Guitar Tabs Font


DJ's guitar tab information

For those unfamiliar with guitar tablature here is an introduction to the way I have presented the tabs I've contributed here on Majicat.

The idea of tablature pre-dates standard musical notation as a way of conveying how to play a tune, in Medieval music it was used for stringed instruments such as the lute, and later with early flamenco and folk music too.

Tablature was sometimes used as a written guide, although most songs were learnt by ear, passed from one player to another and so on to the next generation of musicians. On its own though it is not a perfect system, as the timing of each note is harder to indicate than in standard notation, and relies on some knowledge of hearing the particular piece.

The presentation I use also relies on the guitarist listening to the recordings closely, and the tablature or chord sheets are only a simple guide to help the player work out what is going on in the songs, (which string or fret position to use etc.) and does not pretend to include every little nuance exactly as the original was played.

Use the tabs as a guide, and adapt them to suit your own style or ability.

Here's a sample of blank tablature...

E |--------------|---------------|
B |--------------|---------------|
G |--------------|---------------|
D |--------------|---------------|
A |--------------|---------------|
E |--------------|---------------|

The horizontal lines represent the six strings of the guitar with the relevant name of each string shown alongside them on the left. This is called standard tuning, and is the most convenient and commonly used way to tune a guitar.

The vertical lines represent 'bars', which divide the music into equal sections, typically a count of 4 beats (4/4 time), but could be 3 beats (3/4 time, also known as waltz time), and sometimes 2 beats (2/4 time).There are also many other less common variations of these time signatures, ( for example, 'Rubylove', with it's Greek influence, is in 7/8 time ).

Cat Stevens music is very rhythm based, with differing time signatures appearing, sometimes, for just a bar within a song, and quick chord changes, very much influenced by the Greek music he had heard in his youth.
This is one of the stumbling blocks for those trying to play some of Cat's songs, that he will often throw in an odd bar of 2/4 or 3/4 in the middle of a song that is mostly in 4/4 time. The only way to get to grips with these quirky sections is by playing along with the recordings.
I find that copying a song onto cassette helps, as you can easily keep rewinding the tricky little sections of a song repeatedly, until you can understand what is going on.
Counting the beats rarely helps, I find it's something you just have to get the feel of by repeatedly listening to the song.

The bottom E string( the thickest one ), also known as the 6th string, is at the bottom of the tabs, followed by the A, D, G, B, and finally top E string, (or 1st string) which is the top line of the tabs.
These are the notes when played as 'open' strings (i.e. with no fingers on the frets) in the standard tuning for guitars.

There are many other variations of notes that the strings could be tuned to, and these are usually referred to as 'open tunings',
(artists such as Joni Mitchell, or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young use lots of different types of tunings) but, to my knowledge Cat Stevens and Alun Davies stuck to using standard tuning.

If you are not able to use another instrument to tune up to,(such as a piano or keyboard,) I recommend buying an electronic guitar tuner, available at any good music store, to make sure your guitar is tuned correctly to 'concert pitch', which will mean you should then be in tune with any other instruments, and also be able to play along with Cat's records, in most cases.

N.B. Playing along with a CD is probably the most accurate source of a recording as far as pitch is concerned. Vinyl and cassette playback speeds can vary from one machine to another, and may affect the pitch of a song, and may require you to then fine-tune your guitar to match the source, rather than accurately to just a guitar tuner.

As strings naturally stretch and are affected by room temperature,( particularly a new set), and also by how hard they are struck, it will probably be necessary to keep checking the tuning is still in correct pitch on a regular basis.

If you ever see any video of Cat in concert you will see this is a common problem with any guitar, and you will see Cat checking, and retuning between each song, not only to make sure he is still in tune with Alun Davies' guitar, but also that each string of his own guitar is still in correct pitch to each other,( as it can often be the lighter strings that slip out of tune more than the bottom strings). You may see him slowly strum the first chord of the next song while introducing it, just to see if any of the tuning has slipped.

To indicate a chord in tab form a 'G' chord might be shown as:

E |----3---------|
B |----0---------|
G |----0---------|
D |----0---------|
A |----2---------|
E |----3---------|

Each number represents which fret on that string must be held down with a finger. In this example a finger holds the 6th string down at the 3rd fret, another on the 5th string at the 2nd fret, and finally another on the 1st string at the 3rd fret. When all the numbers are directly above each other vertically these notes are held and played simultaneously as a strum and form a 'chord'.
chord is a series of notes which harmonise together. The most commonly used types of chords are major, minor, and seventh chords.
For example, a C major chord would be written as just C, a C minor chord would be shown as Cm, and a C seventh would be shown as C7.
Other typical chords Cat Stevens uses are minor sevenths (m7), suspended fourths (sus4), and major sevenths (maj7).

Below I've shown a typical example of a line of finger picking tablature. NOTE: Everything is written as played by a right handed player,(i.e. playing chords with the left hand, and strumming or picking with the right hand). Left handed players will, unfortunately, have to adapt the information.

In a finger-picking style the same 'G' chord may be shown like this:

E |------------2------------|
B |---------0-----0-----0---|
G |------------------0------|
D |-------0-----------------|
A |----2--------------------|
E |--3----------------------|

For the purposes of my tabs, below you will see the convention for showing which fingers are used, (this is just my way of showing this, and is not something you may see on other tabs elsewhere).

T= thumb

I= index finger
M= middle finger
R= ring finger
L= little finger

The tabbed example above shows that each note of the chord is picked or plucked separately in a flowing sound called an 'arpeggio'. When played with the fingers in picking style, (rather than, say, with a plectrum), the thumb usually plays the bottom, or bass notes, and it's mainly the index and middle fingers playing the notes on the higher strings. The hand is held in a kind of 'claw' position, the thumb picking downwards and the other fingers picking upwards.

The majority of chords on my tabs are shown like this example:

(Chord name:) ..G
(Fret:) .....320003

This is the same 'G' chord but shown in a simpler form, where each number represents one of the strings, with the bottom (6th) string being on the far left this time, and each successive number representing the next string on, each number shows which fret to hold down. If there is a '0', this means the string is not fretted at all put is strummed or picked as an 'open' string.

This next example below is a 'D'chord:


The 'X's mean 'do not play these strings with the right hand at all', in this instance start the chord from the 4th string onwards, and do not play the 5th and 6th strings.

In most of the tabs I will indicate which fingers I would use to make the chord shapes.
Like this:

.. IRM

Meaning... the 4th string is played open.
The 3rd string is played with the Index finger at the 2nd fret.
The 2nd string is played with the Ring finger at the 3rd fret.
The 1st string is played with the Middle finger at the 2nd fret.

In the tablature layout the strummed 'D' chord would be shown as:

E |---2----------|
B |---3----------|
G |---2----------|
D |---0----------|
A |--------------|
E |--------------|

Again the D string is played 'open', but the 'X's are not necessary in this version , as it can be seen that the E and A strings are just not played because there are no fret positions marked.

As another example of an arpeggio, this is the first chord from 'The wind', this is a Dsus5. In most cases with suspended chords I may leave out the 'sus' bit to save space, and just call it D5, or D4 for example.


In the tab version the intro picking is:

E |-------5------|
B |-----3-----3--|
G |--------------|
D |--0-----------|
A |--------------|
E |--------------|

Although played as separate notes, the whole chord is held down all the time, and even though the 3rd string isn't being played it in
still better to hold down the 2nd fret, in case you do happen to
hit this note.

Sometimes I may indicate it like this:
E |-----------5-----|
B |--------3-----3--|
G |----(2)----------| (x4)
D |--0--------------|
A |-----------------|
E |-----------------|

Here the numbered fret is in brackets, meaning it is optional.
If you want to play the note it will sound OK, but it is not necessary.
Also at the right hand side I may indicate that a bar, or group of bars, are repeated, (in this instance, the riff is repeated four times )this makes the tabs simpler and less cluttered, saving time, and space on the tab presentation.

You will find, particularly on tabs such as the guitar solo on 'Father & son', that there are other marks before or after the fret numbers.

......C .......Am7 .........G...... Em ........D .....G
E |----------------------|------------------------ -|---------------------|
B |----------------------|------------------------- |---------------------|
G |---7---7---9----------|--4--------4---5-p4--4----|---------------4-h5--|
D |-------------5----5-7-|-----5-h7--------------7--|--5-----5------------|
A |----------------------|--------------------------|-----5---------------|
E |----------------------|--------------------------|---------------------|

.......D ......C .............G ....C/G ..............G.......C/G
E |-----------------------|-----------------------|-----------------------|
B |-----------------------|-----------------------|-----------------------|
G |---/7------5----5--p4--|-----------------------|-----------------------|
D |-----------------------|---5-----5-5-5-5\2-0---|-----------------------|
A |-----------------------|---------------------2-|-----------------------|
E |-----------------------|-----------------------|---3-------------------|

In the above example in bar two on the D string there is a 'h' before the '7', this is a 'hammered on' note. This is played here by first playing the note before, which is at the 5th fret ( use the index finger)and then without striking or picking the string again, whilst still keeping the index finger where it is, quickly hammer the little finger on the same string at the 7th fret to produce the next note.

The opposite is true of the 'pull off' note, seen in the same bar. Here the fingers must be in position for the next note, so the index finger is on the 3rd string at the 4th fret already, with the middle finger also on the fret above, at the 5th fret. Play the 5th fret note, then quickly pull that finger off to hear the second note sounding at the 4th fret.

The final mark in the solo above is a diagonal line before or after the fretted number. This is a slide from one note to the next, again without having to play that string again to create the second note.

E |--------------|
B |--------------|
G |--------------|
D |----5\2-------|
A |--------------|
E |--------------|

This shows a slide down from the 5th fret to the 2nd fret.
A slide up has a diagonal that slopes the other way. For example:

E |--------------|
B |--------------|
G |--------------|
D |----2/5-------|
A |--------------|
E |--------------|

This is a slide where the note is played at the 2nd fret, then the same finger slides up to the 5th fret to create the next note without having to pick the string again.

Another symbol you may find is this:

E |--------------|
B |--------------|
G |--------------|
D |-----5*-------|
A |--------------|
E |--------------|

This is a harmonic note, and if played correctly will give a bright, high pitched, 'bell-like' quality to the note. The usual way to hold down a string is to press hard just behind the fret, but to create a harmonic requires a lightness of touch, barely touching the string, directly above the fret, and after striking the string lifting the finger off the string very quickly to let the string resonate.

The easiest places to create harmonics are at the 5th, 7th and 12th frets.
12th fret harmonics appear in the solo to 'Father & son' and also in the intro riff to 'Lady D'Arbanville'. Alun Davies plays some 5th fret harmonics on the intro to 'On the road to find out'.

There are many other signs on tablature such as a small 'b' before a fret number, meaning the note is played and then the string is pushed sideways slightly and then back again to create a 'bent' note, but I try to avoid going into that much detail with my tabs.

Finally, sometimes, to save space on the page, or because there may not be a particular riff that requires detailed tablature, I may indicate bars of chords where there are no lyrics, such as an intro, or break between verses, as in the example below:

..G ........D
| / / / / | / / / / |

The little vertical lines are to indicate each bar, and the diagonal lines indicate the number of beats to that bar.
Here we have one bar of G, and another bar of D. Where a chord should change, it will appear above that beat.

Where there are lyrics to the song then the point in which the chord should change will be shown above a particular word or syllable.

G ..C ......D G D
.......| / / / / | / / / / |
Count : .1 2 3 4 ..1 2 3 4

In the example above the first bar has a G chord for the first two beats, a C chord for the second two beats. The next bar keeps the C for the first beat, then changes to a D for the 2nd beat, a G for the 3rd beat, and finally back to the D for the last beat.

You will also come across other chord names. If you see, for example, a chord shown like this... 'Am/G' that means the main chord is an 'Am' but with the note of 'G' as its bottom (or bass) note.
If you see a chord name like this, you could always just play the main chord and ignore the bass note shown if you like, as it will still sound fine.

Generally most chords would have the same bass note as the chord name (i.e. Am would normally have an 'A' note as the bottom note, a C chord would have a 'C' as the bottom note, etc.) but occasionally a chord has another note that is present in the chord, or even a note that isn't normally part of the chord as the bass note.

Quite often that extra note on the recording may have been played by a bass guitar or piano or some other instrument as part of the arrangement, and may not always be played by the guitarists.
However, some of Cat's songs will sound better if you make sure you do emphasis those bass notes, as it will make it sound closer to the record and be more interesting, in some cases the bass note progression is very integral to the feel of the composition.

An example would be 'Sitting', where there is a downward progression of the bass notes of the chords. The first four chords go... C, G/B, Am and C/G.

Playing the chords C, G, Am and then back to C again without the correct bass notes would sound okay, but the main element to this progression is the choice of bass notes played with the chords, so with your thumb or your pick (or plectrum) you should hit the bottom notes of each chord a bit harder to emphasis this bass rundown.

In the section of 'Sitting' mentioned above the correct progression of bass notes would be 'C', 'B', 'A' and ending on 'G'.
Check out the tab for this song, and rather than just strumming the whole chord, hit the bass note alone first and then followed by the rest of the chord strummed or fingerpicked. Listen to the record too, and maybe turn the bass up on your hi-fi to hear what the bass guitar or left hand of the piano is playing.

You may also see, after the song title at the top, an indication of a capo position. A lot of modern guitarists can be very snobby about using capos, although the device has a long history of classically trained guitarists using them. There are very many different styles of capo, but basically it is a device that can be strapped around the neck of the guitar just to the edge of a fret to raise the pitch of the strings, and enable the guitarist to change the key of the music without having to relearn a tune with a whole new set of chords. It also means you can play the chords as tabbed, but choose how high or low you want to sing the song (within reason that is, I don't usually use my capo anywhere above the 7th fret.)

I personally find a lot of designs for capos pretty useless, as they knock the strings out of tune too easily when putting the capo on. I recommend a make called 'Shubb', they can take a little while to get used to using, but I think they're the most reliable. Make sure you get one that has the correct profile for the shape of your fretboard (i.e, flat or curved).
Check them out at

I would also highly recommend a book called 'The Guitar Handbook' by Ralph Denyer, published by Pan books (ISBN 0-330-32750-X), or 'The Complete Guitarist' by Richard Chapman, published by Dorling Kindersley (ISBN 1-4053-01899). They both cover most of what you may need to know about the guitar, and are excellent practical guides.

Hope some of this makes sense to you, if not, please, use the Guitar tab message board, and I'll be glad to try to answer your questions.

I hope you have lots of enjoyment from the tab section at Majicat.

Good luck,


Back to Majicats
Homepage Guitar tabs