The guitar is a popular instrument to play, and while you don’t have to read music to play the guitar, it certainly makes things a lot easier. Picking up some sheet music to your favorite song is one of the biggest pleasures you’ll get out of playing this instrument, but you have to know what all of the symbols and notes mean first.
In addition to the regular music, there are other notations on the paper that you’ll have to recognize, and when taken together, they make knowing exactly what you’re supposed to do a whole lot easier.
How To Read Guitar Music Notes?
There are essentially three different ways to learn sheet music written for the guitar. These include Standard Notation, Guitar TAB, and Chord Diagrams. None of them is very difficult to learn, but you’ll have to learn them nonetheless if you want to play any song correctly.
Standard notation includes basic music-reading, while guitar TAB includes numbers that tell you what frets and fingers to use. And chord diagrams are diagrams drawn vertically that show you how each chord is played. Between these three things, it will be easy for you to play the song that’s written on the sheet music.
Standard notation is the lines and notes you see on the sheet music. If you’re not familiar with reading music, here are some basics:
- The clef shown at the first of every line is called a treble clef. There are numerous types of clefs.
- The spaces hold the notes (starting from the bottom space) F, A, C, E (FACE). There are four spaces in each staff (setting of lines).
- The lines hold the notes (starting from the bottom line) E, G, B, D, F. You can remember it by quoting, Every Good Boy Does Fine. There are five lines in each set of lines.
- The time signature is indicated by a number like this: 4/4. It means that there are four beats to every measure and the quarter note is equal to one beat. This is the most common time signature, but songs also use 3/4, 6/8, 2/4, etc.
- Sharps are written as “#”, and flats are written as “b.”
Naturally, there is more to reading music than these few rules, but this is a great starting point for you. If you’re just going to strum chords to accompany you as you sing, reading music isn’t a necessity. But if you’re going to play a classical guitar in an orchestra, reading music is a must.
TAB is short for tablature, and it is represented by a set of six lines (as opposed to five) included just beneath the regular staff lines. The six lines represent the six guitar strings, and you’ll notice small numbers on each line. These small numbers tell you which fret to put your finger on, while the lines tell you which string to put it on.
For example, if you have a “2” written on the fourth line, it means that your finger needs to be on the fourth string and the second fret. The notes correspond with the notes on the staff above it, and sometimes they are chords and not single notes.
For chords, you’ll notice that there are several numbers going down, indicating where each finger will go. Keep in mind that the notes on the standard notation are always directly above the TAB diagram, so you’ll always know exactly what notes you’re supposed to be playing. If you’re not a master at reading standard notation, the TAB section underneath it should tell you what you need to do and where your fingers need to be.
Chord diagrams are visual representations of the chords you play on your guitar. They are vertical and not horizontal like the TAB and standard notation lines, and they are basically a picture of exactly where to place your finger on the fretboard. The dots on the lines (which represent strings) tell you where to put each finger, so they are very easy to read.
Chord diagrams are placed above the standard notation in the exact location where that particular chord needs to be played, so it’s easy to understand how to move from one chord to the next. The best part about chord diagrams is that, since they are well-laid-out pictures that are easy for anyone to read, they can help you learn to play a song much faster and with little effort on your part.
Even if you haven’t learned how to read music the standard way, it’s usually easy to follow along and determine how to play each of the notes. They are conveniently located above the standard notation staff and demonstrate in “picture” form exactly how each note is supposed to be played.
Conclusion – How To Read Guitar Music Notes
So, now you’ve learned about the three ways of learning the notes when you play the guitar, and while it isn’t necessary to learn all three methods, the more of them you become familiar with, the easier it’ll be to learn to play any song or piece of music you wish to play. At one time, guitar TAB didn’t include rhythm notation and therefore you’d have to figure it out yourself, but now things are different.
Current guitar TAB includes the rhythm notation which makes it so much easier to play. In many ways, there has never been a better time to start playing the guitar. In a way, you can think of all three of these methods as a way to do one thing: teach you how to play all of your favorite songs with accuracy.
If you’re going to play guitar for a long time, it’s always best to go ahead and learn how to read music, but in the meantime, you can view the guitar TAB information and the chord diagrams to make the task a little easier. Whatever you decide to do, it’s good to know that learning how to read guitar notes isn’t that difficult as long as you learn a few basic tips, and it can help you master this instrument before you know it.
Thank you for reading our article on How To Read Guitar Music Notes!