Wait, what does that “X” mean again?

I opened up Johnny Cash “I Walk the Line” and was met with numbers on lines – Where were the notes? The music clef? How do I know what time I should be playing in? All of my previous music knowledge from primary band class had been thrown out the window. I remember learning earlier on that the “X” meant not to play a certain string, but there was no X. Only numbers.

Another learning curve, when will I ever get to start learning the actual song? At this rate I might only be able to practice and master the intro. But one small section and a handful of knowledge is better than nothing in my eyes.

For the music and chords to “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash, I found an incredibly helpful and useful website called Tabs Ultimate Guitar, (View it here!) It provides the viewer with all of the chords, lyrics, and in some cases, the timing of the song. Unfortunately for me, the timing had not been added to my chosen song, the chords were in numbers and not letters, and there were no “x’s”, I was completely in the dark. Again. But the best learning takes place from a curve ball so I knew I was in for another great adventure to learn a skill that will help my guitar playing in the future.

One thing I knew, was that the letters eBGDAE represented the strings on my guitar and that the capitalized E is the 6th string – sigh of relief.. I’m not completely in the dark. But my one piece of knowledge was not going to help me learn how to play Johnny Cash, so I went back to google and typed in “How to read guitar chords” which I later found out that the music is actually called “guitar tabs”. I luckily came across Guitar Lessons (Link Here!) where I found myself an abundance of information that helped guide me to learning how to read the music. The first thing that caught my eye, was again, a broken down list! I am becoming predictable. Their three basic numbering system of frets, fingers, and strings, immediately helped me understand the music tabs I was seeing on Tabs Ultimate Guitar.  Full of helpful tips that I had a feeling I might need to know in the future filled my computer screen, why not learn them now?

“Tab Tip: Keep in mind, you’ll always read Tab from left to right. The only time you’ll play multiple notes at the same time are when they are stacked on top of one another.” – Guitar Lessons

I really appreciated this website as it took the music notes that I was used to seeing and adapted them into the tab version for a guitar. It allowed me to see the similarities between the two, making the unknown more familiar and a little less intimidating.

But I am always in need of human confirmation – so I picked up the phone and called my friend to ask him to explain reading the music to me, just to be sure I was on the right path. We both opened Tabs Ultimate Guitar and talked our way through the 0240 number sequence at the top of the page. Thankfully, he also told me that the song is played in 1/4 and 1/8 notes!

Human Confirmation:

Finally uploaded my videos to Youtube – Enjoy! (Updated on June 27th) 

I have officially learned the basic chords of guitar, how to tune my own guitar (without a tuner!), and how to read Tab music – now onto my first few attempts at Johnny Cash.. wish me luck!



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