What Does R and B Mean in Guitar Tabs?

Guitar tabs are a popular and easy-to-read method for notating guitar music. They use numbers and letters to represent various techniques and notes. Two common symbols you might encounter in guitar tabs are "R" and "B". But what do these letters mean, and how do they affect your playing? Let's dive in and explore their significance.

The Meaning of R in Guitar Tabs

In guitar tablature, "R" typically stands for "Release". When you see this symbol, it indicates that you should:

  1. Stop playing the note
  2. Release pressure on the string
  3. Allow the string to stop vibrating

The "R" symbol is often used in conjunction with techniques like bends or slides to indicate precisely when to end the technique.

The Meaning of B in Guitar Tabs

"B" in guitar tabs usually represents "Bend". When you encounter a "B", you should:

  1. Play the indicated note
  2. Push the string upwards or downwards, raising the pitch
  3. Hold the bend for the duration specified

Bends are a crucial technique in many guitar styles, particularly in rock and blues music.

How to Use R and B in Your Playing

Understanding these symbols can significantly improve your guitar playing:

  • R (Release): Use this to create clean, distinct notes and avoid unintended sustain.
  • B (Bend): Master this technique to add expression and emotion to your playing.

Many famous guitar riffs use bends and releases. For instance:

  1. "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
  2. "Crossroads" by Cream
  3. "Purple Rain" by Prince


Mastering the use of "R" and "B" in guitar tabs will enhance your playing and help you accurately interpret written guitar music. Practice these techniques regularly to incorporate them seamlessly into your guitar repertoire.

Remember, guitar tabs are just one part of becoming a skilled guitarist. Combine your tab-reading skills with ear training and music theory knowledge for the best results.

Happy playing!

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