tabasci /tutorial>

How to use Tabasci

This is a guide to using Tabasci, not an introduction to tablature itself. We assume you already understand guitar tablature and the concepts of lyrics and chords. If you need an introduction to guitar tabs, you can find them on other sites.

This guide demonstrates the keyboard and mouse actions that allow you to quickly write guitar tabs. In each section we'll explain a keyboard shortcut or mouse action and have you try it out in the editor. When you complete a section, you can move on by hitting the 'next' button or pressing shift+enter. You can also skip a section the same way if you're not interested. Skip directly to a particular section or repeat any section by clicking on that section's title.

Moving around with arrows

Here's a blank line of tablature. The location of the cursor is indicated by a blinking underline. You can move the cursor around in the tab using the arrow keys. Move the cursor to the '3'.

Clicking to place the cursor

You can also place the cursor by clicking on the tab where you want it to go. Place the cursor on the '5' by clicking on it.


You enter numbers into the tab just by typing numbers like you would in any other text editor. You can also type other common tab symbols such as h (hammer), p (pull off), b (bend), / (slide up), and \ (slide down). Try typing some numbers and symbols in the tab.

Changing typing mode

Notice that after you enter a symbol, the cursor moves down to the next string. This is good for filling out a whole line, for example, if you were typing out a chord. However, if you're tabbing out a riff, it would be much better for the cursor to move to the right after you enter a symbol. You can press semicolon to alternate the direction the cursor moves as you type between down and across. Try typing some characters in each mode to get a feel for it.

Backspacing to delete

Made a mistake? Delete whatever you just typed using the backspace key. Try deleting something you typed earlier.

Clearing a line

To clear the contents of the entire current line, press shift+backspace shift+delete.

Move your cursor to the line with the 9s and clear the contents.

Deleting a line

Instead of just clearing the contents of a line, you can remove it from the tab entirely by pressing delete fn+delete. Delete the line with the 7s.

Selecting a line

You can select a strum by clicking on it while holding the command control key. Try selecting the third line.

Selecting multiple strums

You can deselect an already selected line the same way, by command+clickcontrol+clicking. You can also select more than one line at a time, and they don't need to be next to each other. Try selecting exactly the lines that contain a '4'.

Moving lines with the mouse

Once you have selected lines, you can move them around within or between tab lines by dragging them with the mouse. Click and drag on one of the selected lines to move them left and right in the tab.

Actions apply to all selected lines

When you have some lines selected, most actions will apply to all of them instead of just the line with the cursor. For example, try the clear line action again now that you've selected all the 4s (shift+backspace).

Click and drag to select lines

To quickly select a contiguous set of lines, you can click and drag with your mouse over the ones you want. Click on the first line with 3s and drag to the next.

Selecting all lines

Finally, you can quickly select all lines by pressing command+a control+a. Try it out.

Copying and pasting lines

You can cut (command+xcontrol+x), copy (command+ccontrol+c), and paste (command+pcontrol+p) lines just like you can normal text using the browser's edit menu or the usual keyboard commands. Try copying the selected lines and pasting them later in the tab.

Undoing and redoing

Oops, maybe you didn't want to paste those lines after all. You can undo and redo changes using the standard keyboard shortcuts. Undo changes using command+zcontrol+z. You can redo them using command+ycontrol+y. Try undoing the paste operation you made in the last section.

Changing a line width

By default, lines are only one character wide, so to enter a fret with two digits (10 and above) into a line, you'll need to make it wider. You can do this by pressing the plus sign (shift+=). You can reduce the width of a line by pressing shift+-. Try making a strum wider and type 10 into it.

Inserting a new line after the cursor

To insert a new line to the right of the cursor, press the a key (a for 'after'). The cursor will be moved to the newly inserted line. Insert a new line between the 3s and the 5s here.

Inserting a new line before the cursor

You can also insert a new line before the cursor by hitting i (as in 'insert') then enter. The cursor will stay on its original line instead of moving to the newly inserted line. This is useful for adding lines that you plan to leave blank. Use this shortcut to put a new line between the 3s and the 5s again.

Inserting and editing a new line before the cursor

If you want to insert a new line before the cursor and have the cursor move to the newly created line, just press I (shift+i). This is similar to the i enter shortcut in the last section, but more useful if you want to type into the new line. Try using this shortcut to put a line between the 3s and 5s one more time.

Inserting a new line at the end of the line

You can add a new line at the end of the tab and move the cursor there by pressing A (shift+a). This is an easy way to quickly make the tab longer. Try it.

Inserting a bar line

You can insert a bar chord to separate the tab into measures by pressing i (for insert) then b (for bar) then enter.

Setting a chord with the chord library

To put a chord into your tab, you could type the fret of each string individually, but that would be pretty tedious for such a common operation. Instead, you can click on one of the chords shown at the bottom of the screen, and the chord will be entered into the line with cursor. Try it out.

Setting a chord

You can also enter a chord without even moving your mouse by pressing c (for chord), then the name of the chord (e.g. a or d#), then enter. So the full shortcut for setting a d# chord would be c d # enter. Try setting a few more chords here.

Inserting a chord

To insert a new line with a chord, type an i (for insert) before using the chord setting shortcut in the last section. So to insert a new line with a d# chord, the full shortcut would be i c d # enter. Try it out.

Merging lines

You can merge multiple lines into one using the keyboard shortcut m, which combines any selected lines into a single line. Combine the two lines (the ones with a '1' and a '0') to result in a single line with a 10.

Splitting lines

When you have a line with a width of 2 or more, you can split it into multiple single-width lines by pressing the s key. Try finding all the wide lines below and splitting them up.

Split the tab line into two

It's a good idea to limit the length of a staff to about 80 characters or so. You can split a long tab into two with the keyboard shortcut command+entercontrol+enter. Everything after the cursor will be put onto a new line. Try splitting the line below between the 5s and the 6s.

Adding a new tab line

Below the tab, you'll see buttons that allow you to add components. Click on the add tab button to append a new tab line to the document.

Adding a new chord line

Many tabs specify chords in a single line of text instead of specifying them fully in tablature. Click the add chords button to append a line of chords to the document.

Typing in chord lines

You are free to type any text in the chord line but it is intended to contain only names of chords that occur in the song. You'll notice that any text you enter will overwrite any existing text at the cursor location instead of inserting it before the text like in a normal text box. This is so that changes to the beginning of the line don't displace text near the end. Try typing into the text box to see how it works.

Adding a new lyrics line

You can also include lyrics in your tab by clicking the add lyrics button.

Typing in a lyrics line

Enter lyrics by typing like you would in any other text box. Nothing special here really.

Using the selection menu

When you select some lines, a pop-up menu is shown with buttons that allow you to perform some common editing actions. You can use this menu to make lines wider or narrower, cut, copy, delete, split, merge, or clear lines. Try selecting all the lines with 4s and merging them using the menu.

Reordering lines

You can change the order of tab, chord, and lyric lines by dragging and dropping them, or by clicking the up and down arrows on the left side of the line. Put the lines below in numerical order.

Deleting lines

You can delete an entire tab, chord, or lyrics line by clicking the red button with the
on it in the top left of the line. Try deleting the tab line that contains the 2s.

That's it!

That's all you need to know to start writing your own tabs.