‘Mad World’ Easy Guitar Tutorial – Chords, Strumming and Melody

Hey everyone! In this lesson I’m going to show you how to play Mad World. It was originally written by ‘Tears For Fears’ and was later covered by Gary Jules (and used in the film Donnie Darko). We’ll be following the Gary Jules one, since it fits on an acoustic quite well, but this tutorial is still valid for the original and any other versions of the song you may come across.

If you’re just getting started you might need some extra help. I have 2 resources for that:


You’ll want to check out the GoodGuitarist Beginner Guitar Course! More information here: https://goodguitarist.com/beginner-guitar-course/

And there’s my eBook (which is free for all subscribers!) – You can use it to help you build a solid foundation: chords, switching, progressions, riffs, techniques… everything it takes to be a “good guitarist.” You can find it here: http://goodguitarist.com/learn-rhythm-guitar/

The lesson begins with the chord shapes: Em, G, D, A – that’s it for the whole song. I show you some tips and tricks that make the switching a LOT easier and then we put that to use as we work our way through the verse chords, in order, using downstrokes only.

Once we’re comfortable with the switching, we take a look at the strumming pattern. This song uses the MOST COMMON STRUMMING PATTERN EVER! I quickly break it down and teach you how to learn this pattern. If you need extra help with it, I go over it in my eBook and course.

Once you can play the chord shapes comfortably, and play the strumming pattern several times in a row without stopping, it means you’re ready to try playing the verse, a little slower than the actual recording.

Next we learn the Chorus, which is even easier than the verse. It’s just Em – A, 4x in a row.

Now for the fun part! I arranged the piano part into a simple chord melody that pretty much anyone can play with a little bit of practice. It’s too much to describe in words, but basically it’s just an Em chord, a simple melody and then the A chord, but it fits together nicely on acoustic.

I hope you enjoy the lesson! See you soon!

Mad World – Gary Jules Version



  1. Please I need the chord melodies of the entire song. Its driving me mad, I cant get it right. ty

  2. Hey man love your channel! I know i requested earlier too but could you make a video on paperhearts by the Vamps?? That'd be great. 😀

  3. Богдан Трохимець

    The first Down you play only the top strings, the rest of the struming pattern – both top and bottom strings, am I right?

  4. Cristina Veronica Santiago

    You deserve a subscriber…. And I helped u with that… You are so amazing James…. You inspire me to learn on my guitar…

  5. Could you do alrighty aphrodite by peach pit?

  6. Alexander Chernienko

    why you hide name of your guitar?

  7. Good lesson, thanks.

  8. you are the Best, tanks.

  9. Can we please get the tabs for the melody you used at the beginning

  10. INARI Animations

    nice video

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