How to play Hey Ya by Outkast on guitar easy songs to play on guitar

In this guitar lesson, I’ll be showing you how to play Hey Ya by Outkast on guitar. Hey Ya is an all around fun track both to play on guitar, and to listen to. It’s a song that’s open to all skill levels and as far as I’m aware, everyone loves it.

Hey Ya was written and produced by Outkast member Andre 3000 and was one of two lead tracks from the group’s fifth studio album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. The track was a big success commercially, reaching number one in the United States and multiple other countries such as Canada and Australia. It received lots of critical acclaim upon its release and is widely considered to be one of the greatest songs of the 2000s. Many consider this to be Outkast’s greatest song and some may even consider it to be one of the best songs of all time.

This is a great track to add to your repertoire so here we go, this is how to play Hey Ya by Outkast on guitar. Get your strumming hat on, this one is a joy to learn so have fun.

Looking for a relaxing day on the guitar? You’re in the right place.

how to play hey ya by outkast on guitar

How to play Hey Ya by Outkast on guitar

Hey Ya is all about the strumming. This is going to be a guitar lesson based around chords and rhythm. No crazy guitar solos or famous guitar riffs today. This means that the first thing that you will need to know is the chords that are used for the song so here are all of the Hey Ya guitar chords. By the way, if you ever need to learn new guitar chords, be sure to check out the Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat guitar chord library. There’s an ocean of guitar chords there waiting for you. It took ages to make so click it at some point.

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Hey Ya guitar chords

Nice and easy right? There’s only 4 chords and the strumming is very basic, so this is ideal for beginners or more experienced players looking to learn a cool song really quickly. There’s only one tricky part involving a change in time signature, but we’ll get to that later.

How to play Hey Ya by Outkast on guitar – the chord progression

Another thing that makes Hey Ya by Outkast ideal for beginners is the fact that there’s only one chord progression. That chord progression is just 6 bars in length and it looks like this.

G / C / C / D / E / E

This chord progression loops through the entire track without any deviation. It covers the verses, the choruses, everything. Once you’ve learned the chord progression, you’ve pretty much learned the entire song. Nice and easy right? Not so fast, we aren’t done quite yet.

How to play Hey Ya by Outkast on guitar – there’s 2 time signatures

I’m not going to get all music theory heavy here because this isn’t a music theory lesson and I don’t want to alienate those who don’t have that level of knowledge but in order to play the song, you will have to have a basic understanding of what’s going on with the time signatures.

Hey Ya is in the time signature of 4/4. Or at least, it mostly is. Throughout the song, the time signature occasionally changes from 4/4 to 2/4. This isn’t something to be scared of because the time signature change always happens at the exact same point in the chord progression. It happens when you’re playing the D major chord. Everything else is in 4/4.

Here’s my attempt at explaining this without music theory. You play the D for half the amount of time as a standard bar of 4/4. In this case, you’ll just play the D for two downward strums. As long as you remember D major = 2 downward strums, you don’t even need to think about time signatures.

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Perhaps an example would be the best way to go. Here is what the chord progression looks like with the time signature change included. I have made the strumming extremely basic so you can easily see what happens in the song. Every beat is a downward strum. Playing this example by the way, would be a great way for a lesser experienced guitarist to learn the song prior to moving on to more advanced strumming that we will look at later. Again, don’t worry. The strumming is advanced compared to the below but it’s still incredibly basic.

How to play Hey Ya by Outkast on guitar – chord progression TAB (basic downward strumming)

Hopefully, that example has helped you understand what exactly is going on there with the chords throughout this track.

The time signature change is another reason why I decided to write a Hey Ya guitar lesson. Changing the time signature mid-way through playing is something that I personally love to do. I find it very interesting and frankly fun to do. Is this something that you can work into your own guitar playing? Can you mix 4/4 with 2/4 like Andre did here? Can you incorporate 3/4 or even 5/4?

How to play Hey Ya by Outkast – strumming the chords

The Hey Ya strumming pattern is nice and simple. All we’re going to use is a standard DDUUD. If you like, you can add an extra upward strum at the end of that which would give you DDUUDU. We all know this strumming pattern and it just straight up works. I’ve always loved how Justin from Justin Guitar refers to it “old faithful”. Brilliant.

Here is what the Hey Ya chord progression looks like when you add in the strumming pattern.

How to play Hey Ya by Outkast on guitar – putting everything together – chords / strumming pattern / time signature changes / TAB

In truth, that last image is all you really needed. I could have literally posted that image with no wording or explanation and you’d have figured it out.

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Another thing worth pointing out is that you don’t have to stick rigidly to the strumming given in the example. If you wish to do so, you can deviate from it. Mixing things up is totally fine with the strumming in Hey Ya but be sure not to stray too far from the original rhythm. As long as you remain in the groove of the track, you can strum how you like. You’ll be playing the same chord progression quite a few times so experiment and see what sounds good.

Sometimes, simple just works and Hey Ya is a prime example of just that but with a little extra bit of flavour. Enjoy.

What next?

This lesson on how to play Hey Ya by Outkast on guitar is the latest in an ever growing catalogue of song tutorials here at Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’m trying to come up with really cool songs or, songs that will help you as a guitarist in some way. Be sure to check out the “how to play songs” tag to see what else is available. Also be sure to check out the latest two song tutorials that I’ve written. 

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