Learning to play the guitar is now made easy because of acoustic guitar reviews, especially with a wide variety of online resources out there to help you out. Aside from burning passion and full commitment, you also need to know how to read music because it significantly reduces the time that it takes to learn your song of choice. If you do not own an instrument yet, look for available Acoustic Guitars at your nearest store.

First, familiarize yourself with the following ways of writing music for guitar. Eager learners see them as three different forms of written sheet music:

  • Standard Notation
  • Guitar Tablature
  • Chord Diagrams

Whenever you are ready, check out this guide and skim through the tips below so that you can get accustomed to reading music for guitar in no time.

music for guitar

  1. Standard Notation

Standard Notation

Figure 1 Example of standard notation

Often described as a formal process to write sheet music, standard notation is the most common way for musicians to read music. One of the basic requirements for decoding this type of written sheet music is knowing what the black dots on the lines and other various symbols mean.

Other than the piano and violin, the Acoustic Guitars mostly require a basic understanding of the standard notation. The great thing about the guitar, however, is that you are not just limited to reading music for this sole instrument using only the standard notation. Try to buy a sheet music book today, and you will notice both the standard notation and guitar tablature detailed on each page.

  1. Guitar Tablature

Apart from standard notation, you may also learn how to read music using guitar tablature, or guitar tab for as is commonly known. This type of written sheet music has quickly gained popularity because aspirants have realized that it is easier to write and share guitar tab compared to standard notation.

Standard Notation

Figure 2 Illustration of Smoke on Water in Guitar Tab

The most notable difference between standard notation and guitar tab is the use of dots and numbers, respectively. While standard notation uses an arrangement of dots on a staff to let learners know what notes to play, the guitar tab features a sequence of numbers on six lines instead.

Knowing how to read the guitar tab only requires basic knowledge of two elements: the numbers and the six lines or strings. In a typical guitar tab, the numbers indicate which frets to clip, while the lines with overlapping numbers show you which strings to pluck or strum.

Additionally, the guitar tab uses many additional symbols associated with various techniques, including bends, palm muting, and slides. It even involves rhythm notation that tells you the timing of every note or rest.

  1. Chord Diagrams

There are a few vocalists who know how to play the guitar, too. But to give accompaniment to their singing, they only need to know the chords to strum and when to play those chords. It is in this scenario that chord diagrams come into play.

Chord Diagrams

Figure 3 Examples of chord diagrams

Chord diagrams are a visual representation of varying chord shapes for you to play. Most sheet music books contain the chord diagrams laid out at the start of any song. Afterward, the rest of the sheet music displays the names of those chords.


Truth be told, you don’t need to read music to be a great guitar player. However, knowing how to read music will help you learn the guitar faster and you will get better in this skill in no time.

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