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 and tabs to Happy Birthday in the key of C Major and then learn it in different key signatures. We’ll also look at how it can be played it in different time signatures.
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.
Guitar chords to Happy Birthday in the key of C Major
There are 3 basic guitar chords to Happy Birthday. In the key of C Major, they 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.
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:
- What are the first chords you should learn on guitar?
- 6 tips to get better at switching between chords on guitar.
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.
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
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:
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
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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:
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:
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!
To learn more songs, check out the sheet music with guitar tabs resource on this site.
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,