How to Play Happy by Pharrell Williams on Guitar

Mark McKenzie 12-17

Hey Guitar freaks.

I had a great week in the studio filming the recent Song Guitar lessons for Youtube. I really enjoyed the process and hope that the lessons come across well and are easily digested by all you hungry Guitar Players.

The song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell is a song I put on to get me sparked up and enthusiastic about my day. But as with a lot of songs these days…there is no actual ‘guitar’ in the song. So often, when I used to create my setlists for solo gigs, I would stick to songs that actually had guitar in them. The problem being, that I simply wouldn’t play some of the coolest and hippest songs.

Some songs, like Happy, are basically a cool beat and a catchy vocal line. The chords are all suggested cleverly. But it’s main thing is the drum groove and ‘feel’. So as a guitarist… the ‘feel’ is the main thing to get across.

This song lesson is a perfect opportunity to nail the groove. It’s mostly about the right hand strumming technique. The whole idea is to basically emulate a drum groove with your strum. To have a great strum, you need great technique. The ‘Tic toc’ is a must for this feel.

When I first began playing Acoustic Guitar in gigs… we played a lot of Irish songs. I was in an Acoustic 3 piece band with no drums… so the Beat, groove and rhythm had to come from our playing. At first, the groove might not really appear from your playing. But persevere and you’ll start to hear the drummer inside of you emerge. Being aware of where the 1(kick) is. And where the Snare is…. what sounds they make etc.

Check out how to play Happy by Pharrell Williams on guitar:

You’ll notice in this video, I play the strings with my left hand simply muting whilst the right hand belts out the percussive groove. The Bass strings are my kick and the thinner, trebly strings are my snare. Top(T) Bottom(B) is how I look at it.

So D D D DU UD D D is the strumming pattern
or Top Bottom is T B T BT TB DT B  
or Kick Snare is K S K SK KS K S  

Have a good look at the video and see if you can emulate the drum groove:)

Until next time.


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