The Difference Between Tab and Sheet Music for Guitar
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Learning to play an instrument requires a lot of dedication. Musicians must be willing
to practice and to maintain their instrument. In addition, musicians, whether they’re
professional or hobby musicians, must be willing to learn a new language –
to be able to read music and interpret them into song.
For guitar players, there are two different forms of printed music – tab music
and sheet music. While different, it is important for a guitarist to know both forms
of music, and to be able to use them accordingly. Guitar magazines and guitar books
may feature both forms, and both have features that are important to a musician.
In addition, any musician who knows how to read both tab and sheet music will be
more competitive in the field.
Below are a few fundamental differences between tab and sheet music for guitar,
and why they’re important.
Any guitar player will immediately notice that tab and sheet music are written very
differently. Sheet music is what most musicians, regardless of their instrument,
will recognize. Notes are written on a clef (five horizontal lines), with spaces
between them. Tab music, on the other hand, is written to correspond to the fretboard
of the guitar, so there are six lines that correspond to the six strings.
Essentially, sheet music shows a musician which notes should be played, and the
rhythm of how the notes should be played (for a quarter beat, for a whole note,
etc.). In tab music, the musician is shown which strings or frets should be played.
Why Use Sheet Music?
Sheet music has its advantages. For starters, once a musician learns how to read
music, he or she can apply it to other instruments. In addition, sheet music can
pass along a great deal of information to the musician, such as harmony, rhythm
Why Use Tab Music?
Tab music also has its advantages, especially to a beginning musician. Tabb music
shows the guitarist exactly where his fingers should be on the fretboard. Tab notation
can also be very easy for a beginning musician to understand, as the graphics correspond
to the instrument in a visual way. Sheet music doesn’t have that advantage.
Any musician who is serious about playing the guitar will want to know and understand
both forms of music. Each has its advantages, and since both are considered standard
in the guitar world, it would only benefit a guitarist to be proficient at interpreting
both tab and sheet notation.