I am a beginner guitarist and I am currently learning to play guitar through online courses. I have so far learnt to play all the chords and understood how chords are made and scales as well and also how chords can be played in different places on a guitar.

At the moment , I'm currently trying to find a way to learn how to play , guitar tabs songs more efficiently and effectively. At the moment, I'm learning this finger picking song called "Let Her Go" by Passenger and the way I'm learning this particular song is memorizing each part of the song slowly. I feel by learning through memorization, it is ineffectively and time consum. How can I learn tabs more effective and efficient?

Can someone kindly help me

At the moment

  • I don't really understand the question. In order to play a song from memory, you're always going to have to memorise the song. Embedding the muscle memory to be able to play a piece proficiently will take longer than remembering what notes to play. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 8:05

4 Answers 4


One thing music teachers tell their students, is to always read a few bars ahead of what you're playing. Before you start, take a look at the first three bars or so, and as you begin playing from the first bar, simply begin reading from the third or fourth bar. At first, this will feel very strange, and your eyes will constantly dart back to the position that you're currently playing. But after practising this way for a while, you'll notice that you'll become much better at playing what you read on sight, because your mind has a few seconds to process each note before your fingers need to play it.

Secondly, this may seem elitist of me, but it's a good idea to learn to read actual music scores, too. Even if you're not good at it, it can be very helpful to have the notes scores and the tablatures in front of you, so that you can occasionally take a glance at those notes. This will help you to understand the music a lot better.


When you learning a song with tablature, first you must remember the actual song (Let Her Go), or have someone play the song on guitar.

If you have Guitar Pro software, you can learn by playing the audio while it indicates the current note which plays.

That's my answer to read and play the tab more effective.

But the best way to learn and understand a song by tab:

  • The tab staff should have chord names above it. So, while you remember the melody and rhythm, you'll also remember the chords.

  • The tab staff should have standard music notation (notes on the staff) above it. So you can learn music notes.


If the tabs had chord names above the fingerings it would be much easier to play and memorize. The chords guide you on how to finger the melody. If you know basic guitar chords then it should be easy to recognize how to play the piece.

Looks like the song uses F, Am, and G chords shapes at the 7th position using a capo. I would use my thumb for the F chord root note on 6th string so you can execute the hammer on from open 3rd string to 2nd fret.


The tab of your example lacks chord information, so it is not a good source. I'd recommend finding a score with both staff and tab. Then you will have the chord names to lead you in memorizing the song, instead of individual tones. Then you will also have key information, and the rhythm. There are repeated picking patterns, which you likely will notice, and then you can remember the song in terms of those, instead of individual tones being struck.

  • 1
    You don't need to know any of the chord names to memorize a song or piece. I don't memorize chord names at all, especially since most of what I memorize isn't really specific to one chord. I memorize shapes and hand motions, and I would have to finger a part of a song and look at my hand to know what chord is being played at that part. And I've memorized hundreds of songs. Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 18:51
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    I have to say, I, as a beginner, find it sometimes easier when I have the chords written in combination with the tab. Because, if you don't know a lot of chords and you are not able to recognize the chord from this tab, I sometimes struggle to place my hand so that I can play this shape effectively. If you know which chord is actually played, you can look it up, place your fingers accordingly and then learn the shape being played here. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 8:33
  • @ToddWilcox: I would guess that your approach is quite rare. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 13:00
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    @ToddWilcox: Using the shapes on the fretboard as a way to understand guitar is used by almost all guitarists I would guess, not tying these shapes to chords, scales etc. is probably quite rare. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 13:08
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    It would certainly be easier for the player to understand the basic chords of the guitar and relate that to the tab. If you can recognize the first chord as an F shape then Am shape using the capo, it would be quicker to memorize the song. The player should relate those shapes to chords. Therefore the player can understand how the music is made through the chords for other songs they may want to play.
    – r lo
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 13:18

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