Frequently Asked Questions

The Anitabs site is about one thing: Ani DiFranco guitar tabulature. It was founded in 1996 to publish a couple of tabs I had done. Before long, with all the tabs people started sending me, it blossomed into a real site. Anitabs is in no way commercially linked with Ani Difranco or Righteous Babe Records.

The tabs on this site are the work of many people. Names and contact information are given on the respective tab pages.

  1. How do I read tabs?
  2. What about capos?
  3. How do I write tabs?
  4. How do I get tabs into my computer?
  5. Do you have the tab for my favorite song?
  6. What does Ani have on her right-hand fingers?
  7. What is the Anitabs editorial policy?
1. How do I read tabs?
OK, first step: know what you're looking at. Those six horizontal lines on the screen represent the six strings on your guitar. The top line is the 1st string (highest pitched/skinniest) on your guitar; the bottom line is the 6th string (lowest pitched/fattest) string. The numbers you see along those lines represent fret numbers. Movement left-to-right along those lines is the movement of time through a song.

Tab uses a number of special symbols to notate guitar-specific plyaing techniques. They are: h is a hammer on, p is a pull off, and s or / is a slide. Parentheses around a fret number, like this "(4)" mean either the note is optional (it isn't played every time) or it is a "ghost" note, one that is not struck but rings anyway.

Second step: tune your guitar. Tunings are written as six letters, going from the sixth to the first string. If you're already in standard tuning (EADGBE) and the song is in standard, then you're ready to rock. Otherwise you must either use a chromatic tuner to adjust your strings into tune, or tune by ear. Tuning by ear is usually faster once you get the hang of it. Refer to a basic guitar method book if you're not familiar with these techniques.

A note about rhythm: tabs don't show rhythms very well. They show the order of notes to be played, and can kind of show rhythmic spacing, but they don't have a way to precisely chop up a measure like standard music notation on a staff. So that's where your ears must really get to work. Play your CD's and tapes, get the groove, and go for it.

Here is a brief primer on playing tabs written by Mare:

Well, for starters, here's how an "E" chord in standard tuning would look:


You can see from this tab of an E chord that every note is lined up in the same position, That indicates that all the notes get played at the same time. Now let's start with an easy tune. Let's try "God's Country". [Which is in the tuning DADGBE. -Leigh ] Strike the low "E" string, and then loosen the string so that the note gets lower, until you hit a "D" note. It's easy to do this by comparing the sound to the D string on your guitar. So all you are doing is just lowering the low E string one step down to a D note. Then you have to place a capo on the neck of the guitar at the fourth fret. Now go look up the tab. It will look like this at the start:


The tab is showing you the first chord that is played. You want to press your three fingers down on the 5th frets of the low D, A ,and D strings of the neck of the guitar. Now strum the chord so that you hit these strings plus the open G and B strings. You've made the first chord of the song! A good way to use your fingers to do this is to place them on the strings the way you would play a simple A chord. Does this make sense? This is all I'll write for now. Good luck!

2. What about capos?
A capo is a contraption that barres across all your strings. It's an easy way to change the key of a song. If you're playing a song with open chord forms that goes G-D-C and then put a capo on the second fret, the chords are now A-E-D.

Please note: when reading and writing tabs, fret numbers refer to the number above the capo. So if you see a "7" and the capo is on the second fret, you're actually playing at the ninth fret. A "0" (zero) means you don't finger anything, but the string is still sounding at the second fret, because that's where the capo's at. Sorry if this is confusing at first but baby that's how it is.

3. How do I write tabs?

Follow the example provided by the many fine tabs on these pages. Three things to watch for please:

1) Please put TAB: (song title here) in the subject header of email for tab you are sending me.  It makes it easier for me to keep track of all your submissions.

2) Put the strings in the correct order. (See "reading tabs" above.)

3) Please make the individual lines relatively short (less than 80 characters long). Otherwise, the lines double up and the tab is real hard to read. Use the tab template text file to make this whole thing easier. Here's an example of tab that is too wide:

4. How do I get tabs into my computer?
Drumroll type them! There are no secrets here. There are some programs out there that make the process easier but I've never used them. May I suggest the tab template text file as a good starting place? Copy this file only your hard drive, edit it in a text editor, and mail it in.

Really Helpful Hint: to make the frets all line up, write your tabs with a monospaced font, such as Courier or Monaco. Every character in a monospaced font takes up the same pixel width. Don't worry if the spacing gets all messed up when you paste the tab into an email message (probably your email program uses a non-monospaced font). It'll look fine on this end once it is displayed in Courier.

5. Do you have the tab for my favorite song?
If I have tab for a song, it'll get up there eventually. I'm not hoarding tabs. Sometimes it takes a while to look through the different versions and do the editing, etc., but other than that time lag, if I got 'em, they're up on the tabs page.
6. What does Ani have on her right-hand fingers?
Ani wears big plastic nails that are glued on and then wrapped in electrical tape. It is not necessary to do this in order to play her songs, however.
7. The Anitabs editorial policy:
Anything you write to me is fair game for posting, either as tabs or in a letter-to-the-editor format. By sending me a tab, you are indicating that it is your work. You must credit someone else if you send in their work. Please do not send in copyrighted material, such as tabs out of published books or magazines!