Guitar Chords Vs Tabs

guitar chords vs tabs

Tabs may help if your aim is to learn an entire song precisely, but for best results it’s better to learn chords by ear. Overly relying on charts can lead to losing sight of what makes music great – learn by hearing.

Wherever there is a curved arrow between two notes, this means the string should be bent to add expressive vocal qualities to your guitar playing.


Many songs are written in tablature, making it useful for learning individual notes or riffs. Much like chord charts, tablature shows which string to play on and the fret number that must be hit; however, unlike chord charts it does not contain rhythmic information.

As part of their effort to assist guitarists with techniques, tabs will often include symbols to aid their development. A ‘b’ indicates you should bend up (or down) by a specific amount, while ‘r’ means to release this bend. For pre-bent notes or those played through percussive rhythms a ‘pb’ means pre-bend before picking and/or while playing it while an ‘x’ indicates muted notes – useful when used within percussive rhythms!

Other symbols indicate sliding on strings, as well as hammer-ons or pull-offs. Tab can include rhythm markings like whole note, half note, quarter note etc if connected with standard musical notation but may lack rhythmic information if independent from any standard notation system.


Chords are groups of notes that can be strung together to form songs, usually accompanied by lyrics and melody. Many beginner guitarists prefer learning songs through chords before progressing onto tablatures, as learning guitar tab can be time consuming and frustrating for novice guitarists.

One of the key shortcomings of guitar tab is its inability to demonstrate rhythm. This makes it hard for novice guitarists to know whether to play faster or slower when starting out on their musical journey, making listening and reading both tablature and notation necessary for understanding how each piece should be played.

Tablature typically shows chords represented by stacking numbers atop each other and letters alongside these numbers that indicate other elements of music – for instance if you see forward slashes between notes then this means sliding from higher note to lower note and you may also come across curved arrows which tell you when and how to bend one string, giving your guitar an expressive and vocal quality.

Ear Training

Whilst learning guitar chords is certainly an important step in developing musically, in order to maximize your education it is also crucial that you gain the skills required for reading music. Not only will this enable you to better learn new songs, but it will also deepen your knowledge and increase transferrable skills.

Chord ear training involves listening to different chords and learning to recognize what sounds they create, in order to create more complex harmonies or to understand which chords can represent specific emotions.

Tabs can also be useful, as they clearly delineate which strings should be open or fretted and which have been fretted, and other techniques like palm mutes or vibrato. As a beginner, however, be wary not to get too involved with these symbols and instead focus on learning songs without too many complex techniques.


Partial chords, which do not contain the third scale degree that determines its major or minor nature, are known as partial chords and can be difficult to play but very popular among guitarists. They usually consist of root note and fifth scale degree with either double bends or vibrato (represented by an upward- or downward-curving line above or below specified fret number) added onto them.

Your tab may also feature a forward slash between two notes to indicate you should perform a slide – you can do this by playing one note then sliding your finger across to play the second (or vice versa). Other symbols on a guitar tab may indicate specific actions like ghost notes (playing one note much softer than its neighbour) or continuing ring-outs (‘p’), useful when performing jazz or other styles that use extended chords such as Cmaj7(#9)=Em7 chord extensions.