In this article, we’ll walk you through the chords and techniques you’ll need to learn to play “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. While this song is great for intermediate level guitarists to learn, “Perfect” can be a fun challenge for beginner guitarists to try, too.
To get some additional pointers on how to play Ed Sheeran’s beloved ballad, check Fender Play LIVE host Eugene Edwards and special guest Brian Whealan break down the chords and fingerpicking involved in playing “Perfect.” You’ll also pick up tips for playing a few other songs that make use of these techniques. To take a deeper dive and master the guitar chords and skills to play Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” and more songs, sign up for a free trial of Fender Play today.
How to Learn “Perfect” on Guitar: Chords You’ll Need to Know
To learn to play Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” here are a few chords you need to learn, which are played with a capo on the first fret:
As you can see by the chord diagrams above, the versions of each of these chords used to play Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” make use of almost all six strings and are slightly more advanced versions of the chords. By first practicing each of these chords and committing them to memory, you can more easily transition between them and focus on the strum patterns and techniques involved in playing the song.
“Perfect” By Ed Sheeran: Strumming Patterns
Once you’ve got a good handle on the five guitar chords that make up “Perfect,” it’s time to move on to mastering the different strum patterns that give the song its flavor.
There are two different strumming patterns that can be heard in Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”: eighth note strumming and accented strumming.
The verse and chorus of “Perfect” uses the five previously mentioned chords played in a 12:8 time signature. Simply count to 12 as you evenly strum each chord. You’ll be playing the chords in an eighth note strumming pattern, with each chord held for one-eighth of a whole note and played in a downward motion.
These eighth note strum chords are played with an accented strum pattern. An accented strum is when you play a particular strum louder than the rest in a chord series. On Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” you’ll play each chord on the verse with a downward stroke of your picking hand, accenting the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th stroke and making those strokes louder than the others.
You’ll use this same accented strumming pattern on the chorus, although the chords will appear in a slightly different order.
Don’t miss out!
Be the first to know about new products, featured content, exclusive offers and giveaways.
“Perfect” By Ed Sheeran: Tabs
While listening for chord changes and accents in a strum pattern can be helpful when learning to play a song like Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” some guitarists prefer using guitar tablature to learn a song. Once you know how to read guitar tabs, you can use it as a visual shorthand to pick up on the smaller details for learning a song -- such as where a chord change may occur and when a strum pattern ends.
Even if you’re not familiar with reading tablature, you can easily learn how and use it to give yourself more options for learning songs you love to play. Check out the guitar tabs for the verse and chorus to “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran to get a visual feel for the different chord changes and where each section repeats:
Put It All Together: Perfect By Ed Sheeran Guitar Tutorial
Taking a song and learning to play it section by section is a great way to commit it to memory. But one of the most rewarding parts is putting it all together. Once you have the essential chords and strumming patterns down, try practicing Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” along with Fender instructor, Jenson Trani. You’ll hear how the song flows from verse to chorus and back again, as well as hear cues for which chords to accent.
Learn to Play Ed Sheeran’s Biggest Hits on Fender Play Guitar Lessons
Once you’ve perfected “Perfect,” try learning more of Ed Sheeran’s songs on guitar. Fender Play can show you how to play “Give Me Love,” “The A-Team,” and “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. A free trial of Fender Play can unlock these song lessons plus many more from your favorite artists, along with the chords and techniques you’ll need to improve your guitar playing.
About the Song
With its simple, sparse acoustic guitar chords and earnest lyrics, Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” is (quite literally) the perfect song to express your feelings for someone -- and it’s also relatively easy to learn to play on guitar.
Since the release of his first album in 2011, Ed Sheeran has been recognized for his expressive tenor vocals and ability to write some of the most memorable ballads of the past decade. (Not to mention his fiery red hair.) Born in England, Sheeran started playing guitar at a young age and first gained prominence on YouTube before signing a recording deal.
“Perfect” by Ed Sheeran is one of his most popular songs. This sentimental ballad was written for his then-fiance, now-wife, Cherry Seaborn. The song hit #1 in both the UK and US, as well as Canada, Ireland, and 18 other countries. Spurred by the hit status of the original version of “Perfect” from his 2017 album ÷ (read as “Divide”), Sheeran re-worked “Perfect” as a duet with Beyonce, and later as a duet with opera legend, Andrea Bocelli.