The best system of notation for the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar is called Tablature. I was the first to use tablature for our art form when I realized its potential for kī hōʻalu. I included it in the first method book ever written for Slack Key Guitar which I wrote and published in 1971. (“A Method Book for The Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar by Keola Beamer” was later released in the U.S. and in Japan, published by Oak Publications in New York).

Tab is very easy to use and a great tool for the communication of music. The text for this lesson is taken directly from an Instruction book that I wrote for Mel Bay Publications, entitled “Learn to Play Hawaiian Slack-Key Guitar” by myself (Keola Beamer) and Mark Nelson. To learn how to read tablature, download the PDF of this section of the book. (Used with permission from the authors.)

  1. Download and print out How To Read Tablature.
  2. Take some time to print the material and study its contents before we continue.
  3. When you are basically comfortable with how to use the Tablature System, you are ready to begin the exercises.

Next: Tablature Exercise #1