Ron’s Tab System

The tab system used in this site is a unique visual system that shows the rhythm and where to fret the notes and chords( let’s call it RGTAB).It’s my own invention out of necessity, as I became frustrated, along with my students, over the years, with standard tabs.Basically, this system separates the rhythm from the notes, i.e., where they are fretted,for easier visual-auditory-motor comprehension.Most students have a harder time understanding the rhythm than figuring out where to put their fingers. A well articulated right hand,i.e.,rhythm, is most important for musicality and musical expression. In RGTAB, it’s easier to tap your foot, clap your hands, count aloud; to clarify the beats if it becomes unclear in your playing, and doesn’t sound “right”. The divisions and the syncopations of the beat can be difficult to figure-so slow it down and count/tap/clap until where the down,up, rest,and off beats are understood.It’s not easy, although it seems like a child could do it (few do!). So here’s how it works:

Rhythm in RGTAB-

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Fretting the notes in RGTAB-

This is the simple part : a big numeral is a string, i.e., 1 for the first string ( the highest sounding-farthest away from you), 2 for the second string, etc.

Uke and Mandolin–












A small numeral to the right of the large numeral is where to press Just Behind the fret on that string. So, for example, 3 fret the fourth fret on the third string:












On fretted instruments, one typically uses some left hand techniques called pull offs, hammer ons , and slides. In RGTAB they look like this:

Pull off:  32-0 ,   or pull your finger off the third string second fret to the third string open.

Hammer On:  10-3,   or pluck the first string open and than put your finger down on the 3rd fret.

Slide:  21-sl-3,  or pluck the second string, first fret and slide it up to the third fret.


Notes plucked together: plucking more than one note at a time is called a pinch.In RGTAB, a pinch looks like this under the rhythm value:

      12 –  for a 2 note pinch                                              12 –   for a 3 note pinch
      30                                                                                   30
Strums are denoted by an v or ^ for a basic one finger strum or strum down with a pick, sometimes called a brush stroke. (  means a roll or can be a thumb drag-under the rhythm where it is played.


The next step is to go to Fretted Arrangements, and try out the tab. Listening to the related sound file, following the tab, and finally trying to use it as a guide to figure out what you heard is a good process. It is important to listen first as you may be able to play many of the parts by ear; next you might use the tab to clarify the measures where you are unsure or stuck. If this is difficult to complete, just contact me!