Display left hand fingerings in tab notation as well as on score

I am writing scores for slide guitar, in which sometimes chords are fingered with non-slide fingers on the left hand and sometimes they are fingered with the slide. I can add left hand fingerings and they show up nicely on the score, but not on the tab. I tried to find how to do this in the help pages but couldn’t find anything.

I can’t visualise what sort of result you are expecting… How would you distinguish the fingering numbers from the fret numbers on a tab staff? Do you have a published example that shows how this would look?

I saw several instructional videos that claimed that Dorico’s tab notation and its score notation were essentially equal in expressive power. In the score notation, left hand fingerings appear just to the left of their note bodies, in a small and distinctive font. I would expect that in tab notation the left finger designator would appear just to the left of the normal fret number designator, perhaps circled or otherwise made to stand out.

That sounds like it would be very difficult to distinguish from e.g. a grace note fret number. Typically when publishers wish to indicate fingerings then they would do this on the notation staff, or possibly they would use a chord diagram above the staff to show the fingering. I don’t recall ever having seen fingering numbers on the tab staff in a published score - do you have an example?

Sorry for the delay. Here is an example. Since it is closely derived from a musical course by JJ Ronquillo, please do not use this example in any way other than as an explanation of a problem in notation.
Look at measure 11, beats 2,3, and 4. Normally you would play the three chords with the slide. However, this would interfere with any resonance in open string 4(D). So, the player is supposed to hold the slide off the strings and use left hand fingers 1 and 2 for the chords. This is easily shown in the note form of the score. However, most slide players would use the tab notation and I can’t figure out how to make Dorico display this vital information. Dorico’s instructional videos insist that anything that can be shown on the note version can also be shown in tab notation.
DustMyBroom - 2022-10-17.pdf (65.9 KB)

Oops, I meant open string 4 (D)

Sorry, I didn’t explain myself well. I am familiar with how fingerings are displayed on the notation staff, and Dorico supports this. However, I have never seen a published score which shows fingerings on the tab staff. Dorico doesn’t support this at present, and I can’t imagine how it would work in a way that would be readable.

Thank you, Richard for spending so much time on what I guess is a niche issue for Dorico. Somehow I thought that I had seen how to turn an option on, but it looks like the current version of Dorico does not support the representation of left hand fingering on tablature, even though it does so nicely in the note representation.

In the Steinberg instructional video “Tablature for fretted instruments: New features in Dorico 3” at the beginning, Anthony Hughes asserts that the tablature and note layouts are simply different representations of the same information. I guess that slide guitar is too much of a niche instrument to get much priority, but having a direct way to specify left hand (fretting hand) fingering would be very useful. My teacher tells me that many slide guitarists prefer to use tablature.
I will see if I can use something general in the layout options to make a temporary annotation of special left-hand fingerings until a standard emerges and Dorico supports it.
The chord-fretting diagrams that Dorico does provide will not help, since I am trying to annotate some special situations where a non-traditional fret fingering is called for.

If Left hand fingering is not an option in the Tab - and yes, it would be confusing - you could always use text, and position the fingerings outside the tab lines. A bit of work, but presumably you wouldn’t need to do too many of them, as the tab has already given so much topographical information.

Apologies for butting in here a little - the topic has got me curious…

As Richard already asked, can you point to any example that shows the desired LH fingering indication in the TAB please.? I’ve googled around for a little while now, to no avail…


No, I cannot point to any current published tablature score which Dorico cannot handle. I was led astray by a video by Anthony Hughes, who seems to work for Steinberg. I documented that in the conversation thread. Putting special fret-hand guidelines on note scores seems to fulfill a valid purpose, such as happened in DustMyBroom. Anthony Hughes’ statement would imply that if it shows up in the note representation then there ought to be a logically equivalent way to show it on the tablature notation. This is especially true since apparently many slide guitarists never look at the note form, only the tablature. As it turns out, I have thought of an alternative. The problem is that strings that have no fret number in the tablature are usually muted. So if two strings have the same fret number and all other strings are muted, then the slide could be used. However, the author of the score wants the string in between to “ring out”, or vibrate sympathetically. So, perhaps it should be notated with a zero and a “dead note” indicator. So, if strings 3-5 show 3 nothing 3 then a slide can be used for the bichord. However, something like 3 x 3 would make it clear that string 4 must be left open and free to sound sympathetically.

In any case, one person suggested the use of free text in the engraving to solve the problem for the moment. I’ll probably do that.