How To Read Guitar Sheet Music

Learning how to read guitar sheet music is a great skill to have if you want to play guitar at the highest level. Reading guitar sheet music is not very easy to do in the beginning.

However, if you have the time and patience to learn this skill its worth it. It can be frustrating at first, but trust me, it’s worth the hassle.

First things first, I want to make it clear. You don’t need to know how to read guitar sheet music to play guitar.

Do I Need To Know How To Read Guitar Sheets To Play Guitar?

Reading guitar sheets tells you as a guitarist so much more information on how to play each chord.

The ability to read guitar tabs will make you look at every song in a new way.

When you know how to read guitar sheets, you will be thinking more about rhythm, pace, tempo, etc.

Not only that but they can help with physical aspects of the notes also, such as how hard to play certain notes; how long to play them, and how to play the upcoming note.

Advantages Of Guitar Reading Sheet Music

How To Read Guitar Sheet Music
  • Better Understanding How Music Is Written: You will have a much better understanding of how songs are played on the guitar. Not just to do with the sounds of the song like higher/lower notes etc, but the actual playing of the chord. You will know how hard to play a chord and for how long.
  • Standardized Reading: Standard notation is standardized on a global scale. It’s like math in a way, it reads the same for everyone. So once you learn it, you can read it anywhere you go.
  • Pick Up & Play: Because of the detail in the guitar sheets, you can pick up a guitar and start playing. Even though you might have never heard it (and not sound terrible).

Disadvantages Of Reading Guitar Sheet Music

  • Time Consuming: It can take some time to learn guitar sheet music. It will likely frustrate you at the beginning but will get easier over time
  • Learning Curve: You will kind of learn as you go. You will make some mistakes at the beginning, but gaining more knowledge from each guitar sheet you read. Be patient, in time you will learn.

Every Good Boy Does Fine

Ok, I need you to learn this simple sentence.

As silly as it sounds, it will help how to read guitar tabs – Every Good Boy Does Fine.

You might be thinking, what the hell is this guy talking about. E G B D F are all part of the music staff.

The staff is dived into 5 lines, and those lines are E G B D F.

Using the phrase ‘Every Good Boy Does Fine’ will help you memorize each line of the staff.

The bottom line of the staff is E (Every), and rises from the bottom to the top line F (fine).


OK, another phrase for you to learn. Well, it’s just a simple word; ‘FACE’.

What does Face mean?

To read guitar tab music, you need to know the space between the lines.

From the bottom up, these spaces are F A E (Face).

How To Read Guitar Sheet Music


Ok, now we are making progress. Let’s look at the notes. Notes are placed along the staff.

The notes along the staff tell guitarists what note to play and how long to play it.

The notehead will be filled in or white and will also sit above or below the staff line.

What this does is distinguish higher and lower notes. Look for the key signature.

The key signature shows what key the song is being played in.

This will look like a flat, sharp or natural symbol.

These are primarily used to keep musicians in key.

You will need to know the different types of notes.

This is self-explanatory really but essential nonetheless.

You will encounter 4 main types of notes. They will tell you how long to play each note.

  • Whole notes
  • Half notes 
  • Quarter notes
  • Rests

Time Signatures

Time signatures are used to determine the rhythm of each song.

You will know how many beats per measure are in each song. 4/4 is the most common measure you will see.

Conclusion: How To Read Guitar Sheet Music

These are the basics of how to read guitar tabs.

If you can learn this amount of info to start you know more than most. It can take a little time to get used to this, and believe me, I know it can be frustrating.

But, make sure you try and stick with it.

If you are serious about playing guitar at a higher level, this will benefit you.

If you want some more extensive guitar sheet learning, there are a few great videos online that can show.

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