Tablature is a system of reading guitar music which is based on fret numbers as opposed to symbols on a staff. As guitarists we have two options when it comes to reading music. One is standard notation, which is essential for translating music to anyone who’s not a guitar or bass player, and the other is tablature. There are many people who will disagree with me on this, but I feel that learning how to read tablature and rhythms is enough to get by for the casual guitarist. However, if you want to begin to learn music theory, get into the realms of jazz or classical music or pursue music as a career, then it is essential that you learn how to read standard notation.
Introducing standard notation too early on can be a little boring for guitarists excited to start playing the music that they love, so I almost always start with teaching tablature (unless the music that they love happens to be jazz or classical). Once you’re able to read tablature there are endless resources available to you on the internet and in transcription books to keep you busy for a long, long time. The good news is that tablature is an incredibly simple system for translating guitar music. Once you get the basics of reading tabs, you should find a teacher or a book that explains reading rhythms. This is really important in comprehending more complex solo passages or strumming patterns, and is often overlooked by guitarists.
This is what a line of blank tablature looks like: