COPYRIGHTS & PERMISSIONS: All arrangements and tabs in this blog are the original work of the blog owner, unless otherwise noted. They may be downloaded and copied at no charge, only for non-commercial church or home use. All other rights reserved. Ask for permissions-- I intend to be generous. Copyright information for each song is listed in its commentary. Arrangements and tabs of public domain songs are still covered by these copyright restrictions. Your cooperation is appreciated.

We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet

This song is unusual, in that it is actually easier to play the melody from the tab than to strum accompaniment from the chords. That’s because strumming it requires frequent, fast chord changes, especially between G7 and F. The tab allows you to simply play the needed note as a melody note, without changing the chord at all, so most of the song is played from the C chord.

There is one barre chord in the entire song, a GIII.  Of course, you can substitute a normal G, or use the G7 position, without playing the #1 string, as I do in the rest of the song, but the melody won’t be exactly right.  All the G7 chords shown in the tab are actually Gs, but it’s just lots easier to fret the chord as a G7 and leave out the F on the high E string, than it is to change from C to G.  I’ve specified the four-string F chord, as it’s easier to play than the full barre F, and the musical difference in this case is not great.  But if you can do bar chords easily, the full, six-string F does sound a bit better.

I’ve included all the chord changes needed for strumming accompaniment, in small type, in italics, in brackets, to minimize confusion.  You can replace some of the single notes with strummed chords, or pinched chords, for variety, when playing solo.  It also makes a lovely duet, with one guitar playing lead, and the other strumming.  If you are playing with a more legato* instrument, such as a violin or flute, pinched chords, near the bridge, give a more classical sound. 

There are lots of hammer-ons and pull-offs in this song.  If you don’t like such ligados*, you can eliminate them, and just play each note normally, but that sounds rather staccato* to my ear.  Putting in the ligados did make it somewhat more challenging to write clearly, though.  Fourteen of the seventeen measures either begin or end with a ligado that crosses the bar.  It was inevitable that at least one of them would also cross from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. 

* The term legato comes from Itallian, and refers to the sound of notes that flow into each other.   Staccato is its opposite: notes that end abruptly.  The phrase, “La-la-la-la-la,” is legato, while, “Dot-dot-dot-dot-dot,” is staccato.  These two terms are used in all orchestral, choral, and piano music.  Ligado comes from Spanish, like other classical guitar terms, and indicates a hammer-on or a pull-off.  These are only two of several popular techniques for producing the legato sound, but those other techniques, such as slides, taps, and harmonics, are never called ligados.  Ligados are the only legato techniques used in this song.

Technical stuff:

When I write tab, I indicate ligados by tying the notes together with underscores.  Other techniques are indicated in other ways, specific to the technique.  Slides are shown by a slash between two notes: a forward slash (/) means slide to a higher note, a back slash (\) means slide to a lower note.  Harmonics are indicated by an exclamation point before the note: !12 means to play a harmonic at the twelfth fret, with the string open.  Taps are shown by the word Tap, in italics, above the tab.  If I don’t have room, I just use the capital T.  This can be confusing, because the capital T above the tab is also frequently used by other tab writers to indicate a thumb wrap.  I have small hands and a wide-neck guitar, so I never do thumb wraps.

Published by permission of the copyright holder.


Here's a cool tool!  It's online, and it's free. No axes to grind, (you should forgive the expression!), just something really useful.  See "Metronome online" in the links section.

He Is Risen

I had intended to publish this for Easter, but somehow filed it in the wrong folder and forgot it, until Jared Hillam sent me this request:

Hi Don,

I've really enjoyed learning your rendition of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief."

I was wondering if you happend to have a tab for "He Has Risen." My wife was playing it on the piano and I thought it would be really neat on the guitar.


Jared Hillam

Well, Jared, thank YOU for reminding me! This is indeed a beautiful song. It goes well with a piano, and makes a fantastic duet with a violin! A piano tends to drown out my classical guitar, but you could play it on an electric guitar, and adjust the volume as needed.

The tab is pretty straightforward, without any special chords or techniques, except you really do need to play the F and G chords as full barre chords, to follow the melody. I especially like the contrast between the pinched chords and the strummed ones. Remember, the GIII chord is just an E, barred at the third fret, and you're in business.

This piece is in the public domain.

Music theory for real newbies

CPA OTR Trucker asked:

When you start talking 7ths and 5ths, etc. I get blown away . . . I know a few basic cords but I am really a total newbie . . . I really don't know where to start. Will you provide me with some guidance?


Well, OTR, we’ve all been there! There are two kinds of learning that have to happen to turn you into a musician: muscle learning, and theory. When you train your hands to make chords, that’s muscle learning. It’s not so different from learning any other physical skill. After much practice, your muscles learn to do it by habit, and you have to struggle to do it differently. That’s one reason to learn from a teacher, who will make sure you learn to do it RIGHT by habit, so you don’t have to unlearn it and relearn it right later, when you discover the limitations of doing it the wrong way. In fact, the reason the “right way” to play the guitar IS the right way, is because it’s EASIER, once you learn how. Once or twice in a generation, along comes a genius like Jimi Hendrix or Andres Segovia, to show us an even better way, but that’s another story. The theory part is “head learning.” That seems to be what’s got you stumped. I’ll try to go back to the very beginning.

When a string vibrates, the note produced is determined by the length and thickness of the string, and the tension on it. To change the note, you can either change the tension, as in tuning, or change the vibrating length of the string. The first stringed instruments were like harps, with a different length string for each note desired. Eventually, some genius figured out that you could change the length of the vibrating part (the “speaking length”) by putting a board behind the strings, and pressing down with the fingers in different places, to make different notes. It was soon discovered that the spots for making some notes were separated by very different intervals. This was especially apparent when frets were invented. Some of the notes were nearly twice as far apart as others! Most notes are separated by approximately equal intervals. But the intervals B-to-C, and E-to-F, are only half the size of all the others. Guitar makers quickly learned that they could not make all the notes on all the strings, unless they placed their frets at every half interval. That’s why the notes on the E string are E (open), F (1st fret), F# (2nd fret), G (3rd fret), etc. E and F are separated by only a half-tone, but F, G, A, and B are separated by a whole tone, or two frets.

This becomes important to know, when you are trying to figure out the scale of a song. The key of C, for arcane reasons, is the one that includes only the named notes (the white keys on a keyboard): C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. There are no sharps or flats (the black keys on the keyboard). In every other key, some of the notes of the scale fall on a sharp or flat (black key). For example, if you start playing a scale on the G string, the notes will be G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#. The reason for this is that the human ear expects to hear a scale in which the first note and second note are separated by a whole tone, the second and third by a whole tone, the third and fourth by a half-tone, etc. If we number the notes of the scale 1 through 7 and start counting on any given note, the scale will be:

1 (+ 2 frets) 2 (+ 2 frets) 3 (+ 1 fret) 4 (+ 2 frets) 5 (+ 2 frets) 6 (+ 2 frets) 7 (+ 1 fret) 8

where 8 is the same note as 1, only an octave (from the Greek word for 8) higher. If we start counting on a C, the notes of the scale will be:


But if we start on D, the scale would look like this:

D E F# G A B C# D

The intervals are the same, no matter which note we start on. Musicians recognize this by referring to the notes of the scale by their interval, instead of by the note the scale starts on. Thus, in the key of D, the third note is F#, and the interval between the first and third note (four frets) is called a “third”, the interval between the first note and the fifth note (7 frets) is called a “fifth”, etc. We can even speak of intervals greater than an octave this way, as in a “ninth” (fourteen frets), etc.

Because the guitar has six strings, tuned to different notes, the interval between the lowest note on the guitar (the open bass E string) and the highest note easily played (the twelfth fret on the high E string) is three octaves, so it is perfectly possible to play two notes separated by a ninth, an eleventh, or a thirteenth, using two different strings.

It is also possible to construct other scales with different interval patterns, but this one is the most common, and is therefore called the “major” scale. Middle Eastern music, and lots of western music, is built on a scale in which the third note and sixth note are each one fret flat of their position in the major scale:

1, 2, 3b, 4, 5, 6b, 7, 8.

This "minor" scale makes the interval between the minor 6th and 7th notes three frets, and gives the scale an interesting sound. In the key of C minor, the scale would look like this:

C D Eb F G Ab B C

Remember that Eb and D# are the same note, midway between D & E. The names depend on which direction you are counting. D minor would look like this:

D E F G A Bb C# D

C# is also the same note as Db, halfway between C and D. There are reasons for this difference in nomenclature, but they are too technical to go into here.


Two or more notes played at the same time are called a chord. Most commonly played chords have at least three different notes. Each chord is named for:

--the first note of its scale,
--whether it is a major or minor scale,
--which notes of the scale it contains,
--any other special characteristics.

The most common chord contains the first, third, and fifth notes of the major scale, and is therefore called a “major” chord. Thus, the chord of C major contains the notes: C, E, and G. C minor has the notes: C, Eb, and G. Since music used to all be hand written, it was easier to leave out the word “major”, unless it was specifically needed for clarity, so the C major chord was written as “C”. Minor chords were indicated by the letter m. A chord in which the seventh note has been flatted is called a seventh chord, thus:

C = (1 - 3 - 5)
Cm = (1 - 3b - 5)
C7 = (1 - 3 - 5 - 7b)
Cm7 = (1 - 3b - 5 - 7b)

Most instruments only play one note at a time, so most musicians do not know much about chord theory, but guitarists begin with chords. Guitars also have so many strings that it is possible to play almost any note on the guitar in several different ways. For example, the E note formed by the open, high E string (the #1 string) on the guitar occurs in only one spot on the piano, the harp, the flute, etc. But on the guitar, you can play it by playing:

- the E string, open
- the B string, fretted at the fifth fret
- the G string, fretted at the ninth fret
- the D String, fretted at the fourteenth fret, etc.

This is bad enough when you are playing only one note at a time, but if you are trying to read chords as shown in piano music, you will quickly learn that ordinary sheet music is not well-suited to guitars. Most guitarists just memorize one way of playing each of the chords they use most often, and think of them as “the” way to play that chord. This works fine, if all you want to do is strum accompaniments for a vocalist. But if you want to learn to play a particular riff exactly as it is played on a record, or add melody notes to your music, or make the chords “follow” the melody as it rises and falls, something else is needed. That something is tablature, called “tab” for short.

The five-line musical staff of sheet music shows the musician where each note falls on the scale, and it is presumed that he knows where to find that note on his instrument. In tablature, the guitarist is shown exactly how to make each note on the guitar, which string to play it on, which fret to use, etc.

The six lines of tab represent the six strings of the guitar, as you would see them if you bent your head over and looked. (Don’t do it. You’ll end up playing with a bent wrist, and give yourself tendinitis.) That is, the top line in the tab is the high E string, the next is the B string, then the G string, etc. The numbers are the frets where that string is to be fretted. The number 0 is used to denote a string that is played unfretted, or "open". If there is no number on a string, don’t play it.

Unlike “real” sheet music, tablature has not been around very long, and there are few standardized ways of writing it. Some tab writers put in vertical measure lines (or “bars”), but not all do. The big disadvantage of tablature is that there is no easy way to tell how long a note lasts, unlike sheet music, with its half notes, quarter notes, etc. Fortunately, most notes on an acoustic guitar seem to come out as eighth notes, which makes tab-writing easier. So, tab is most useful for those who want to learn how to play a song they are already familiar with.

It’s easier to read tab if the lyrics of the song are included, so you can see where the notes go. That’s great if the song writer is dead, and cannot object to you publishing his work without permission. This is called, “being in the public domain,” which means that the copyrights have expired (or never existed at all). Most hymns were not written for guitar, so the guitar arrangement usually is the intellectual property of the guitarist who arranged it. The sticking point is the lyrics, which often are still in copyright.

Without the permission of the copyright holder, you cannot publish the lyrics, which means you cannot put them on the tab, even if you’re not charging money. You can usually get away with putting them on a sheet of tab you create for your own use, but many aspiring tab writers have learned to their sorrow that publishing on the web is indeed publishing, as far as the courts are concerned. That’s why you seldom see tabs with lyrics on the Internet. All the tabs I publish are either in the public domain, or I have gained permission from the copyright holder to publish them. Getting permission is usually a more difficult and lengthy process than arranging the music and writing the tab.

For further instruction in chord theory, see “Chord Theory”, and “What’s all this stuff about 7ths and 5ths, etc.?” on this blog.

Teach Me to Walk In the Light


At the top of the page is the title of the hymn, and the hymn number, as found in the LDS hymnal, Hymns. Then follow general instructions, such as “Strum all chords.” This means that anywhere you see a chord in the tablature, it is to be strummed, not plucked or pinched. Individual notes are always plucked unless otherwise instructed.

Each line of music is divided into four separate parts. The top line shows the chord names. They are given only when the chord changes, so the first line of the tab shows the E chord only once, though it is strummed nine times. The B7 chord shown next continues onto the second line, even though it is only shown on the first line, etc. Sometimes, special instructions are also included in this line, such as, slow, or hold.

The next six lines are the actual tablature. Each horizontal line of dashes represents a string of the guitar, with the top one representing the high e-string, the next representing the B-string, etc., as shown at the beginning of the tab. I usually omit the names of the strings when writing tab, unless they are tuned in a non-standard tuning, but I put them in on this song, for the use of true beginners.

In reading tablature (tab for short), the strings are fretted where the numbers indicate the proper fret: 1 = the first fret, etc. A zero -- 0 -- indicates the string is to be played “open” (unfretted). If there is no number on the string, do not play it. Vertical lines indicate measures, as in traditional music.

The next line is the lyrics of the song. Since the purpose of the tablature is to teach how to play a guitar instrumental solo, only the first verse of the song is included, for those who are familiar with it, to help them know where they are in the song.

The bottom line contains the time count, or tempo. This song is in “three-four” time, meaning that each measure contains three beats, and the first beat of each measure is accented by being played a bit louder than the others: ONE two three; ONE two three, etc. The accented beats are shown in bold face type. In general, each beat is accompanied by either a strummed chord or a plucked note, except for the last measure of each line, where the chord is strummed and allowed to ring through the other two beats, which are counted, but not played. This is shown by placing the other two beats in parentheses: (2 3). In the last line, the third beat of the first measure is also treated this way, and is shown in parentheses, too: (3) .

The next-to-last measure is also counted differently. There are six notes in the measure, but they are “eighth notes”, instead of the “quarter notes” that make up the rest of the song. The measure takes exactly the same length of time as the other measures, because the notes are played twice as fast. To count these notes, count the last two measures, “ONE-and-two-and-three-and-ONE, (two, three)”. The beat remains steady.

All but the very last note of the next-to-last measure can be easily played by simply strumming an E chord slowly, so each string sounds separately. You’ll have to stretch your pinkie to reach that note in the 4th fret, or else, let your hand slide slightly up the neck of the guitar, hit the note, then slide right back down to play the E chord.

Chord charts are shown at the end of the song. If you don’t know how to play a chord, the chord charts show you how. The vertical lines represent the guitar strings, and the horizontal lines show the frets. The top line shows the nut of the guitar, with Xs above strings that are not played. Finger positions are usually shown with zeros, or large, black dots, but I have used numbers to indicate which finger is placed where: 1 = the index finger, 2 = the middle finger, 3 = the ring finger, and 4 = the pinky.

I have tried to arrange the song so it would be as easy as possible to play, since I’m arranging it for my seven-year-old student, Meylin. If you are really a rank beginner, start by just strumming the chords as shown in the counting line, until you can make the chord changes without missing a beat. Only then should you try to learn how to put in the melody notes.

Most of the notes are part of the chords, and can be played just by selecting the proper string. Some of the notes are different, though. In the first line, a couple of the “extra” notes in the second fret can be reached just by flattening the left hand across the strings. Others need to be added with the pinky. In the third line, the E chord can be changed to an E7 just by lifting the 3rd finger. Replace it to hit the third note in the next measure.

This song is not in the public domain, but I have received written permission of the copyright owner (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) to publish it in this format, for personal or incidental, non-commercial home or church use.

Softly and Tenderly easier version

Due to requests to make this song a bit easier to play, I've tried to do so without dumbing it down, just simplifying it a bit. If you're a beginning guitarist, try this one first. I've removed the hammer-ons and pull-offs, and changed some of the chords to single melody notes. Otherwise, it's the same, so if you can already play the harder version, this may not be much of an improvement for you. Sometimes its aggravating that a piece that sounds so simple when played well is actually rather difficult to play. Sorry!

I Need Thee Every Hour

The chords are pretty standard, except for C9, which is just a normal C chord with the D note added with the little finger. Try to use the full barre chords if you can, as they emphasize the melody. The final measure, ending in C VIII, is just an E chord, barred at the 8th fret. This is much easier to do than it appears, as the frets are so much closer together at the top end of the fretboard.

Note that chords with a wavy line to the left are to be strummed, while others, without the wavy line of slashes, are to be pinched. Of course, you can strum them all or pinch them all if you wish, but playing it this way adds variety to the sound of what otherwise would be a rather simple song.

Public Domain.