However, guitar chords and tab files can quite easily be converted to meaningful information for keyboard players, as long as the conventions for tablature and chord naming are understood. This page is designed to give keyboard players all the information they need to know in order to make use of guitar tab and chord files.
To understand how guitar tab is written and how to interpret it yourself, read on...
E--0----0--2--4--2--0------0----- B--0----0--------------4---0----- G--1----1------------------1----- D--2----2------------------2----- A--2----------------------------- E--0-----------------------------The above tablature starts with a chord of six notes, followed by a chord of four notes, a short melody of single notes, then another chord. To convert the tablature into note names, use the table below. The left hand column has the strings in the same order as they appear on the tablature (lowest pitch string at the bottom). For each note in the tablature, look along the row for that string, find the fret number and read off the note name.
Thanks to Steve Chernove for the original idea for this conversion table.
Note that 12 frets corresponds to an octave, hence you get the same note names for frets 1 and 13, 2 and 14 etc.
Using the first chord in the tablature above as an example, working from the bottom string up, we get:
If we continue through the complete tablature example, we find that it corresponds to an Emajor chord (low to high: EBEG#BE), followed by a different Emajor chord (EG#BE), then the notes E F# G# F# E D# and finally a repeat of the second Emajor chord. In standard notation, this might look something like this:
For example, should a 13th chord include the 9th and 11th, or are these notes optional?
To help keyboard players (and guitarists!) to understand exactly what is meant by the chord names I have used in my transcriptions, I have written a table summarising what I consider to be the essential notes for the most common chord types. If you're reading my chord transcriptions and come across a Bm11 chord for example, you can check this chord reference table to find out what notes should be used. The table gives the "spelling" for each chord in terms of the notes of the major scale, for example the major chord spelling is 1, 3, 5.
Most of my chord transcriptions include guitar chord shapes that specify exactly which chord voicing to use. These chord shapes are specified by giving the string & fret number for each note. An x indicates the string is not played, and a zero indicates the open string. For example, the chord shape for Cmaj7 might be specified as:
EADGBE x32000 Cmaj7In other words, the Cmaj7 chord is played by fretting the A string at the 3rd fret, the D string at the 2nd fret and playing the G, B and top E string open (the bottom E string is not played). Using the conversion table above, you can get the notes that make up these chords so you can play them on the keyboard (in this case you'd get the notes C E G B E).
To give another example, my transcription of the first two chords of the introduction to the Steely Dan song "Deacon Blues" is Cmaj7 Gsus2/B, where the chord shapes are given as:
EADGBE EADGBE 8x998x 7x778x Cmaj7 Gsus2/BUsing the conversion table above, and working from lowest string to highest string (left to right in the chord shapes) we find for the Cmaj7 chord:
Last updated November 2012
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