Tech Tip:Bass Guitar Tablature Technique Symbols


John Larsin; Chicago, IL


*Q: I am a new Bass player, just got my Bass two weeks ago. I am progressing very fast and want to keep learning but I have a few questions:


1. In tablature music what does a "P" or "H" on top of a tablature number represent?
2. How do I know what finger to use when playing a tablature note? The Rock House Bass DVD does have finger numbers under each note and that's great but I have a Nirvana Tab book that doesn't have any fingers listed.

Thanks for all your help!!


A:* It's great that you are progressing rapidly!! This is the best time to soak everything in; your first few months of playing can dictate how you progress throughout your entire career.


Alright, let's go through the Tablature symbols. "P" is for Pull off; this technique is achieved by picking a note then snapping your finger off the string with a downward finger motion. You create sound for the second note without picking it--the snap creates the sound.


"H" represents a Hammer on; this technique is created the opposite of the Pull off. You must pick the first note then push a finger rapidly down on the second note. The hammer motion on the string sounds the second note.


These are very popular techniques used in today's music so make sure to spend some quality time mastering them.


Unfortunately there are many song books available that don't have fingering included. Here is a trick that will help you position your fingers properly most of the time. Songs are written in sections almost like paragraphs when reading a story. These sections are usually called Verse, Chorus, and Bridge and each will be a complete standalone part. You must first determine the sections in the song then find the lowest fret number in a section. Line your first finger up to the lowest note and then line the rest of your fingers up one finger per fret after that fret. So if the lowest fret number is 5, line your first finger to the 5th fret, second finger to the 6th, third finger to the 7th, and fourth finger to the 8th.


Using this method you will be able to work through most sheet music with ease.


Hope this helps,
John McCarthy
Rock House Method
Guitar Instructor