There are many unique articulation techniques you can play on the guitar. Tablature has the ability to notate them. Some of the symbols can also be used on standard music notation but most are specific and unique to tablature. Some of these symbols like bends may be strange at first but once you get used to them you can become fluent in tablature.
Articulation is a way to express a note or set of notes in a non-standard way. One of the great things about the guitar is the ability to play lots of different articulations. Below is a table to help match a particular articulation technique with how it is represented in tablature.
|When there is a lower numbered fret connected to a higher numbered fret on the same string by a curved line. That is a hammer on.
|When there is a higher numbered fret connected to a lower numbered fret on the same string by a curved line. That is a pull off.
|When there is a straight line that connects two frets on the same string. That is a slide and it can indicate a slide up or down based off of the notes.
|A bend is indicated by a fretted note with a line that bends up away from the tab staff. This example shows a full bend (full) and a half bend (1/2).
|Tab defines a prebend when the bend line starts high and ends low at the final note. This example shows a full prebend.
|You can combine several articulation symbols to create more complex phrases. This example combines a full bend up then back down followed by a hammer off.
|A string mute is simply an X marked on the string. As you pick the string de-fret enough so no pitch sounds but rather a percussive muted sound.
|Palm mutes are notes that have a staccato like dot over them above the staff. Palm mutes are often annotated with a P.M. as well.
|Any note followed by a squiggly line means you should apply vibrato.
|A set of lines above the note just above the staff indicate the note should be played as a tremelo
|A note with an open dot above it just above the staff indicates a natural harmonic. Natural harmonics are often notated with a N.H.