written into guitar tabs. Usually each tab will have a key to explain the symbols. Slides are often represented with a forward slash between the two notes or chords. Hammer-ons, when in a book of guitar tablature, are often represented as an arc above and between two notes, with the pull off a reversed arc underneath them. A slide is often represented with a tilde symbol (

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Discussion Comments

In order to fully understand and innovate using new chords of diverse forms, the scales must be learned. These can be learned in the traditional musical score or by using guitar tabs. The problem with learning them by tabs is that you will be unable to translate them to other instruments, since there are no standardized "piano tabs" or "violin tabs." Tufenkian925 February 28, 2011

Learning scales is more important than learning tabs. Once you have various scales down, you are able to more appropriately view tabs and recognize the larger pattern of the melody and the rhythm. This enables you to effectively innovate new riffs in a jam session without going off key. klow June 2, 2010

Among experienced guitarists, there is quite a lot of debate over the value of guitar tabs. Some say that this form of notation is incomplete because it doesn’t accurately depict the rhythmic component of a given song. Most tabs just show the guitar part strung together without any indication of syncopation or offbeat patterns. Tabs are also notorious for often being incorrect representations of guitar parts. This is often true, especially with more complex songs where a particular guitarists unique approach to chord voicings and arrangement are shown incorrectly. On the other hand, many guitarists believe that they are good, unintimidating way for beginning guitarists to learn songs they like.

I personally think that tabs are a great launching point for the beginning guitar player. Once a guitar player gets more comfortable experienced however, they should start learning songs by ear if they want to explore the subtleties of the instrument.

Sign up for an Account to Save your Tabs. Just click on Sign up link. Don’t worry, you can import the tab you are working on! If you would like to keep your tabs private, that will require becoming a Premium Member.

Take the Tutorial!
Press the button to begin tutorial on how to use guitar tab creator!

Start a New Chord or Interval End Making a Chord or Interval
Add another set of notes to the tab
Click here to mute a string.
Stave Controlshelp
Insert:
Edit:
Delete: Delete
Stave Visibility
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Choose Instrument:

Welcome Modal

Guitar Tab Creator is a free tool designed to help you create properly formatted guitar tab. While it is free to use, I have been working on this project for over a decade. If you find it useful, I would appreciate any donation so that I can keep the site free from advertisers. The tool is simple enough for beginners, all you need to do is click on the fretboard and items in the toolbar, and your tab is created for you. Guitar Tab Creator supports more instruments than just the six string guitar: you can choose from our collection of guitars and basses. Also, we have a huge collection of tunings for each instrument, but you can also create you own custom tunings. Guitar tab creator has many more features than that, and, after signing up for a free account, also includes an editor that allows guitarists to navigate tabs more easily, use the keyboard to create tab, and cut, copy and paste sections of your guitar tab. Once your tab is created, you can play back chords using our midi interface, print out a formatted copy, and share it on other sites.

There is a lot to learn. If you’d like, we can go through a tour of the features of the tool, that includes links to the help section, where we have created videos for you to watch and learn about the site. Or, if you are ready, you can close this window and start creating guitar tab.

This site uses cookies to store tabs and we do use google analytics and adsense, please review their policy here. By continuing to visit this site you agree to our use of cookies.

How to write guitar tablature

Software solutions to create guitar tablature should be present on every music enthusiast’s computer. Such tools usually come with the ability to create guitar music sheets and the most commonly used symbols in tablature.

There are lots of programs that allow you to create guitar tabs and we gathered five of the best ones in order to make your choice easier. Check them all out and make an informed decision.

Top 5 software to create guitar tabs

Power Tab Editor

How to write guitar tablature

Power Tab Editor is a tablature authoring program for any system running Windows.

Using it, you will be able to create guitar sheet music aka guitar tablature or bass tablature.

Here are the key features of Power Tab Editor:

  • Provides chord names, chord diagrams, bends, rhythm slashes, harmonics and more
  • Useful for beginners and aspiring musicians who want to learn how to play guitar
  • Can be used with both electric and acoustic guitar players
  • Creates, reads and plays guitar and bass tablature in the .ptb format
  • Excellent for beginners and experienced guitarists to transcribe their music and guitar lessons

→ Download Power Tab Editor

LilyPond

How to write guitar tablature

LilyPond is another useful software that provides music notation for everyone. This music engraving tool is devoted to creating the highest-quality sheet music.

Here are the key features of LilyPond:

  • Brings the aesthetics of traditionally engraved music to computer printouts
  • Perfect for users who want to learn how to play the guitar
  • Free software, part of the GNU Project
  • Great for classical music, modern music, complex notation, vocal music, lead sheets, orchestral projects, educational materials, and customized outputs

→ Download LilyPond

TablEdit

TablEdit is a tool for creating, editing, printing, and listening to tablature and sheet music for guitar and other stringent, fretted instruments.

Here are the key features of TablEdit:

  • Designed by guitarists for guitarists
  • Supports both tablature and standard notation, featuring instant conversion from one format to another
  • A tabbed interface allow the opening of multiple TablEdit files at the same time
  • Supports English, German, French, Japanese and Spanish as interface languages
  • Provides virtually unlimited language support, with 17 available language patches
  • Edit and print songs in multitrack mode
  • Save an image of the printed output in a variety of graphics formats
  • More features like effects, alternate tuning, note duration control, custom chord diagrams, and lyrics management

TablEdit is distinguished by its minimal sized and optimized code for loading and running.

→ Download TablEdit

Guitar Pro

How to write guitar tablature

Guitar Pro is ideal for creating, playing and sharing your tabs. The latest version comes with a wide range of features and enhancements.

Here are the key features of Guitar Pro:

  • Edit your music scores and tablature for bass, guitar, and ukulele
  • Create backing tracks for drums and piano
  • User-friendly for musicians who want to compose music, improve their skills, or just play along
  • Redesigned interface and better rendering of your scores
  • New tools and audio improvements

→ Download Guitar Pro

Aria Maestosa

How to write guitar tablature

Aria Maestosa is an open-source midi sequencer/editor. This tool comes with a few interesting and useful features for musicians and beginners.

Here are the key features of Aria Maestosa:

  • Compose, edit and play MIDI files with just a few clicks
  • Easy interface, even for PC users with no previous experience in software tools for writing guitar tabs
  • The UI comes with score, guitar, keyboard, controller, and drum views
  • Supports multiple languages, including Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, and Russian

→ Download Aria Maestosa

Here’s where our list of the best five tools for creating guitar tablature comes to an end. Make sure to check out all these tools’ functionalities and features before you make your final pick. Have fun!

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the interactive guitar learning tools we selected since they can also teach you how to write guitar tabs.

Yes, MuseScore supports tabs. It actually has a video tutorial about tablature and drum notation you can check out online. Besides, MuseScore is one of the best tools to play music sheets.

Use one of the software solutions we mentioned above, like Aria Maestosa, to easily convert MIDI into tabs.

After brief forays into LilyPond and TuxGuitar (and a failed attempt at running Guitar Pro in Wine), I’ve settled on MuseScore for my guitar tabbing needs. Here are some notes on how I produce tab files like this one:

For more advanced topics, check out MuseScore’s Tablature handbook.

Creating a new file

  1. In the new score wizard, enter Title and Composer
  2. Select the “Choose new instruments” template
  3. Add “Acoustic Guitar” or “Classical Guitar”
  4. Select the newly added staff, click “Add Linked Staff”, and change that second staff’s type to “Tab. 6-str. common”

Customizing the music font

In “Format” > “Style” > “Score”, set the music symbols font to Bravura. The default choice of LilyPond’s Emmentaler works fine, but I prefer heavier fonts for legibility.

Styling the tab staff

I find MuseScore’s default tab style pretty noisy and hard to read. Keeping note values and ties confined to the standard staff results in a cleaner tab staff.

  1. Right-click the tab staff and select “Staff/Part Properties”
  2. Click “Advanced Style Properties”
  3. Change the font to Musescore Tab Sans
  4. Decrease the font size to 8pt
  5. Uncheck “Show back-tied fret marks”
  6. In the “Note Values” tab, select “Shown as: None”

Note entry

A natural way to write your score might be to fully complete each measure before moving on to the next one, but unfortunately this is probably the slowest and most annoying way.

A much faster method is to write your score one layer at a time:

  1. Fill the first measure with eighth rests
  2. Create several dozen new measures and copy the first measure’s rests into them
  3. Starting back at the first measure, use your computer’s numpad and arrow keys to enter all of the song’s note pitches into the tab staff as eighth notes
  4. Repeat step 3 for voices (and then for note values, then for articulations, etc.)

Note that by the end of step 3, your tab staff is already 99% done! You can just consider your score finished at that point if you don’t care about the standard staff.

Performance techniques

Since MuseScore is intended as a general-purpose score editor for all instruments, expressing guitar-specific performance techniques sometimes takes a little creativity.

Hammer-ons and pull-offs

These are usually written as slurs. Since slurs are visually similar to ties, you’ll want to hide all ties in the tab staff first.

  1. Complete all aspects of your tab except for hammer-ons/pull-offs
  2. Right-click a tie (if any exist) in your tab staff and choose “Select” > “All Similar Elements in Same Staff”
  3. Hit v to toggle all selected ties’ visibility to invisible
  4. On the starting note of each hammer-on/pull-off, hit s to create a slur to the next note

Slides

I use a straight glissando for slower slides and an appoggiatura for faster slides. Both marks are available in the “Palettes” pane. Dragging a glissando to the tab staff (as opposed to the standard staff) will produce a clean line without the unnecessary “gliss.” text.

Slaps

  1. Enter each slap as an E2 note, i.e. fret 0 on the low E string
  2. Hold down Ctrl , select those 0’s, and hit Shift+X to display them as X’s
  3. In the standard staff, select the corresponding note heads and set “Head group: Cross” in the Inspector pane

Note that these X notes do make sound as E2 during audio playback, although they’re at least low enough to not be overly distracting. MuseScore doesn’t really provide a perfect solution to this problem, pointing to the fact that it’s primarily a score editor and not a score player.

Generating PDFs from the command line

To be extra fancy, you can set up inotifywait to run this command on save.

In order to correctly place the notes on the strings, Finale needs to know what fret to use as the lowest. If you wish for a particular passage to be played further up the neck, you can specify the lowest fret for Finale to use.

Finale now displays the fret numbers representing the pitch as played on the lowest possible fret in standard guitar tuning. Look at the first beat of measure two and notice that this number displays in yellow. This is how Finale displays a note that cannot be played with the current lowest fret or tuning. In order to play this passage, this pitch will need to be changed. We’ll do that next.

Changing the string and fret number

You can edit tab numbers and move them between strings manually with the Simple Entry tool. This method gives more control over the movement of single and non-contiguous fingerings.

To change the string and fret number:

Note. When using Simple Entry on TAB staves, the keyboard commands are slightly different than with standard notation staves and will use both the number pad numbers and the QWERTY numbers on your keyboard to accomplish various tasks. For the purposes of this exercise, QWERTY numbers will be specified as such. All other numbers will be from the number pad.

  1. Click the Simple Entry tool .
  2. CTRL +click the first note in measure 2 to activate it. Let’s move this up an octave so the performer plays the note on the open D string.
  3. Press the UP ARROW twice to move it up to the fourth (D) string. You will see that this fingering has moved to the new string and fret, and the number has changed accordingly (to “-12” indicating the pitch is 12 chromatic steps, or one octave, too low for the open string).
  4. Type 0 on the number pad. Laptop users, press the + key until the fret number reads “0.” Since we’ve changed the pitch of the tab, we also need to modify the notation in the staff above. Fortunately for us guitarists, no thinking is required. Just copy the tab up to the standard notation staff.
  5. Choose the Selection tool .
  6. Click measure 2 in the tab staff and drag to the staff above. The music updates automatically.

You could also press the + (plus) or (minus) key to raise or lower the fret number by one (chromatically). Remember that when you change the fret number, you are effectively changing its pitch. If there were notation in the accompanying staff, you would need to be sure to adjust the notation accordingly.

  1. Now, copy using the Selection tool and edit with the Simple Entry tool to add the tablature from measure 5-8.

Entering directly into a tab staff

In addition to copying from a standard notation staff, you can also enter tab directly into a tab staff, either with your mouse or your computer keyboard. This comes in handy if you are working with a tab staff only, or already know the tablature and not the standard notation.

To enter directly into a tab staff with Simple Entry:

  1. Click the Simple Entry tool .
  2. Click the Eighth Note (in the Simple Entry palette). You will need to choose the rhythmic value of the entry first so Finale knows its duration and how to properly space each fret number.
  3. Click the TAB staff on the low (E) string in measure 9. A “0” (zero) appears. When you click directly into a tab staff, you will always see a “0” first.
  4. Type 3.
  5. Click the fourth (D) string to add the next note. Leave this one as 0.
  6. Type ENTER to activate the Simple Entry caret.
  7. Use the ARROW KEYS to move the caret to the fifth (G) string.
  8. Type ENTER. A “0” appears.
  9. Use the ARROW KEYS to move the caret back to the fourth (D) string and type ENTER. Now, we need to change durations to a quarter note.
  10. Press CTRL + ALT +5 (or click the Quarter Note tool). The caret changes to a quarter note. (Remember, you must type 5 in the number keypad).
  11. Move to the 2nd (B) string, click the Quarter Note tool, and type ENTER. Now, we’ll select the eighth note duration.
  12. Press CTRL + ALT +4 (or click the Eighth Note tool). The caret changes back to an eighth note.
  13. Move to the 5th (A) string and type 2, 3.
  1. Now, enter the next two measures of tab as shown, using either the Simple Enter Caret or clicking the notes onto the staff. When you get to beat 3, remember you will need to change the duration to a quarter note.

How to write guitar tablature

  1. Enter the tab for measure 12-14 as shown using whichever method you prefer.

How to write guitar tablature

Adding chords in tab staves

You can also add multiple notes on the same beat to build a chord, either by clicking them in with the Simple Entry tool, or by adding them with the keyboard. Adding notes on a tab staff with keyboard commands is slightly different than adding them on regular staves:

To add chords in a tab staff:

  1. CTRL +click on beat 3 of measure 15 in the tab staff. The “0” should be selected.
  2. Type ALT +QWERTY keyboard 2. Finale adds a “0” on the 2nd (B) string above the fret number that’s already entered.
  3. Type 1. The “0” changes to a “1”.
  4. Press RIGHT ARROW and type ALT +QWERTY keyboard 2.
  5. Type 1 to change the note to the 1st fret.
  6. Complete the last three measures using the techniques you’ve learned.

How to write guitar tablature

Note. Press the TAB key to enter rests. Since rests are generally not displayed on tab staves, the rest is hidden. It will display as a shaded rest in the score, and will not appear in the printout. To see a list of Simple Entry keyboard shortcuts from the Simple menu, choose TAB Specific Commands.

Note. Instead of typing the string and fret number, you can also use a MIDI device to enter tablature with the Simple Entry Caret. First, from the Simple menu, ensure Use MIDI Device for Input is checked. Then, with the Caret active, choose the rhythmic duration and then play the note. Finale will place the fret number on the appropriate string.