How to Read Banjo Tablature

Tablature is a simple way of writing music for fretted instruments such as the banjo. It uses lines and numbers to indicate frets and strings. Banjo tablature is written on a 5-line staff with each line representing a string on the banjo. The bottom line corresponds to the high G string and continues through to the top line which represents the high D string. An example of the banjo tab staff is shown below with each string labeled:

Five-line staff for banjo tablature

Numbers are placed on the tablature staff to indicate frets. In the example below, the first number is a "5", indicating that the fifth fret on the fourth string (the low D string) should be played.

Numbers on a banjo tablature staff

A zero indicates that the open string should be played. In the following example, the third string (G) is played open:

Zero to indicate an open string in banjo tablature

Stacked numbers mean that you should play all of the specified notes at the same time. For example, the tablature below is for a C major chord:

C major banjo chord, showing how stacked numbers should be played in tab

There are additional symbols used in banjo tablature. However, the information provided above is sufficient to read all of the tablature on this site.