How to play Happy Birthday song (guitar chords, melody with tabs and strumming patterns)

Last updated on February 8th, 2024


If there’s one song you should know on guitar, it’s probably Happy Birthday. Even if you don’t play your guitar as often as you’d like, this is one must know song you can learn to celebrate the people in your life.

We’ll first cover the guitar chords to Happy Birthday and melody with tabs in the key of C Major and then learn it in different key signatures and time signatures. Grab your guitar and let’s get started!

How to read the guitar chord charts

To clarify how to read the chord charts, the top horizontal line represents the high E string and the bottom horizontal line represents the low E string. The vertical lines separate each fret. The numbers in the blue dots tell you which fingers to use on the fretting hand.

The letters on the right of the charts tell you what notes you are playing on each string.

For example, on the C Major chord, you use the:

  • 1st finger on the 2nd string, 1st fret
  • 2nd finger on the 4th string, 2nd fret
  • 3rd finger on the 5th string, 3rd fret
  • Circles represent open strings
  • X means to avoid a string

You can check this link for more on how to read guitar notation symbols.

Happy Birthday guitar chords

The 3 basic guitar chords to Happy Birthday in the key of C Major are C Major, F Major, and G Major, which are the 1, 4, and 5 chord. You can click on the chords with links to learn different ways of playing that chord.

Try the following chords one at a time until you feel comfortable switching between them. These chords will be written above the melody in the next section.

happy birthday key of c - chord charts

If this F chord is difficult to play, you can try it without the note on the 1st string. Or you can try one of the variations mentioned in 13 ways to play an F chord on guitar.

Here are some other resources for chords:

Happy Birthday chords with lyrics

Chords are indicated in parentheses. Play the chord right on the lyric after the parenthesis.

Happy (C) Birthday to (G) you,

Happy (G) Birthday to (C) you,

Happy (C) Birthday dear (F) someone,

Happy (C) Birthday (G) to (C) you!

Happy Birthday guitar tabs in C Major

Here is the sheet music for the melody including guitar tabs and lyrics. The melody and guitar chords are written as separate parts unless you know how to connect a melody and chords.

If needed, refer to this simple guide to understanding music symbols.

By the way, you can get all the PDFs of this post below.


happy birthday tabs and chords

Happy Birthday strumming patterns

For a simple pattern, you can strum the chords on the downbeats and upbeats (every eight note).

One measure would be down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up like this:

Strumming Pattern 1

happy birthday guitar strumming pattern 1

Strumming Pattern 2

Or you can break up the rhythm by just holding down on the 1st beat.

One measure would be down, down, up, down, up, down, up like this:

happy birthday guitar strumming pattern 2

You can also use these strumming patterns for the examples in different keys ahead or try some of these 12 easy strumming patterns for guitar.

Other related resources:

Now, let’s start learning Happy Birthday in different key signatures.

Guitar chords to Happy Birthday in G Major

The guitar chords to Happy Birthday in the key of G Major are G Major, D Major, and C Major. See the chord charts below.



Melody with tabs and chords in G Major



Guitar chords to Happy Birthday in D Major

The guitar chords to Happy Birthday in the key of D Major are D Major, A Major, and G Major. See the chord charts below.


Melody with tabs and chords in D Major



Guitar Essentials (Expanded Edition) front cover

Guitar Essentials is a step-by-step approach to learning to play the guitar. This ebook will guide you from the fundamental beginner skills to being able to play songs on your own. Whether you have little to no experience playing guitar, this will help you take your skills to the next level!
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Guitar chords to Happy Birthday in A Major

The guitar chords to Happy Birthday in the key of A Major are A Major, E Major, and D Major. See the chord charts below.


Melody with tabs and chords in A Major



Happy Birthday in 3/4 time signature

The song can be played in both 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures so it’s good to know how to play it both ways. The important thing you need to know is when the chords change on specific words.

The sheet music would look like this in a 3/4 time signature.

Guitar strumming pattern 1 in a 3/4 time signature

Just like we did for the simple strumming pattern in 4/4, we can strum on every eight note like this:

happy birthday guitar strumming pattern 1 in 3/4

Guitar strumming pattern 2 in a 3/4 time signature

For the second strumming pattern, we simply hold the downstroke on beat 1 like this:

happy birthday guitar strumming pattern 2 in 3/4

Wrapping up

There are many different ways to play Happy Birthday so see which key feels most natural to play the song in. It may take a little time to polish the chord changes, especially toward the ending where the chords change a little quicker. But with some time and practice, you’ll be able to master this classic song.

Get ready to pickup your guitar for the next Birthday celebration!

Get the free guitar practice guide here!

Want to learn more songs? Check out the sheet music with guitar tabs resource on this site.

All the best,

JG Music Lessons

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