In the modern era, guitar tablature, or TAB, has all but taken over written music for the guitar. And, to be honest, there are 2 really important reasons:
First, it’s much easier to read a number than a dot…
Second, there is no possibility of error. You are given a fret and a string, and that can only happen in one way. With most notes, there are anywhere between 1 and 4 or 5 ways to play them, depending on which position and which string you choose.
However, there are a couple of disadvantages to TAB as well:
For one, rhythmic notation is usually not included. If you want it, you have to use the standard notation in the staff above. Sometimes it is approximated in the TAB, but without noteheads, it can be a challenge.
Second, note names are never considered. While that may not seem like any big deal – and it’s not for beginners, especially – if you want to really make progress on the guitar, at some point note names and being aware of what note you are playing at all times becomes essential.
Regardless, most of us realize that at least a basic, working knowledge of standard musical notation makes us better musicians. Or, at least, more well-rounded musicians that are better able to communicate with other musicians who don’t use TAB and must rely on standard notation.
So, the aim here is not to turn you into an incredible sight-reader, ready to sit down at any recording studio around the world and read whatever is put in front of you – perfectly – the first time you see it.
To be honest, I could not do that after spending several years and thousands of hours trying.
Throughout my entire 30+ year career as a professional musician, I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to sight-read music, with no alternative available. And in every one of those situations I’ve had time to play through it a few times and figure out how I wanted to approach it.
But, I do use basic music reading almost every day along with reading TAB, and I would wager that I use my music reading skills in many ways that I don’t realize, much as you will once you have them by using…