Know the intricacies of your guitar neck in order to easily figure out the operation of a guitar and the basics of how to play the guitar.
This neck features a succession of lines that divide each fret. Holding down the string along any point in these frets will produce a note when plucked, and many of these together comprise a song. Guitar tabs show guitarists which strings to hold down and which to leave untouched. In addition to this, you can tell which fret to use when reading guitar tabs.
Figure out what string goes where in order to use tabs effectively. When you begin from the bottom of the neck as you are holding your guitar, you'll see the thinnest string, which is the 'E' string. String number two, progressing upwards, is the 'B' string, followed by the 'G', the 'D', the 'A', and finally, the sixth and thickest string, the lower 'E'. The frets are the boxes on the guitar neck, they are referred to by the numbers 1-19, starting with topmost fret being 1 and the the bottom most fret being 19. Notes are produced by pressing down your finger on these frets to adjust the string. For instance, you have to understand the notation 1-2. This simply means you press the first string down inside the second fret.
Chords involve having each string in a particular configuration of your choice. When you read guitar tabs carefully, chords can be simple to master. A C chord would be tabulated to say 2-1 4-2 5-3. 1-3 2-2 6-3 is how to play a G chord. Tab reading is easy once you have the chord configurations memorized. Strings with 0s next to them mean you don't have to press down any fret; just play it open.
You'll also need to know a few other notations and symbols if you want to learn guitar tabs. When the letter 'h' is used, it indicates that you must 'hammer on'. A 'g' in the notation means that you need to 'hammer off'. If you see a b on the note, you have to bend the string to warp the note. Notes with Rs next to them mean you have to release that note and continue on. If a "a /" notation is used, you need to slide down to the next note by simply moving your finger from the note you are playing to the next listed on the tab.
Although we can't go into sufficient detail here on how to learn guitar tabs, there are some great online guitar learning programs out there such as Guitar Superstars which are excellent resources for learning guitar.