Music for fretted, stringed instruments is commonly notated using tablature, also known as tab, which provides a visual representation of the strings and fret numbers:
Tablature can also be combined with traditional staff notation:
If you wish to create tablature as part of a new score, use the New Score Wizard. If you want to add tablature to an existing score, use the Instruments dialog. Or, alternatively, you can convert an existing standard staff. See below for details.
To create tablature in a new score (for combined staff/tablature systems see → below):
Note: If the desired tablature is not available in the Choose Instrument list, add a tablature staff anyway at step 4 (above). Then edit the tablature to your exact requirements using the Staff/Part properties dialog.
To add a single tablature staff to an existing score (for combined staff/tab system see below):
To convert an existing standard staff to tablature, or tablature to a standard staff:
Note: If you only want to view (rather than change) the instrument tuning, follow steps 1 and 2 only.
Right-click on the staff and select Staff/Part Properties….
Press the Edit String Data… button at the bottom of the dialog box. The String Data dialog opens:
Click on a string pitch and select Edit String…. Or, alternatively, just double-click the string pitch.
Notes: (1) If tuning is changed when the tablature for that instrument already contains some notes, fret marks will be adjusted automatically (if possible); (2) Any change of tuning to a particular instrument applies only to the score at hand, and does not change any program default settings.
Note: After adding a tablature string you will need to adjust the number of lines in the Staff/Part properties dialog.
Note: After deleting a tablature string you will need to adjust the number of lines in the Staff/Part properties dialog.
This feature is used to mark a (bass) course as unstopped (i.e. like a harp string, only played in the open position): as on a Baroque lute or Theorbo etc. This means that only "0" (zero) or "a" is accepted as a fret mark: any other fret mark will be converted to 0/a.
This property defines the maximum fret number which can be entered on a tablature staff.
To access the full range of tablature display options, use the Staff / Parts Properties dialog:
Some basic tablature display options are available from the Instruments dialogue:
The same options are available from the Choose Instruments page of the New Score Wizard.
Plucked-string instruments—such as the guitar—are commonly notated using both a music staff and tablature (TAB) together. MuseScore gives you the option of having the two staves either unlinked or linked:
Unlinked Staves: The advantage of using this option is that each staff can be edited independently. To transfer music notation from one staff to the other, select the desired range and copy and paste it onto the other staff.
Linked Staves: The staves are "mutually updating": i.e. any change you make to the notation in one staff is immediately applied to the other staff as well.
A note on fret mark conflicts: When the same note is entered in two different voices, MuseScore tries to ensure that the fret marks do not overlap on the same string. Any overlaps which do occur are marked with red squares: these appear only in the document window and not on any printed copy. In almost all cases (e.g. frets 0 to 4 on the 6th string), overlapping is the desired result and no further adjustment is required. You can hide the red marks by selecting "View" and unticking "Show Unprintable."
Note: To create unlinked staves with separate mixer channels, instead of step "5" (above), select a Tablature staff in the left-hand column and click Add. Then continue with steps 6 and 7.
To add tablature to a plucked-string staff in the score (or vice versa):
Press 0 to 9 to enter a fret mark from 0 to 9 on the current string; to enter numbers with several digits press each digit in sequence. Keys A to K (skipping I) can also be used: convenient when working in French tablature. For L , M, N, use the alphanumeric keyboard and type respectively 10, 11, 12... (Note: You cannot enter a number higher than the "Number of frets" value set in the Edit String Data dialog).
Press ; (semicolon) to enter a rest of the selected duration.
You can enter notes in different voices if required—just as you would in a standard staff.
See also, Edit notes (below).
Period notation for bass strings (lutes and sim.) is supported:
French tablature: letters with prefixed slash-like strokes right under the tab body: i.e. 7th string: "a", 8th string: "/a", 9th string: "//a" and so on, all in the first position below the tab body.
Italian tablature: numbers with 'ledger line'- like segment of string above the tab body: i.e. 7th string: "0" one position above the tab body with one 'ledger line'; 8th string: "0" two positions above the tab body with two 'ledger lines' and so on.
Input of fretmarks is via computer keyboard only: by moving the note entry cursor below (French) or above (Italian) the tab body, 'shadow' slashes or ledger lines will indicate the target string to which the fret mark will be applied; pressing one of the fret keys, will enter (and lay out) the note on that string.
To enter notes into tablature with a mouse:
See also, Edit notes (below).
In note input mode, you can use any of the following methods to set note duration in tablature:
In Note input mode:
In Normal mode:
Note: The fret mark cannot be higher than the "Number of frets" value set in the Edit String Data dialog.
To move the fret mark to an adjacent string without changing the pitch (if the string is free and can produce that note):
In Note input mode:
In Normal mode:
To change a fret mark to a crosshead note:
|↑||Select above string as current.|
|↓||Select below string as current.|
|Shift+1 to Shift+9||Select a duration (128th note to a longa)|
|NumPad 1 to NumPad 9||Select a duration (128th note to a longa)|
|Q||Decrease current input duration.|
|W||Increase current input duration.|
|0 to 9||Enter a fret digit / letter.|
|A to K||Enter a fret digit / letter (I excluded).|
|Alt+Shift+↑||Increase current fret mark.|
|Alt+Shift+↓||Decrease current fret mark.|
|; (semicolon)||Enter a rest|
|0 to 9||Change duration of selected note or rest (128th note to longa)|
|Alt+Shift+↑||Increase the pitch of the selected note (MuseScore chooses the string).|
|↑||Increase the pitch without changing string.|
|Alt+Shift+↓||Decrease the pitch of the selected note (MuseScore chooses the string).|
|↓||Decrease the pitch without changing string.|
|Ctrl+↑ (Mac: Cmd+↑)||Move note to above string, keeping the pitch.|
|Ctrl+↓ (Mac: Cmd+↓)||Move note to below string, keeping the pitch.|
|Shift+X||Toggle the ghost notehead on/off.|