Jingle Bells – Chords, Tabs and Sheet Music

jingle bells

Jingle Bells is a very well-known Christmas song and, of course, a big Christmas classic in the English-speaking world. But it has also gained popularity in many other countries in recent decades and became one of the most popular Christmas songs around the world. Let’s learn in this free guitar lesson at first some facts about the origin and history of Jingle Bells and then how to play it on the guitar. There are different ways to play this song but we want start with a very easy version that requires only one string of your guitar! But don’t worry, we will also show you how to play the song with some basic guitar chords and provide you some free PDF printables that you can use for your practicing or lessons!

History and Origin of Jingle Bells

The song originated in the United States in the 19th century. Although it is often associated with Christmas, it was not originally written as a Christmas carol.

It was composed by James Lord Pierpont and published in 1857 under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh”, and simply depicted a horse-drawn sleigh race by young people. The lyrics had nothing to do with Christmas. It was originally sung and played as a dance song at Thanksgiving and during the winter season. However, its catchy melody and lyrics about a joyful sleigh ride in the snow with jingling bells quickly made the song popular. Over time, Jingle Bells became associated with Christmas and was included in the repertoire of traditional Christmas carols. The song’s cheerful and infectious atmosphere was a perfect match for the festive spirit of the season.

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Tabs for Jingle Bells

You can play any song either by fingerpicking or by strumming. Some people find it easier to start with fingerpicking and some with strumming. We will start with a very easy fingerpicking version before we get to a more advanced one. But sure, you can jump to the chord version and start wit it.

1. Level: Playing only on One Guitar String

guitar playing on 1 string

For the first version we only need one string because we find all music notes on one string! This is a pretty good exercise for beginners since they need to focus only on picking one string and moving one finger of the left hand up and down on this string. At the same time we get more familiar with the notes of the string that we use. Push down the string with your index or middle finger of your left hand. Pluck the string with the thumb of your right hand.

How to read Guitar Tabs

Using horizontal lines as strings and numbers on those lines to represent the fret you should play, tablature gives us the guidance we need to start picking away at songs and their melodies. The strings are “upside-down”, meaning that the high sounding E is the highest line on your tablature. A zero (0) means you play the string open without any fingers on any frets. Learn more about reading guitar tabs!

Here are the tabs for Jingle Bells on one string:

Jingle Bells - Guitar Tabs One String

Below is a recording of how it should sound. You can play along and if it’s too fast, just slow it down.

You can actually play the same pattern on any other guitar string as well. Try for example the 6th string (low E string) to have a pretty low version of Jingle Bells.

2. Level: Playing on several Guitar Strings

guitar 3 strings

If you master playing the melody on one string, the next step is to play the song on several string of your guitar. This is actually much more common and efficient because in that way you don’t need to move your left hand too much along the neck of the guitar. Of course, you now have to use several fingers and pluck different strings, but this is an excellent exercise.

Here are the tabs for playing the nursery rhyme on the first three strings:

Jingle Bells - Guitar Tabs

Again, you can listen to the recording to check your playing and see how it should sound.

Chords for Jingle Bells

Playing a song with chords on the guitar is a also very common way. If you master some basic chords and a few basic strumming patterns it can also be easier than fingerpicking the melody. For Jingle Bells you need four guitar chords. We play this song in the key of C. You will need the chords C, F, G and D7, which are pretty commonly used in many songs and are usually among the first chords that any guitar beginner learns. Below you’ll find the corresponding guitar chord diagrams to play this song on the guitar.

C Chord Guitar
F Chord Guitar
G Chord Guitar
D7 Chord Guitar

If you already master the C, F, G and D7 chord and know how to change between them it will be no big deal for you to play the song! If you are still learning the basic chords and especially changing between them, then practice first these guitar chords individually and try to play the sequence C-F-G-D7 with simple down strums.

Beginners should always start playing a new song slowly until they get a feeling for the song. So, just do a simple down strum on every chord change is sufficient. It gives you enough time for changing between the new chords without worrying too much about a strumming pattern. Same applies when it comes to singing, it is much easier to sing along while playing if you just do one down strum on every chord change. Once you master it, you can apply a strumming pattern.

CDashing through the snow in a one-horse open Fsleigh,
o’er the fields we Ggo, laughing all the Cway.
Bells on bobtail ring, making spirits Fbright.
What fun it is to Gride and sing a sleighing song Ctonight.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!
GOh, what fun it Cis to ride in a D7one-horse open Gsleigh!
CJingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!
GOh, what fun it Cis to ride in Ga one-horse open Csleigh.
Make your Lessons more Fun!
Easy Chord Sheets designed for Kids
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coloring pages guitar chords
Make your Lessons more Fun!
Easy Chord Sheets designed for Kids
coloring pages guitar chords

Sheet Music for Jingle Bells

If you can read music, then playing from sheet music is perfect for you, whether it’s guitar, piano or recorder. Most of the time guitar teachers and advanced guitar players prefer sheet music. But it’s worth for beginners exploring the sheet music.

Jingle Bells - Guitar Sheet Music

Free PDF Printables for Jingle Bells

You can also download the guitar tabs, sheet music and chord version of Jingle Bells for free in order to use it for your guitar lessons!

Jingle Bells - Guitar Free PDF Download

Other Christmas Songs for Guitar