Beginner guitarist learning to play easy songs using guitar tabs with the Simply Guitar app

This article explains guitar tabs and how to read them, and we’re serving up a list of fun beginner tabs.

Guitar tabs offer guitarists of all skill levels an intuitive medium for learning and playing the songs they love. The first steps for reading tabs and playing some dope music start with knowing how they work. Read on! 

What are guitar tabs?

Guitar tabulations or ‘tabs’ are a type of musical notation that helps you play songs. They offer beginners an alternative to reading standard notation because they’re simpler. 

Rather than notes on a staff, tabs indicate which notes and chords to play with numbers and six horizontal lines representing the guitar’s strings and frets. They’re essentially diagrams that tell you where to place your fingers along the neck.  

How to read guitar tabs?

Guitar tabs are way easier (like so much easier) to learn than standard notation, but if you’ve never seen them before, understanding what you’re looking at can be tricky. 

Before diving into some tabs, take the time to familiarize yourself with your instrument. Practicing learning notes, chords, and scales makes playing tabs hella smoother.

If you’re unfamiliar with the parts like ‘nut’ or ‘headstock’ that make up your instrument, read our blog, ‘Guitar Anatomy: What are the parts of a guitar?’ to learn about them. 

Guitar tabs staff

In sheet music, the staff is the backdrop that gives context to the musical notation–they’re a set of lines that indicate which string and fret you need to play. 

Tabs look similar, but the lines represent your guitar’s six strings (E-B-G-D-A-E), and the system itself is entirely different. 

When looking at tabs, the top line represents the thinnest string, the high E. The lower lines represent the B, G, D, A, and low E strings. And you read guitar tabs from left to right. 

Guitar frets

Frets are the metal strips that run horizontally along the neck of your guitar. Generally, a guitar has 19 to 24 frets. 

A note or chord is indicated on the lines with a number. This means you expect numbers from 0 to 24 on your tabs. 

For instance, if you see the number 1 on the top line, place your finger between the nut and the high E string’s first fret (the section closest to the headstock). The number 0 implies that you play the open string.


Identifying chords on tabs is straightforward. When you see several numbers that are vertically aligned, you’re looking at a chord. 

Guitar tabs symbols. 

Many guitar techniques can spice up your instrument’s sound. To play your songs with greater proficiency and accuracy, you need to know how to identify them in tabs.

P.MPalm muting
XMuting specific notes
Sliding up
Sliding down
P⌒Pull offs
Pick downward
VPick upward

Guitar tabs for beginners.

With access to the internet, you can easily find guitar tabs for virtually any song.  Here are some catchy riffs that you pick up relatively quickly. 

If you want access to the complete tabs, check out Ultimate Guitar–they have an impressive library.

Sunshine Your Love by Cream

Sunshine is a great tune to start with. It’s not too demanding on your fingers, and you only need to play three strings. And it sounds great!

Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison

Another simple yet catchy song you can play is Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman.’

Similarly, it’s easy on the fingers, and the riff uses three strings. 

Pro tip: listen to the song a few times to work on timing!

I Stand Alone by Godsmack 

I Stand Alone is even simpler. However, the tempo of the song is much faster. But don’t focus too much on speed. Playing quickly feels more natural by taking your time, internalizing the movements, and gradually making them second nature.


Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry 

Play that funky riff! You can play Wild Cherry’s song with just two strings in no time. However, in this riff, you’re dealing with a hammer-on technique (h). There’s no right or wrong way to learn your favorite songs–adding new steps can make things smoother though.

guitar tabs

Down With The Sickness by Disturbed

Get down with the hammer-on technique with Disturbed’s hit song ‘Down With The Sickness.’ To work on a specific technique, find pieces like this one that uses them a lot. The more you do it, the better you get.

guitar tabs

A Passage To Bangkok by Rush 

Add some additional techniques to your repertoire with Rush’s ‘A passage To Bangkok.’ 

The notes are simple, and you have two strings to focus on. However, this riff introduces you to some slides, pull-offs, and vibratos. 

Remember, patience is key!

Paralyzer by Finger Eleven 

The riff from ‘Paralyzer’ is swift. This song works on your strumming and focus. And it requires that you mute specific notes, which can be challenging for your coordination.

Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple

Playing notes tends to be easier than playing chords. Chords demand more precision from your fingers. Because of the slow tempo of ‘Smoke On The Water,’ it’s an ideal piece to start putting your chords into action.

guitar tabs

Symphony of Destruction by Megadeath 

Next, it’s time to turn up the intensity with ‘Symphony of Destruction.’

As you can see, these tabs switch between notes and chords and also require some palm muting. 

These aren’t too demanding as far as chords go, but playing and transitioning from chords is more challenging than notes. Just what you need.

guitar tabs

Shepherd Of Fire by Avenged Sevenfold 

Another fun song to play as a beginner is Avenged Sevenfold’s fiery tune, ‘Shepherd Of Fire.’ This song incorporates slides, vibratos, notes, and chords. 

guitar tabs

Guitar tabs for beginners and beyond.

These tabs are just a few fun songs you can start with, but the sky is the limit. There are tabs for virtually every recorded song ever written. 

Learning how to play the guitar requires practice. You must learn how to play chords and notes and read sheet music. Although, spending your days playing scales can become tedious. It’s like only going to soccer practice and never playing a game. Guitar tabs offer beginners an easy to play their favorite songs. 

There are plenty of avenues to pursue when picking up a new hobby. For the guitar, you can learn in a band, with a teacher, or on your own.

Regardless of the path you choose, you need to put in some work on your own. Simply Guitar is the ultimate app. It comes with bite-sized lessons that teach you everything from how to play cool tunes to reading sheet music. Give it a try today!