What are power chords?
Power chords are a staple in rock, metal, punk, and other forms of music. The first power chord was theorized by George Beauchamp on June 4, 1954. Power chords are typically composed of two notes that are five steps apart from each other (example: E-A) but there are variations of the chord that fans call "extended" which consist of more than 2 notes.
Artists such as Jimi Hendrix helped to further develop the use of power chords for deep, heavy riffs. They are typically played with distortion to achieve their unique sound. When power chords are played on an electric guitar, you can hear both notes ringing out clearly without any other overtones or harmonic nonsense.
Why are they important? Power chords are important because they are simple and easy-to-play chords for beginners. They are perfect for players who are only starting the electric guitar but want to play powerful songs that rock hard!
Power chords also have a nice neon sign that says "HEY LOOK AT ME I'M PLAYING ROCK AND ROLL" which attracts lots of fans who cheer them on. All of these reasons make learning how to play power chords first in your guitarist career very useful!
Power Chords vs Barre Chords
Barre chords can be played with only one finger because they require open strings to play some or all of their notes whereas power chords can't except for one involving the b5 note (which has to use the open string). Barre chords are more complex than power chords so beginners should learn them later instead of first.
The difference between them is that barre chords can be moved up and down the neck (they're movable).
How to play a power chord on guitar?
There are only two variations of the power chord that musicians need to know: E5 and A5. The way you position your fingers will depend on where the root note falls in your progression.
If your song is in E, then play an E5 by placing 1 finger across all 6 strings at fret 3 with a slightly loose grip, then place your pinky on fret 5 of the same string. It can be hard for beginner right-handed players to barre their index finger across all six strings but it's okay! Power chords are meant to be simple, not complete chords.
If your song is in A, then play an A5 by placing 1 finger across all 6 strings at fret 3 with a slightly loose grip, then place your index finger on the next higher string's fret (fret 4). Once again, it can be hard for beginner right-handed players to barre their index finger across all six strings but it's okay! Power chords are meant to be simple, not complete chords.
The root note is marked in red. An X means don't play that string and O means play that string open. The number refers to which fret you should place your fingers. If you want more in-depth information about how the E5 and A5 power chords are formed, look at the picture below.
E5 placing 1 finger across all 6 strings at fret 3 with a slightly loose grip, then place your pinky on fret 5 of the same string. A5 placing 1 finger across all 6 strings at fret 3 with a slightly tight grip, then place your index finger on the next higher string's fret (fret 4).
Note: To play an A5 power chord you can skip step 2 and just barre all six strings at fret 3 with your index finger because it forms an E5 anyway. It'll be easier to hold down that way but playing 2 steps together will result in poor sound quality since both notes will ring out instead of one-note ringing clearly.
How to build power chords on the whole fretboard?
You can create power chords on the entire fretboard by using this formula:
Root note - 5th interval - X - O You don't even have to know the names of notes yet! For example, if you want to play at fret 4, you'd take root note E and count up five frets (whole steps) then put an X where the root note would be. The A5 chord is made up of that same formula but with a different root note.
This method works for G5 too because G is only one-half step above E. To make it easier to remember, think "greatest hits" since G5 = greatest hits of E5.
The difficulty in playing power chords on the whole fretboard is that you have to be a little more accurate with your barre chords because you're not playing inside a nice box but rather across the length of the fretboard. If you find it difficult, just stick with power chords in one octave for now then gradually spread your wings as you get better.
Chart of power chords for beginners
- E5 chord
This power chord is quite easy for beginners to repeat because the pinky and ring fingers are not placed on adjacent strings. Notes: E - B - G
This chord is quite difficult for beginner left-handed players because your fingers are all cramped up at the bridge/first fret area. You can make it easier by playing it like an open A major chord (just strum strings 1, 2, and 3). Try using your little finger to barre strings 4, 5, and 6 to make this chord sound richer).
- A5 chord
This power chord is quite easy for beginners to repeat because the index finger and middle finger are not placed on adjacent strings. Notes: A - D - E. There is also an A#5 chord but it's not very common. If you want to challenge yourself, try playing it like an open A major chord (strum strings 1, 2, and 3).
- D5 chord
This power chord is quite easy for beginners to repeat because the index finger is not placed on adjacent strings. Notes: D - G - B
D#5 will be for you if you want to challenge yourself. It's not played too often but it's still fun to play once in a while. To make this chord easier, play it like an open D major chord (strum strings 1, 2, and 3). Place your index finger on the next higher string's fret (fret 4) then barre all six strings with your ring finger. Try using your pinky or middle finger to mute the unplayed strings on either side of the neck if you don't like hearing dead notes ringing out!
- G5 chord
You are almost there! G5 is quite easy for beginners to repeat because the middle finger is not placed on adjacent strings. Notes: G - B - D
This chord is also played with an open G major chord way too often, so try playing it like an open A major chord (strings 1, 2, and 3). Place your index finger on the next higher string's fret (fret 4) then barre all six strings with your ring finger. Try using your pinky or middle finger to mute the unplayed strings on either side of the neck if you don't like hearing dead notes ringing out! G#5 is pretty rare.
- C5 chord
This power chord is quite easy for beginners to repeat because the middle and ring fingers are not placed on adjacent strings. Notes: C - E - G. Of course, it also has C#5 and D5 but they are not common chords. the process is the same as on previous chords/
This power chord is quite easy for beginners to repeat because the pinky is not placed on adjacent strings. Notes: F - A - C
Play Rock and Metal
With these power chords, you can play a large variety of rock and metal songs!
Though many musicians tell that these are not real chords, still they are used as such to play a massive number of famous songs. So you would like you to use these chords as the basic power chords and try to find out what kind of chord is played in those songs. That way you can learn many interesting things about playing guitar.
For example, a famous and really talented Metallica band uses these chords a lot, so you can learn their style of playing just by trying to find out the power chord version of what they play. And then copy it!
What are power chord progressions?
A progression is a series of chords played one after another in a specific order to create a musical piece! Power chord progressions are simply several power chords played in a row, as we've just shown you.
You can use whatever strumming pattern you like for this type of song as well as its tempo and rhythm. Its simplicity makes it perfect for beginners who want to play really easy songs or those that do not know what else to play!
Power chord charts usually show how much space should be used on the fretboard so you don't have to squeeze your fingers together or spread them out uncomfortably! You can move chord patterns around all over the neck, though. So feel free to play the chords wherever you like!
However, it is important to know that starting with a power chord shape on fret 1 will be easier than starting it on one of the higher frets. For example, when playing an E5 chord at the third fret, your ring finger should stretch out beyond where it's supposed to go in order to reach all six strings! Your pinky should also press down on the next highest string's fret in order for the chord not to sound too loose or muffled.
This might seem complicated but after you've done it a few times and practiced your barre technique (which is essentially pressing down on multiple strings using one finger) you won't have any problems doing so again.
Where can you play power chords?
Power chord charts can be used in most modern genres of music. Power chord progressions are the most common type we hear in rock and metal songs, though they're also found frequently in pop and punk songs.
You can also follow your favorite guitar player's power chord riffs to discover new ways to play! Learning how to use these chords will allow you to easily play along with some of your favorite artists' songs. Some popular brands that use power chords a lot include AC/DC, Metallica, The Beach Boys, Mötley Crüe, Nirvana and many more!
How can you practice power chords?
Power chord charts work well in many different types of music. If you're feeling stuck in a rut, try practicing some power chords today!
Start by playing each chord for about 30 seconds before moving on to the next one. You can also divide your practice session in half and only spend 15 minutes on every other day working on these chords so you don't get too bored and discouraged and quit practicing altogether.
Remember that it takes time to build up callouses on your fingertips when learning how to play! You might find yourself getting tired much sooner than usual when starting out with these chords, especially if you're just beginning guitar lessons. Make sure to change up what you're practicing after playing power chord progressions for a while so your muscles don't get too accustomed to the same thing.
It doesn't matter if you have a good amount of experience with playing the guitar or are just getting started, these chords are great for everyone! Just aim to become more familiar with your instrument by learning new skills that will help you excel as a musician. Have fun trying out power chord charts today!
Should you try these chords if you play jazz or romances?
As we said above, you can play power chord charts in any genre of music! This includes jazz and other genres that often use more complex chords.
However, there are some important things to keep in mind when playing this type of music. First of all, the first and sixth strings will be muted throughout your entire piece, so make sure you know which notes those strings contain before tackling a song composed with this technique.
Also, remember to practice your scales as well as any arpeggios or broken chords (chords played one note at a time) that might occur during a piece using these more complicated chord types. Power chord progressions work great for beginners but you should try to expand your knowledge of different styles if you plan on playing jazz or romance music with them.