Happy Birthday ʻUkulele Chords (+ Tab)

One of the most widely known songs in the Western world, every player worth his or her salt should probably know how to play Happy Birthday on ʻukulele.

Included below are two keys so you can strum the one that fits your voice the best. There’s also an ʻukulele tab that shows how to pick the melody of Happy Birthday. Both are pretty simple, but the picking in the key of F is probably easier.

The weirdest thing about this song is that it’s actually in 3/4 time so be sure to count one beat short of the normal four! 1…2…3…1…2…3…

To keep the beat going steady in this odd time signature, it can be helpful to substitute a strum for a pick on the first beat. So instead of strumming your ʻukulele on every beat, you would play “pluck, strum, strum.” This really brings across that traditional waltz feel.

It might sound a little goofy on a such a rambunctious, plodding tune like Happy Birthday, but it will force you to get used to dropping one beat from the standard 4/4.

If you’re holding the right chord it doesn’t matter which note you pluck! Because each string is harmonized by the chord, any note you strike will work. I like a lower note to emphasize the “low, high, high” pick, strum, strum pattern.

Click the “PDF Download” link for a PDF version of the melody in the key of F. This is also the best bet for people more comfortable with standard notation “sheet music.”

Happy Birthday
Traditional
Free PDF Download

Key of C:

      C           G7
Happy Birthday to you!
                  C
Happy Birthday to you!
                     F
Happy Birthday dear [PERSON]!
      C        G7 C
Happy Birthday to you!

Picking:
A |--------|--------3--|--2--------------------|
E |--3--3--|--5--3-----|-----------------3--3--|
C |--------|-----------|-----------------------|
G |--------|-----------|-----------------------|

A |--------5--|--3-------------------|--10--7-----|
E |--5--3-----|----------------3--3--|---------8--|
C |-----------|----------------------|------------|
G |-----------|----------------------|------------|

A |-----------------8--8--|--7--3--5--|--3-------||
E |--7--5-----------------|-----------|----------||
C |-----------------------|-----------|----------||
G |-----------------------|-----------|----------||

Key of F:

      F           C7
Happy Birthday to you!
                  F
Happy Birthday to you!
                     Bb
Happy Birthday dear [PERSON]!
      F        C7 F
Happy Birthday to you!

Picking:
A |--------|-----------|-----------------------|
E |--------|--------1--|--0--------------------|
C |--0--0--|--2--0-----|-----------------0--0--|
G |--------|-----------|-----------------------|

A |-----------|----------------------|--3--0-----|
E |--------3--|--1-------------------|--------1--|
C |--2--0-----|----------------0--0--|-----------|
G |-----------|----------------------|-----------|

A |-----------------1--1--|--0--------|----------||
E |--0--------------------|-----1--3--|--1-------||
C |-----2-----------------|-----------|----------||
G |-----------------------|-----------|----------||

Find other easy uke songs like this.

By Brad Bordessa

I’m an ‘ukulele artist from Honoka’a, Hawai’i, where I run this site from a little plantation house in the jungle. I’ve taught workshops internationally, made Herb Ohta Jr. laugh until he cried, and once borrowed a uke to jam with HAPA onstage in my boardshorts. More about me

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