Reading Guitar TAB Step 2: Exercises and Basic Tunes - Online Guitar Lessons

Reading Guitar TAB Step 2: Exercises and Basic Tunes

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In this lesson we are going attempt an exercise, another scale and a couple of songs, all using what we learnt about TAB in the lesson before. If you’re not sure yet on how to read TAB, it’s important that you go back to the previous lesson and go over the basics.

reading guitar tab

First of all, lets have a go at an exercise that is designed to stretch your fingers. Not only will this make your fingers stronger, it will help develop your coordination. Both strength and coordination are necessary to be able to play the guitar well, so make sure you practice this regularly.


With this exercise all you do is simply work your way from the 1st fret to the 4th fret on each string. Start on the 6th string and work your way across to the 1st string. When you get to the 4th fret on the 1st string, see if you can work you way back through to the 6th string, this time descending not ascending.

It’s very important with this exercise that you use a separate finger for each fret. Spread your fingers out as shown below:

  • 1st fret- 1st finegr
  • 2nd fret- 2nd finger
  • 3rd fret- 3rd finger
  • 4th fret- 4th finger

As the whole aim of this exercise is to gain strength and control with each finger, you will be missing the point and not benefiting from the exercise if you don’t spread your fingers out over the four frets used.

Next we have another major scale, this time in the key of E. Make sure you practice both this scale and the C major scale (lesson 4) as the have different layouts and will help you to get to know slightly different areas of the neck.

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E major one octave guitar tab

  • make sure you spread your fingers out with all the scales and exercises, using one finger per fret *


Finally, we have two pieces for you to have a go at. Along with the scale and the exercise, make sure you practice the whole lesson regularly in order to develop your speed and accuracy.

Drunken Sailor:

You shouldn’t find this piece much harder than the scales or exercises you have been shown already. The only difference is that it’s slightly longer than a scale and also follows a melody. Take a look at the video to see how it should be played and also to see how all the notes fit into the tune.

drunken sailor guitar tab



Happy Birthday:

I’d be very surprised if anyone on this website doesn’t know how this tune goes! Because you should be familiar with the melody, playing it on guitar shouldn’t pose too many problems. Again, check the video to hear and see how it should be played.

happy birthday guitar tab

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