This power chord guide will help you understand, play and have fun with maybe the most useful and essential chords you need to know when learning the guitar. Download the power chord pdf guide with charts and diagrams to learn more about the shapes, the fingering, and the positions on the neck. Practice them with the tabs of hit songs using powers chords like “Smells Like Teen Spirits” and “Eye of the Tiger”.
A lot of famous songwriters, especially guitarists, have used this type of chords in many of their songs. They are quite easy to play after a little practice. That’s why it’s essential to learn how to play them. Don’t forget that you can also have a lot of fun playing them.
1. What is a power chord?
The word “power” can symbolize many things: the fact that with a few notes you can get a powerful, direct, and efficient sound.
You can play these chords on any guitar and in any style of music. Even if it is true that they are often found in metal or rock. And they are more difficult to make sound good on an acoustic or classical guitar.
These chords are composed of 2 different notes but guitarists play them most of the time on 3 strings. They play the root note, the fifth, and the root note again but one octave higher.
The root note gives the name of the power chord. To create a power chord you need to play the root note, the fifth, and the root note one octave higher.
Let’s take an example with the C note, we get C + G + C (The second C is one octave higher).
Power chords Vs major and minor chords
Power chords are neither major nor minor because they don’t have a minor or a major third.
For example, the notes of a C major are C E G.
The interval between the notes is more important in power chords, and the fact that the root note is played again gives power and simplifies the harmony of the chord.
How to notate them?
You take the name of the root and you add the number 5 next to it, it’s pretty easy.
The number 5 refers to the 5th note we add to the root.
Playing power chords is not cheating or bad as you can sometimes hear or read in some forums. It’s a good basis for learning major and minor bar chords on the guitar.
In Guitar Pro, you can quickly edit and add chords to your compositions thanks to the Chord Library. Click on the tab then press the A key on your computer keyboard to open it. Then choose the tonality and the type and press OK, your chord has been added to the score.
2. What are the power chord shapes?
The power chords can be played in one shape that you can move along the neck.
You can place it on the 3 lowest strings and on the A, D, and G strings. The X symbol means that the string should not be played.
It can be played with 2 different fingerings. With 2 or 3 fingers. You can only place 2 fingers but you will have to extend the index and ring fingers to make 2 bars.
I recommend you to learn the names of the notes on your neck on the 2 lower strings of your guitar. It’s not that hard and it’s pretty useful: you’ll know how to locate at least 24 chords thanks to this little trick.
Please note that the frets without numbers are for the sharps and the flats. For example, on fret 2 of the low E string, you get F#5 or Gb5.
Here are the power chords keys with the root note on the low E string
The notes of this chord are:
E – B – E
This chord is one of the easiest power chords to play. You can play it with only one finger, put your finger on the second fret. Do not play the bottom 3 strings.
The F5 notes are:
F – C – F.
This chord can be used as an alternative to the F major chord when you are a beginner and find it difficult to sound the 6 strings of F. It is often considered the most difficult chord to play because of its location. It is very close to the head of the neck. Indeed it is difficult to press the frets well.
F5 is the first chord of the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, so learn it to rock!
The notes of G5 are:
G – D – G.
The notes of A5 are:
A – E – A
The notes of G5 are:
B – F# – B
The C5 notes are:
C – G – C
The notes of this chord are:
D – A – D.
The notes are E – B – E
Here is the full list on the E-low string
Here are the power chords with the root note on the low A string:
As you can see, you can play one chord at different places.
For example, you can play the E5 chord at 3 different places on your neck:
How to choose the right one? There’s not a wrong one. Everything depends on the chords you have to play before and after, it depends on the chord progression.
3. How do I play a power chord?
The position of the wrist is really important. The pressure you apply on your fingers too. These chords may hurt a little at first, especially if you press too hard on your strings and place your wrist incorrectly. A good position of the left hand is fundamental.
Leave the index of the right hand in contact with the 3 bottom strings.
Press only on the tip of your index finger, it is not necessary to press with your index finger on the 5 or 6 strings of your guitar. The strings marked with an X on the diagrams will not be played, so there is no need to press your finger. Save your strength and endurance.
How do I know if my power chord is bad?
It could be when you don’t press enough on your strings with your left hand on the neck, and when you don’t make your 3 strings ring.
And how to make them sound good?
Practice makes perfect, try to find the right balance in the amount of pressure you put on the handle.
4. How to practice power chords?
The best way to stay motivated to learn these chords is to play well-known songs that use these chords. This will give you a clear goal and vision of what you want to achieve. And above all, you will have an idea of how these chords should sound.
Here are several power chord songs that are quite easy to play:
The song “Eye Of The Tiger” is perhaps one of the easiest to play when you start playing your first power chords.
Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor – Intro
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana – Intro
Practice them using the Guitar Pro 7.5 software to learn at your pace. Slow down the tempo and progressively increase the tempo.
If you want to learn the whole song, discover the subscription to mySongBook, the official Guitar Pro score library. Click here to learn more about it.
Keep your left-hand fingers on the strings when you move from one position to another. Release the pressure between 2 chords.
Another powerful practice tool is the Play Guitar Hits app.
Thomas has been teaching the guitar for 10 years, he is in now in charge of communication at Arobas Music. Sharing his passion for music is his full-time job.