Power Chord Technique Lesson | Hub Guitar

Power Chord Technique Lesson

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Developing the technique required to play the power chord is a pivotal step that marks the movement away from the beginning levels and into the intermediate ones.

The power chord is the first moveable chord shape most beginners learn. It's a chord shape that can be played on the sixth string or fifth string, and on any fret. That means when you learn one power chord, you learn two dozen of them.

Let's start with a power chord on the 6th fret. Use your first finger to play the root note, A in the case of my demonstration. Use your third and fourth fingers to play the other notes. And be sure to mute the rest of the strings with your first finger.

Now let's move it to the 5th string. We're going to use the same shape, but now we have to mute the sixth string as well. We can do that with the tip of our index finger like this.

So these are the two patterns. Now you can move them up and down and come up with your own progressions. I'm just going to move them around a bit randomly and see if I can come up with something interesting.

I'm hoping if you play these for a few minutes you'll feel a bit of tiredness in your fret hand wrist. That's good. We want to build up the strength and endurance in the fret hand, because that's what will enable us to play barre chords later on.


Most styles of guitar music will have an occasional power chord, but they’re probably heard most often in rock. Power chords boil down to basically the two chord shapes seen below. The root of the chord is the lowest note, either the 6th or 5th string.

These power chords will challenge your fret hand wrist strength, which helps to prepare you to play barre chords. To really master them, try playing as many chord progressions as you can with them. You can play almost any song using only power chords. Just replace all of the chords to power chords of the same name. It works most of the time, and it’s that simple.

Note that when you’re first starting out with power chords, you might find the full chord form difficult. For both power chord shapes, you can omit the highest note and play an even easier version of the same chord. Since that high note is an octaveAn interval of twelve semitones. Octaves are very important in music theory. from the root, the chord will not be changed.

Example conversion:

Diatonic (4-Part) Chords

Gmaj7 Emin9 Amin7 D7

Power Chord Substitutes

G5, E5, A5, D5

A few chord progressions to try:

A5 D5 G5 C5
G5 B5 C5 A♭5
B5 G5 A5 D5
C5 A5 D5 G5

Muting

The notes not in the chord (marked by the letter X) must not be played, or the chord will be wrong Normally these notes are muted by the fretting hand.

Tips

  • If you’re having trouble playing power chords, try bringing your guitar to a repair shop an asking for the “lowest-action” set-up possible.
  • It’s also a good idea to use the lightest possible strings at first. For acoustic guitar, ask the guitar shop for some “.01’s”. If you play electric, ask for “.00’s” or even “.00’s”.
  • If you’re still having trouble, consider using either a finger-training tool, available at many music shops and online, or a grip training tool such as Captains of Crush, available from body-building websites.

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Key Tasks

  • Practice the power chords daily until your wrist strength improves to the point where you can play them cleanly.
  • Once the chords are clean, work on your endurance. Strum chord progressions of power chords continuously for several minutes at a time until your hands get tired.
  • Try improvising by inventing your own power chord progressions. Just shift the patterns around, making it up as you go along. This is how rock music was invented!

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