Simplifying tabs

When you first look at a piece of tablature, especially for fingerstyle, at first glance it looks like an impossible number of random notes that you somehow have to figure out a way to memorize.

What a nightmare!

The easiest way to approach something like this is to identify patterns and shapes. Use the bass notes to figure out what chords are being played, or being implied. Secondly, figure out what picking patterns are being used. Sometimes it changes from bar to bar, or doesn’t seem to make sense at all. Luckily this example does. Once you’ve figured out these two things the headache inspiring tab above will turn into this:

Now just figure out the finger patterns being used.