Happy Birthday Guitar Chords: Lyrics and Melody

To play Happy Birthday on guitar, you only need to know four chords: G, D, D7, and C. Here are the chords and lyrics to the song:

Happy birthday to you,
D7 G
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear [name],
D7 G
Happy birthday to you.

The strumming pattern is easy and goes like this: Down, down-up, down-up (it just repeats). 

In this Killer Rig article, we are going to learn how to play happy birthday chords and the proper way to strum them. This can be done on both electric and acoustic guitars. Keep reading to learn more!

Happy Birthday Guitar Chords

The most basic way to play the happy birthday chords is with a simple G, D, D7, and C progression and in that order. Here are the chord diagrams and the correct finger placement:

Happy birthday guitar chords diagrams.

In the chord diagram above, the “O” above each string means that you play it open. When you see an “X”, it means you do not strum that string when playing the guitar chord.

These are all beginner guitar chords and can be learned quite easily. Some of the challenges might be moving from the 1st fret on the second string to the 2nd on the fifth. But with some practice, it will become quite easy.

Happy Birthday Chords and Lyrics

Now that you know how to play the happy birthday chords, it’s time to learn the lyrics and chord progression.

The easiest way to do this is by learning the melody of the song. Each chord is played with one downward strum. And only one at a time as you progress through the song.

We have included the lyrics below and where each note is strummed within the song. There are 4 sections, we suggest playing one at a time like this:

  1. Happy [G] birthday to [D] you.
  2. Happy [D7] birthday to [G] you.
  3. Happy [C] birthday dear [G] Thomas.
  4. Happy [D7} birthday to [G] you.

Happy Birthday Guitar Tabs

Are the chords too difficult? Or maybe there is not enough time to learn them. Then you can always play the song using single-string notes.

Below you will find the tabs to play happy birthday along with the lyrics. In the diagram below, simply insert the name of the birthday person where you see Killer Rig.

Happy birthday tabs.

When you pick the strings, simply use all down strokes to keep it very simple. The strumming pattern isn’t critical, as the tempo is slow. Here is a video to help you see how to play the tabs one at a time.

Happy Birthday Strumming Pattern

Now that you know how to play the chords, it’s important to get the right strumming pattern. You will be happy to know that it’s very easy!

Strumming pattern: DD-UU-DU.

The D represents downstrokes, while the U is for the upstrokes. If you are new to playing the guitar or just want to surprise someone on their birthday, take it slow until you get the hang of it.

How Hard is Happy Birthday on Guitar?

You will be pleased to know that Happy Birthday is a very easy, beginner guitar song. The song uses simple chords and a melody that new players can easily follow along to.

Strumming is not difficult and will be one of the easier aspects of learning the song. So if you’re ready, grab your guitar and let’s lean how to play!

Happy Birthday Chord Tips

Playing Happy Birthday to someone on their special day is unforgettable. Even if you are not a regular guitar player. So here are a few tips to help you master this song before the special day.

  1. Practice the chord shapes: First try and get comfortable with the chords. Stretch your fingers and practice pressing down the notes.
  2. Work on changing chords: Next, you will need to quickly change between chords. Use a metronome to help you once you improve.
  3. Play along to a track: It can be very helpful to play along to a recording of the song. This way, you will know how and when to use downstrokes and upstrokes.


Learning how to play happy birthday on the guitar is quite easy. Even if you are a beginner, with some practice, you should be able to play it quite well.

Remember to start slow and increase the tempo as you get comfortable with the chords and melody. Use this online metronome to help you keep time.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!