I'm trying to learn guitar. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and learn sheet music at the same time as scales. I've got a PDF document that has a bunch, but I am confused by these numbers above the notes. What are they?
The numbers are the fingers you use on your left hand (if you’re right handed) to play the notes. The index is 1, middle-2 ring-3 pinky-4. Open strings are 0.
Fingerings and/or TAB are often provided in instructional material especially for beginning and intermediate players. At this point I would follow them exactly but in general and in the future fingerings are not always provided and are suggestions offering an easy and logical way to play a piece or exercise. Guitar is an instrument that has more than one place where you can play the same note or series of notes so you will find over time there are usually options available for playing the same thing different ways.
It's simply the fret numbers, but no indication of which strings - that needs to be guessed. Although it's a sequence, starting with 5th string (next to fattest).
0 means an open string, therefore no fingers (on fretting hand) involved. The 1, 2 and 3 are fret numbers, and can also be used as finger guides - beginners often use 'one finger per fret' meaning 1st fret pressed with index, 2nd with middle, 3rd with ring, and 4th with pinky.
So, for the time being, regard them as both, but it would't have taken much guessing to come up with that solution so far. Later in the book, the numbers could mean either. Worth checking - it might even mention the fact somewhere - it really ought to!
EDIT: while it's generally the accepted way in classical guitar music to suggest which fingers (on the fretting hand) to use, there's nothing to suggest the OP's example is actually classically based. It could just as well be a method the writer has decided upon. Coincidentally, at the beginner stage of learning to play from dots, students usually use one finger per fret, thus the numbers could well correspond to both fret and finger number. Who knows - and at this point, why should anybody care? The outcome isn't going to change. The tell will be when more advanced music from the same source is available for interrogation.
Just adding a visual for @Annie's answer.
The OP's original scale with both tab and fingering...
To make clear that fingerings go on top of notes here is another scale starting with same notes, but different fingering and position, for two octaves...
I'm not trained to read guitar from staff, but I know there is at least a general principle of one finger per fret. With a bit of practice and experience you can start to tell (without tab) the finger groupings and changes per string.
Ex. the beginning of the scale has fingering
2 4 1 2 4 1 3 4... If you know where
C is on the fretboard and basic scale shapes, you can tell the finger grouping per strings are
[string 5: 2 4][string 4: 1 2 4][string3: 1 3 4].
Sometimes the score will give string number explicitly like this...
...where the numbers below in circles are the string numbers.
killing birds? that's really bad!
(we say killing fleas, ok!)
Of course these numbers are the fingers, but here identical with the frets (0=open string). Now you've killed 3 fleas at once.
(If you look at the open (=0) strings: they are D,G,B!)
> FINGERINGS Fingerings are indicated with small numbers and letters in the notation. Fretting-hand fingering is indicated with 1 for the index finger, 2 the middle, 3 the ring, 4 the pinky, and T the thumb.
Something that hasn't been mentioned so far is position
With fretted (and unfretted stringed instruments such as violin), we talk about first position, second position and so on.
Your scale is to be played in 1st position. When you are are in 1st position, the fret numbers are the same as the finger numbers. You place your first finger on the first fret, second finger on second fret and so on.
If you move to fifth position, your first finger goes on the fifth fret, second finger goes on the 6th fret, 3rd finger goes on the 7th fret and 4th finger goes on the 8th fret.
In the scale you show, you are to play in 1st position and so the finger number coincides with the fret number! The numbers mean both!
Search YouTube or similar for guitar first position you will find lots of explanations. Similarly you will find videos for other positions (e.g. guitar fifth position)