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Sorry, I'm inexperienced, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around sheet music for unusual tunings. As far as I'm aware, the first note on the tabs is a G#, and it's just a G on the sheet music and this goes for the other notes, they seem to be one out... For example, the second note on the Tab is the 10th fret on the F# string that makes it C and the sheet music is B? What am I doing wrong please?

  • Basically, DADGAD reads bottom (lowest pitch, fattest string) to top. String numbers in circles are as they should be - 1= top (highest pitch) string. And the whole caboodle is tuned one semitone down, making everything make sense!
    – Tim
    Jan 5 at 15:21

3 Answers 3

  • The sheet music staff has a key signature of four sharps. That means that the following four note-names and all staff positions where they occur are sharp by default, unless otherwise specifically denoted with temporary accidentals: every F is F#, every C is C#, every G is G#, every D is D#.
  • The key signature says that G is sharp by default, so the first note in the staff notation is G#.
  • The strings are numberer so that the 1st string is the thinnest string on a regularly tuned 6-string guitar, which is normally closest to the Earth's center of mass. If you cut out string number 6, it will fall towards string 1, if the guitar is held in a normal playing position. (Though as ojs points out, the strings are listed in the opposite order, "DADGAD" is 654321, the same logic that's in the picture)
  • The second note is on string number 4, tuned to C#, and the 10th fret on that string is a B.
  • 4
    For what it's worth, DADGAD is from lowest to highest, or from string 6 to 1
    – ojs
    Jan 5 at 13:34
  • 1
    @ojs It's the same for regular EADGBE, isn't it - string note names are customarily listed in backwards numerical order like 654321. Jan 5 at 13:41
  • 2
    @AndyBonner Yes. If you look carefully the tuning specified is regular DADGAD but a half step lower. Notice it says 3=F#. Which is a half step below G. Jan 5 at 14:47
  • 1
    @Diana The second note is the 10th fret on string 4. String 4 is tuned to C# and 10 half steps above C# is B. The bottom line of the tab is string 6 and the top line of the tab is string 1. Jan 5 at 14:51
  • 1
    @Diana The note played second is B. The key signature states F#, C#, G#, D#. B doesn't get a sharp, stays B.
    – Divizna
    Jan 5 at 17:05

I'll try to explain the tab in a different way that might be more intuitive to understand.

Similarly to how the lowest tones are written on the lowest lines of the staff, it's the lowest-sounding string on the lowest line of the tab, and the highest on the top.

You can even imagine it as a picture of the guitar's neck.

illustration of what stated above


As piiperi has already mentioned the key signature in sheet music already provides the information what notes should be raised or flattened by default. It also provides additional information with regards to how long the note should sound in that case a quarter note and there should be 152 quarter notes per minute so ~0.4s what it doesn't provide information about is how you produce that tone given that there are many positions on the fretboard that produce the same tone but are harder or easier to string together in a fluid motion.

That is where TAB can shine, which lacks the information about the duration but tells you precisely where and what string you should fiddle with.

And as far as I know the reason for why TAB "inverts" the order of strings from highest to lowest is because it takes the perspective of the player. So if you looked down on your guitar (maybe tilt it a little so that you can see the fretboard) then what you would see is exactly the same as the TAB lines.

So if the TAB says you should play the empty 2nd string from the top then you could also do that on your guitar, which in standard tuning would be the b and in this tuning the g#. Which likely makes it more accessible for beginners as you really need no understanding of what you're doing you just hit the strings at the position that the chart tells you to.

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