Hallelujah guitar TAB full guitar lesson and guide on how to play Hallelujah

In this written guitar lesson I’m going to provide you with the full Hallelujah guitar TAB. I’ll also show you how to play Hallelujah on guitar in the same way as I do. This is a great little piece to learn. It can be finger picked or played with a pick or a combination of both. The song is in 6/8 which to some may feel a little alien compared to common time and it only uses a few basic open chords which opens the song up to all skill levels. This means that Hallelujah gives you a musical way of practicing playing in 6/8, practicing finger picking, practicing picking arpeggios with a pick and if you’re a newer guitar player, practicing those chord changes.

There’re a few versions of Hallelujah and this one doesn’t specifically show you how to play any of them. It shows you how to play it the way I do. The reason for that is because my favourite version is the John Cale version but that’s based around piano rather than guitar. This version in the key of C major gives you the building blocks and shows you how to play along with and support the vocals. Feel free to manipulate the structure or the way that it’s played if you wish but following the below will show you how to play the song from start to end.

Hallelujah guitar lesson TAB and guide

We’re opening with a 4 bar intro for this version of Hallelujah. 1 bar of C, 1 of Am and then repeated. Here’s the TAB. Simple enough way to get started and this intro is also used as a pre verse through the piece.

Hallelujah intro guitar TAB

The vocal part will then come in slightly before the start of the next bar. The first lyric is performed at the time of that very last note in the final bar of the introduction.

What follows is an arpeggio based 16 bar verse section. This section utilises simple open chords that every guitar player knows or at least should know if you’re looking into learning Hallelujah. Below you can see the full TAB for the first verse of the song.

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Hallelujah verse guitar TAB

The rhythm of the verse is very safe and never changes. As long as you know what chord is next and the strings that are picked you’ll be fine. The most difficult part of this section comes in bar 10 where we get the only bar that is split between 2 chords which are F and G. I remember learning this back in the day and this bar and the following couple of bars were the hardest to get my head around because the slight shift in approach.

That final bar of the verse section gives you a little bit of a rest. The chorus can follow immediately from that bar but you could make the break longer if you choose. Here’s the TAB.

Hallelujah chorus guitar TAB

What you would do next is repeat those parts including the intro right up until the last verse of the song. The chorus that precedes that verse looks slightly different. Here’s the TAB.

Hallelujah chorus that precedes final verse

So what’s different there? Well not much. Everything is exactly the same up until bar 9 which technically comes after the chorus section but it’s easier to show what happens in full context. What happens is, instead of following the chorus with another intro section, we play in this case 1 single C note followed by some empty space. If you’d like to substitute the C note for a full C open chord that works as well. The amount of bars that you rest for is really up to you. Do what feels right. The vocalist can bring the song back in with the first note of the final verse which comes in just before the first bar like at the beginning.

I’ve taken a different approach to the final parts of the song. We’re now going to move to a strumming approach. Here’s the TAB for the verse. You don’t need TAB necessarily here but why not.

Hallelujah strummed verse 

Once again I’ve left a few rest bars at the end and once again this is to the discretion of the performer or performers. Whoever is performing the vocals can again pick things up and lead into the final chorus of the song whenever needed.

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What about the strumming? Well the simple and effective way of performing this is with all down strokes DDDDDD placing emphasis on the 1st and 4th eighth note in each bar. This isn’t something to be strummed aggressively. We’re still looking for a gentle approach. The emotional range in Hallelujah would tend to come from the vocals. You can alter that strumming pattern slightly if you like.

If you prefer the chords written out rather than in TAB, here are the chords for the verse.

C / Am / C / Am

F / G / C / G

C / F, G / C / F (note that split bar)

G / Em / Am / C

The following is the strummed chorus section which concludes this version of Hallelujah. Here’s the TAB. The vocals will again come in just before the start of the strumming.

Hallelujah strummed chorus

I guess this is a section where you could play with the arrangement a little if you like. For example you could make it longer to allow the vocalist to play around a little bit. I tend to just leave this structure alone though but you now have the building blocks for the song so if you want to play with it and make it your own, go right ahead.

Hallelujah melody guitar TAB

So I often like to play instrumental music. Partly because I aren’t a lover of social interaction and partly because I can’t sing to save my life. The melody for Hallelujah is quite simple in its most basic form so it wasn’t that hard to figure out. Below you’ll find the TAB for each part of the Hallelujah melody.

Hallelujah melody guitar TAB verse part 1

Above you see the first part of the Hallelujah verse melody. Notice the first bar. Throughout the lesson I’ve mentioned that the melody sometimes begins before the first beat of the first bar. This is known as an anacrusis or pick up. Hopefully now that you can see it in action you understand what I’ve been talking about. It isn’t necessary to include the rests in the bar but I do just so it’s easier to visualise. You’ll see this in other parts of the melody.

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Hallelujah melody guitar TAB verse part 2

Hallelujah melody guitar TAB chorus

Those are all the melody parts you should need and once more, this in in the most basic form. If you want to adjust it slightly here and there to differentiate 1 part from the next then that is fine but just don’t stray too far from this.

The melody needs to be played with as much emotion as possible. I’d recommend a clean tone with a bit of reverb added.

I talked at the start about why I’ve decided to do a guitar lesson on Hallelujah but one thing I didn’t bring up is the fact that Hallelujah is simply a very pleasant song to play. It can be a very calm and relaxing piece to perform and is suitable for all skill levels. It’s a very versatile song indeed so give this one a go and see if you can come up with a better cover version by building on what I’ve shown you here.  

What next?

Hallelujah is quite a unique song, so linking to similar songs to learn is kind of tricky. I’ll pick 3 clean simple songs at random and just hope that you find them interesting. If now, just check out the how to play songs tag at the top of the page. 

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