There are some songs out there that are a staple as part of the learning process for the guitar and Happy Birthday is one of them. As one of the popular kid songs on guitar, learning the chords for happy birthday means you can play it at the next birthday party you go to. In this guide we are going to teach you the four guitar chords needed to play the song – G, D, D7 and C.
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Because happy birthday has such a simple strumming pattern with just one strum at the beginning of each corresponding word, the easiest way to learn it is to play each individual chord. Below are the happy birthday chords you need to learn to make up the whole song. Eventually, the chord progression will be G – D – D7 – G – C – G – D7 – G to play the whole song from start to finish.
Your first finger will play the A string on the second fret. Your second finger will play the low E string at the third fret. Your third finger will play the high E string at the third fret. To play the G chord, leave the second, third and fourth strings open. Some people prefer to play the second string on the third fret as well. If you want to do this then you will need to move your ring finger up a fret and then cover the first string with your pinky on the third fret. Do whatever works best for you.
Here your first finger is on the third string at the second fret. Your second finger goes to the first string on the second fret. Next, take your third finger and place it on the second string while using the third fret. When you are playing the D chord you will have to leave the fourth string completely open. You should only be strumming the bottom four strings to make up the chord and mute the fifth and sixth strings, otherwise, it won’t sound right.
To play happy birthday on guitar then you will need to learn the D7 chord. Take your first finger and play the second string at the first fret. Your second finger is in charge of the third string on the second fret. The first string is taken over by your third finger and you will need to use the second fret if you want to play happy birthday on guitar. As you are playing the D7 chord you will want to leave the fourth string open. Only the bottom four strings need to be played. Both the fifth and sixth strings should not be played and need to be left completely silent if you want to get the right tune for the happy birthday song.
The final entry for our happy birthday guitar chords is the C chord. For this one, your first finger is placed on the second string using the first fret. Your second finger goes onto the fourth string and will be using the second fret. The third finger is placed onto the fifth string using the third fret. The first and third strings have to be left open to play a C chord properly and the sixth string should also not be strummed.
Now that you have mastered the guitar chords for happy birthday you will want to learn the strumming pattern that goes along with it. The strumming is actually very simple. You will play happy birthday in 3/4 time so that means that there will be three beats for every measure. On every beat, you will do a downstroke strum. You can leave it there if you want to play the simplest version at a birthday party. If you want to take happy birthday to the next level, add in an upstroke on the ‘and’ of the second and third beats of every measure. It will look something like this:
Down, down-up, down-up
1 2 & 3 &
The same strumming pattern is used throughout the entire song so you can play happy birthday easily.
Playing happy birthday guitar chords is really that simple. The only part you may find challenging is the last chord switch where you quickly go from D7 to a G chord. Keep practicing this over and over again and you will get the switch down easily. Have fun playing happy birthday on guitar!