What Do the Symbols Mean?

3 Mins

From How to Read Ukulele Tabs

About The Lesson

This is often a stumbling block for beginner players wanting to learn new songs. Let’s put an end to that fear and learn about expressions on ukulele tabs.

Lesson Materials

Hammer-On

This is the “h” that sits between 2 numbers.

To execute a hammer-on, you need to pluck the first note as normal. Then use your next finger to press down on the following fret without plucking.

A|------------------------| 
E|------------------------|
C|------------------------|
G|------------------------|

Pull Off

This is the “p” that also sits between 2 numbers.

The pull is something like a backwards hammer on. By that I mean instead off placing a new finger on. You are removing one of your fretting fingers.
 
In the example above you would place your first finger on the 5th fret and your ring finger on the 7th. While holding both the frets, pluck the string and then drag your ring finger off. That will reveal the note on the fret.
 
It’s important to drag the string as this will amplify the sound of the note.
A|------------------------| 
E|------------------------|
C|------------------------|
G|------------------------|

Slide

This is the “/”  or “\” that instructs you to slide between notes.

Sliding creates a smooth transition between notes. It’s great for adding a little bit of delicacy to your arrangements. To execute a slide, pluck the first note and then slide either up or down depending on which way the slash is facing.

A|-----------|------------| 
E|-----------|------------|
C|-----------|------------|
G|-----------|------------|

Vibrato

The “~” symbol requires us to vibrate the strings.

Vibrato has its origins in blues music. It’s the motion of bending the string up and down ever so softly. Most of the movement should be in your wrists and hands. 

A|-----------------0------| 
E|--------------0---------|
C|--3--4-----0------------|
G|--------0---------------|

Bends

This is the “b” that you will find between 2 numbers.

Bending the strings has a similar sound to a slide. Its essentially a smooth transtion between notes but instead of moving to a new fret. We are bending the string to get a new pitch (the number following the “b” symbol).

A|--3---------------------| 
E|--0---------------------|
C|--0---------------------|
G|--0---------------------|
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