How to Play Power Chords | Hub Guitar

How to Play Power Chords

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In my own teaching I think of power chords as a barrier between the beginning and intermediate levels. Once students can play their basic open chords and power chords, they've started to get the strength needed at their left hand to play barre chords, and mastering barre chords is really the turning point that leads to the more advanced levels.

All of the power chords we'll do are going to be the same shape. So this lesson is about getting that shape down and learning how to move it around to make power chords.

We're going to do three power chords:A5, D5 and E5. So power chord is just notated with the number 5. Ok, so the A5 is going to start with the first finger on the fifth fret of the sixth string, like that. And then, you're gonna put the third and fourth fingers on the seventh fret of the fifth and fourth strings, and you want to try to use your index finger to mute the remaining strings, you don't want them to ring. You can use your index finger, or really any of these fingers, just make sure that you can only hear these three strings. this is an A5, the root is on the sixth strings, this is an A. We want to turn it into a D5, which'll shuffle the whole pattern down a little bit. So we've got D here and then these are the other two notes in the chord, again, we are muting this two, but now we've got to mute this six too, because that string is no longer needed, you can do this with the tips of your index finger there, because I'm muting them, it doesn't sound terrible, if I don't mute them, sounds pretty bad no matter who plays it. So try to mute those strings. and then the E5, we're gonna go up two frets, so it's seven, nine and nine.

Once you've got these shapes under your fingers, you can move them all around. You can make up your own riffs pretty easily. That's how rock and roll got started.

Because these chords have a bit of a hollow sound, you can play almost any sequence of power chords and it will sound somewhat coherent. I just basically showed some randomly chords, it sounds kind of believable, because this is no much content in those chords, so it sounds very good no matter what you do with them.

So learn these patterns, get them under your fingers, and you're well on your way to the next level of guitar.


Often used in Rock, power chords are strong, and hold up under heavy distortion. Because distortion makes it harder to hear different notes played together, complex chords will not sound as clear. Much of heavy rock uses power chords.

The chord symbol for an A power chord is A5. This means that the chord consists of a root and the note five steps above the root. (These steps would come from the major scale of the root.)

Below is a common power chord progression. Practice it slowly, taking care to muteA mute is a technique prevents unwanted strings from ringing. In this context, it is normally done with the left (or chord-playing) hand. all of the strings that are not played. The first finger will rest on the top strings, preventing them from ringing. It will also mute the low E string for the second two chords by gently touching the side of the string.

Power chords are often played with all downstrokes, and often used with palm mutingPalm muting is another muting technique, but this one is done with the picking hand. Its purpose is not so much to prevent the strings from ringing as it is to change their sound.. This further eliminates unwanted noise from unfretted strings.

Power chords can be played in place of any major or minor chord, because they don’t have the note that defines whether the chord will be major and minor. They are like a hollow shell. The chord progression below can serve as a backing track for an Amaj or an Amin chord progression.

A5

A<sup>5</sup> chord diagram

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D5

D<sup>5</sup> chord diagram

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E5

E<sup>5</sup> chord diagram

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Key Tasks

  1. Play these chords until you can make the notes ring cleanly.
  2. If you are having trouble, it’s a good idea to have your guitar set up to make sure it’s easy to play.
  3. See if you can figure out how to use these chords to substitute for the chords in the progression: C, Amin, D7, G7.

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