Amazing Grace Guitar Chords – An Essential Guide

Knowing Amazing Grace and the guitar chords is a classic music standard, and it’s been played a variety of different ways through the years. Let’s learn it together!

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn…

  • The easy way to play this classic song
  • The detailed way to play this song
  • 5 tips for playing Amazing Grace different ways
  • A fingerstyle arrangement of the song

Amazing Grace Guitar Chords for You!

Whether you are a gigging musician or an absolute beginner on the guitar, you will need to know how to play “Amazing Grace.”

This song is played at funerals, but also during ordinary church services; at celebrations inside and outside church and spiritual gatherings, as well as jam sessions.

Along with “I’ll Fly Away,” it’s the most popular spiritual song that is played outside of a specifically spiritual context.

  • That means it goes into the pile of must-know songs, no matter when or where you’re playing the guitar!
  • Luckily, one of the things that makes it so popular is that it is not very hard to play or sing.

Amazing-Grace-Guitar-Chords

In this lesson on Amazing Grace guitar chords, we’re going to learn the following:

  • Learning how to play each chord in the song
  • How the song is harmonized (the chord progression and options for modification)
  • The strumming rhythm
  • Alternate rhythms to try
  • How to play the melody
  • Optional fingerpicking arrangement

It’s good to have options, and after covering the basics, you’ll discover that you can play “Amazing Grace” plenty of different ways.

Let’s get started digging into this timelessly popular song!

You can have a look at the rhythm for the vocal melody below:

Amazing-grace-guitar-chords

The Basic Amazing Grace Guitar Chords

If you’re just not that familiar with “Amazing Grace,” you’re in for a treat. Here is a beautiful version by Lizz Wright.

“Amazing Grace” is a song that is easily played in the key of G major, using just three chords: G, C, and D.

  • If you are an absolute beginner to the guitar, you can use slightly simpler versions of these three chords to get yourself started.
  • There is no reason to hold off on playing “Amazing Grace” until you know the full versions of the chords – Try these mini-chords on for size!

G (xx0003)

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

C (xxx010)

D (xx0230)

If you are having trouble decoding those boxes, don’t fret!

You can take a tiny detour into this super helpful lesson for beginners on chordboxes.

You can practice these simple chord shapes by trying to change between them.

We’ll get to the order of these Amazing Grace guitar chords in a moment, but if you are already pretty comfortable with the simple versions of G, C, and D, you can try practicing the full versions of these open chords.

Here’s what they look like.

G (320003)

C (x32010)

D (xx0232)

For a handy shortcut to practicing these chord changes, take a look at the diagrams above.

  • The 3-2 fret combination happens on the E and A strings for the G chord; the A and D strings for the C chord; and the B and E strings for the D chord.
  • If you can practice jumping those two fingers (fingers 3 and 2) across the fretboard, you can start to build speed at changing between these three chords.

These chord combinations pop up everywhere.

Amazing-Grace-Guitar-Chords

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

Amazing Grace Guitar Chords in Sequence

The Amazing Grace guitar chords are also pretty easy to play in the sequence in which they appear in the song. This is called the chord progression.

The chord progression for “Amazing Grace” is 16 bars long. It goes like this:

G G C G

G G D D

G G C G

G D G G

Notice that the first and third lines are the same.

Pro Tip: Taking note of patterns in music helps us with memorization, making the process of learning songs easier in the long run. Always be on the lookout for patterns!

  • You can think of “Amazing Grace” as a question-and-answer-style song.
  • The first half of the song goes UP to the D chord (at the seventh measure), and the second half of the song starts out the same but then goes DOWN to the G chord at the fifteenth measure.

If that complicates things for you, it’s not worth worrying about, but realizing that chord progressions repeat and have patterns is something that makes songs easier to memorize and play without having to look at a piece of paper.

Amazing-Grace-Guitar-Chords

“Amazing Grace” is like a lot of other folk songs, in that it is learned, communicated, played and enjoyed a million different ways.

  • Looking at sheet music will not tell you how YOU want to play and sing “Amazing Grace,” although it can give you useful information to begin with.
  • Check out an easy version of these Amazing Grace guitar chords with lyrics, from Ultimate-Guitar.com here.

Pro Tip: This chord chart above presents a D7 chord in place of the D chord we have used already. Try this new chord out and see how you like it!

D7 (xx0212)

One of the great things about standard folk songs like this is that you can choose the key. Amazing Grace guitar chords are presented in quite a few keys on Ultimate Guitar and many other websites.

For now, we’re sticking with G because it is easy to play, and a comfortable range for most people to sing.

Pro-Tip: Before adding rhythm in to your version of “Amazing Grace,” try just strumming each chord once. Use this pattern and strum on the bold lyrics only.

A-MA-zing GRACE, how SWEET the SOUND. You’ll get the hang of the rhythm before even trying!

Adding Rhythm To Our Amazing Grace Guitar Chords

Now that you’ve got the Amazing Grace guitar chords down in order, let’s explore a few possibilities for putting this song into some kind of rhythm.

The first thing you need to know about the rhythm to “Amazing Grace” is that it is in 3/4 time. That means each chord gets three beats.

You can play through the song with simple down strums on the beat, like this:

G-2-3, G-2-3, C-2-3, G-2-3… and so forth.

Amazing-Grace-Guitar-Chords

If you would like some additional support for being able to keep a steady beat while strumming, tap your foot. This is the best and easiest way to help us physically keep time.

Check out this lesson we’ve got for you here: How to Play in Time.

If you’re ready to add a little bit of groove to your Amazing Grace guitar chords, try this strumming pattern:

  • Strum down on the first beat and down-up on the second and third beats.
  • Make the first beat a little stronger and louder than the other two beats, so it sounds something like “Down, down-up, down-up.”
  • Isolating the first beat with only the down stroke helps you to keep track of where you are.
  • Playing in 3/4 time is a little less intuitive than playing in 4/4 (or ‘common time’), but with a little practice you’ll get into the swing of it!

Amazing-Grace-Guitar-Chords

Alternative Amazing Grace Guitar Chords

Now that you’ve got a simple arrangement of these Amazing Grace guitar chords to work with, you can consider some modifications.

Without changing the personality of the song (and without changing the key of the song or the basic structure of chords) you can make a few easy changes to the Amazing Grace guitar chords that will make it more interesting to play.

  • Here are some common chords that will fit nicely into our basic arrangement of these Amazing Grace guitar chords in the key of G.
  • Get familiar with them, and then we can replace some of our existing chords.

G7 (320001)

D7 (xx0212)

Em (022000)

Am (x02210)

These alterations to your Amazing Grace guitar chords will add a little bit of color without changing too much of the song’s personality.

Try this progression now instead!

G G7 C G

G G D D7

G G7 C G

Em D7 G G

These seventh chords tend to lead your ear to the next chord – G7 wants to go to C, and D7 wants to go to G. It’s a subtle but effective change. Can you hear the movement?

The E minor (the only minor chord in this arrangement) conveys a little bit of sadness in the “Was blind” part of the lyric.

If you like that and you want a little bit more, here’s a more detailed option.

G G7 C G

G Em D D7

G G7 C G

Em | Am D7 | G C | G

In those two “split measures”, where there are two chords sitting between the lines, you’ll play two beats of the first chord and one beat of the second chord.

  • Those are pretty fast chord changes, but they can really move the song along in an interesting way!
  • You can mix up a lot of these chords and come up with your own progression of Amazing Grace guitar chords in the key of G using different chord variations as you learn them.
  • These two alternatives contain common and easily-recognizable changes to the basic progression.

how-to-play-amazing-grace-on-guitar

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Picking Out the Melody

As much as these Amazing Grace guitar chords can shift around, the melody itself tends to stay the same wherever and whenever the song is being sung.

This makes it a great candidate for trying to learn by ear.

If you can hear a tune in your head and you have enough time, you can absolutely find the notes to the melody for “Amazing Grace.”

In the key of G, the melody for “Amazing Grace” uses the G major scale. That is no accident!

  • The whole point of being in a specific key is that it determines which scale you’ll use in playing the melody.
  • If you’d like to get started playing “Amazing Grace” by ear, start on a D. You can use the open D string. The next two notes are the open G and the open B strings.

Here is an easy-to-follow sequence for the G major scale to help you figure out where the other notes to the melody might be:

amazing-grace-chords

The bolded numbers are where the Gs are on the guitar. Remember, tablature has the strings upside down, so the bottom line is the low E.

If you would like some help reading tablature, we’ve got a great introduction for you here!

If learning the whole “Amazing Grace” melody by ear is not your bag right now, we won’t let that keep you from being able to play it.

Here is a wonderful version of the “Amazing Grace” melody written out in tablature with lyrics.

beginner-amazing-grace-chords

Pro-Tip: Whether you’re learning the melody to “Amazing Grace” by ear or through the assistance of tablature, you might as well get started practicing that G major scale sequence.

Scales will come in handy as you progress on your guitar journey, and they help us to hear better in the process.

Fingerstyle Arrangements for “Amazing Grace”

“Amazing Grace” is one of those songs whose power comes through whether it is being played by an army of guitars and sung by a massive choir, or fingerpicked and sung quietly by one person.

If you prefer the latter, here are some different options for you.

  • If you’ve never done any fingerpicking before, this is a great place to start!
  • As with learning melodies, the good places to start figuring things out are the ones with familiar melodies and chord progressions.

Here is a good introductory fingerpicking lesson:

Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons – 5 Easy Ways to Sound Amazing

easy-way-to-play-amazing-grace-on-guitar

This version of the song combines the melody and the chords in a claw-style fingerpicking arrangement. It’s fairly simple, so go slowly and you’ll hear the song come out!

This next version is in a different key, but it’s an interesting Mississippi John Hurt-style fingerpicking arrangement of Amazing Grace.

If you’re ready for something a bit more intricate, there is a pretty fingerstyle version of the song available here.

From these variants of Amazing Grace guitar chords (plus the unchanging melody), you’ll be able to come up with your own personalized version of this classic standard.

easy-way-to-play-amazing-grace

Working Up Your Arrangement of Amazing Grace Guitar Chords

The road from first learning a song to having mastered your own unique interpretation of it is not as long as it seems.

With the basic aspects of “Amazing Grace” presented in this lesson, you have a foundation to build from.

  • Mix up the chords and see what works!
  • Combine fingerstyle sections with strummed sections!
  • Alternate between playing the melody and playing the chords!
  • Enjoy the exploration and make it your own!

Recommended resources

Here’s some more National Guitar Academy lessons you may enjoy!

What Type of Guitarist Are You?

Take our 60-second quiz & get your results: Take The Quiz

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 100,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm

More Cool Guitar Stuff

Learn about the National Guitar Academy: About Us

Visit our YouTube channel for fun guitar videos.

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.

 
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Enter your email address to learn our best guitar tips and tricks today!