So far I've looked at what notes to play : which string to hit, and
where to fret it. I've mentioned how to get an idea of note lengths
by looking at the spaces between notes on the TAB, but this can only
be a rough guide. You will always have to check with the original track
to work out details of the rhythm.
A lot of other imprtant information can be included in a piece of TAB.
This includes hammer-ons, pull offs, slides, bends, vibrato and so on.
The standard practice is to write extra letters or symbols between notes
to indicate how to play them. Here are the letters/symbols most
often used :
h - hammer on
p - pull off
b - bend string up
r - release bend
/ - slide up
\ - slide down
v - vibrato (sometimes written as ~)
t - right hand tap
x - play 'note' with heavy damping
That last one, the x, is used to get a choppy, percussive sound.
You usually use your fretting hand to lightly damp the strings so
that when you pick the note it sounds dead.
Note that the use of 'x' is *totally* different from the use of
an 'x' when giving chord shapes.
For example if you wrote the chord of D, you would see :
where the 'x's mean do not play this string.
In tab it is implicitly assumed that a string is not played if it is not
marked. So the same chord in TAB would be :
with no 'x'. The x is is only used in TAB to represent a heavily
muted string which is picked/strummed to give a percussive sound.
There are a number of other symbols for things like whammy bar bends,
pick scrapes and so on. There seems to be no particular standard
way of writing these - details should be given in the TAB to explain
what the symbols mean.
Bass TAB will probably need a few extra symbols to cope with the
different techniques used in bass playing - for example slapping
and 'popping' the string with thumb or middle finger.
You could use 's' for slap and 'p' for pop as long as you wrote
them *underneath* the lines of tab to distinguish them from slide
and pull off which would be written *on* the lines of tab.