Learn Happy Birthday Guitar Chords: Lyrics and Melody Included

Happy Birthday guitar chords are a popular way to celebrate a friend or loved one. The history of the birthday guitar chords dates back to the early nineteenth century. Learning how to play them on guitar can make someone’s special day much better!

There are four happy birthday guitar chords that are quite easy to play. They are G, D, D7, and C which are chords that even beginners can play with some practice. The only challenge at first might be a change from the D7 chord to G.

In this 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.

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 chords and the correct finger placement.

Happy birthday guitar chords.

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.


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.

Further reading: How many guitar chords are there?

Photo of author

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!