fbpx

Happy Birthday Guitar Chords (How to Play Happy Birthday)

Last Updated On:

There are a few staple songs that everyone learning to play the guitar needs to know, and happy birthday is one of them. Next time you are at someone’s birthday party when everyone is singing happy birthday, you will be able to grab your guitar and play.

How to Play Happy Birthday on the Guitar

Here is how to play happy birthday on guitar. It only requires four chords, all of which are very common. The four happy birthday guitar chords are G, D, D7, and C, and they are played in this order.

G     D    D7   G

C     G    D7   G

It’s that simple! The only part that can challenge people is the last chord switch, where you quickly go from the D7 to the G, but with enough practice, you will get that quick switch down easily!

Guitar Tricks

Our Top Pick
9.8/10 Our Score

Best Course for Learning Guitar Today

  • Guitar Tricks is the #1 option for learning guitar in 2021
  • Learn guitar like a natural quick and easy
  • Full money back guarantee
  • Comes with a no-risk 14-day trial

The strumming is also quite simple. The song is in ¾ time, which means that there are three beats to each measure. On each beat, you need to do a downstroke. For the simplest strumming pattern, you can leave it at that. However, if you want to take it up a notch, try adding in an upstroke on “and” of beat 2 and 3 of each measure.

The strumming pattern would look like this:

Down, down-up, down-up

   1         2      &       3    &

Repeat that strumming pattern throughout the song, and you’re good to go!

Learning the Chords

Because happy birthday has a simple strum pattern, a single strum at the beginning of the corresponding word, the most important thing when learning to play happy birthday is learning to play the happy birthday chords themselves!

First is the G chord

chord chart for the G major guitar chord.
  • First finger: 2nd fret, A string
  • Second finger: 3rd fret, low-E string
  • Third finger: 3rd fret, high-e string.

When playing the G chord, leave the second, third and fourth strings open. Some people like to play the 3rd fret of the second string as well, in which case you move your ring finger up one fret and cover the third fret of the first string with your pinky. Many people like playing it either way, so just do what works best for you!

The next chord is the D chord

  • First finger: 2nd fret, third string
  • Second finger: 2nd fret, first string
  • Third finger: 3rd fret, second string  

While playing the D chord, leave the fourth string open. Only strum the bottom four strings for this chord, muting the fifth and sixth strings.

The next chord is the D7. 

  • First finger: 1st fret, second string
  • Second finger: 2nd fret, third string
  • Third finger: 2nd fret, first string

While playing the D7 chord, leave the fourth string open and only play the bottom four strings. The fifth and sixth strings should be silent.

The last chord is the C chord

chord chart for c major
  • First finger: 1st fret, second string
  • Second finger: 2nd fret, fourth string
  • Third finger: 3rd fret, fifth string

While playing the C chord, leave the first and third strings open while not strumming the sixth string.

You can find further descriptions of the G, D, and C chords here.

Guitar Tricks

Our Top Pick
9.8/10 Our Score

Best Course for Learning Guitar Today

  • Guitar Tricks is the #1 option for learning guitar in 2021
  • Learn guitar like a natural quick and easy
  • Full money back guarantee
  • Comes with a no-risk 14-day trial

Read next:

Playing Somewhere over the Rainbow guitar chords

Best guitar songs to play at the campfire

Play Amazing Grace guitar chords

How to play Smells like Teen Spirit guitar chords