Power Chords for Beginners

 

Power chord video lesson  

Heya! This lesson will get you playing rock/metal power chords in less than twenty minutes! On top of that, it will give you the easiest and most effective tool to start writing riffs that belong to as specific key.

Think about it, once you know which key the riff you play belongs to, you will know:

                • what scale to play
                • how to communicate your musical ideas to other musicians
                • how to transpose (change key of) your riffs

So...

 

     What is a power chord?

 

  • Power chord guitarist
    Power chords are common in heavy music, as well as many other musical styles .
    The power chord is also called 5 chord (E5, A5 etc) or slash chord .
  • Theoretically it's a major OR minor chord, where we have removed a note - the so called "3rd" (don't worry if you don't understand this).
  • Probably the most common type of chord in rock/metal music
  • Probably the easiest type of chord

...and why not the coolest type of chord - so many great riffs have been written with them.

     What is not a power chord?


Power chord?

If you believe this is a power chord you have got it all wrong! This one is spelled "cord".

 

It is neither a simplified way of playing barre chords, intended only for beginners. On the contrary, power chords are used in extremely complex music ( Ie progressive bands like Dream Theater).

So this leads us to the question...

     How to play a power chord?

 

Let's try a G power chord - G5:

e|-----|
b|-----|
g|-----|
d|-----|
a|-5---|
e|-3---|
Use your index- and ring finger, or index and little finger.

 

If you move it up two frets, it becomes an A power chord - A5.

e|-----|
b|-----|
g|-----|
d|-----|
a|-7---|
e|-5---|
 


If you follow this note chart - showing all the notes on the low (= thick) e-string - you will be able to play all the power chords that exist! Just move the power chord shape up and down, just like we did when we transposed a G5 to an A5 (G is on the third fret and A is on the fifth).

note diagram power chords

 

Play a G power chord and notice that G is on the third fret (in red), now do the same for A - do you start seeing a pattern?

 

     Play power chords in a key!

 

The following diagram shows all the notes of an E minor scale on the E an A strings (the two thickest strings). It also shows the power chords we can extract from the scale.

E minor power chords

Now here's what's interesting: any configuration of notes you can come up with using this diagram, will be in the key of E minor. In other words, you will know exactly which scale to use when creating a solo. In this key, the E minor scale (also called E aeolian) will suit perfectly:

 

E minor/aeolian scale

So try to come up with a riff using these power chord shapes (or by combining power chords and individual notes from the scale - I made this lesson's backing tracks by doing just that!).

This lesson's power chord video illustrates the different rhythm variations you can do to make the power chords come alive, as well as the fingering and example riffs.

Good luck,

 

Power Chords Backing Track (90 bpm)
   
Power Chords Backing slow
   
Tab Power chords TAB

     Lesson Questions, Feedback & Comments





Bastardo Anonimo
post 7th January 2007


Member


Power Chords rule!
Kristofer Dahl
post 7th January 2007


Member


They sure do! biggrin.gif
beebo
post 4th February 2007


Member


sweetness
lol
Ibanez
post 17th February 2007


Member


Power-Chords use only the 1st and 5th, so they are not minor or major, because the min/maj 3rd is missing. My question is: "Can" you use Power-Chords to back up a song in any key?
Kristofer Dahl
post 17th February 2007


Member


amirandtaimur: Absolutely - in fact it can be easier since you don't have to take major/minor tonality into consideration!
lightner75
post 19th March 2007


Member


I'm a new member and have only been playing for a couple of weeks now. This was the first lesson i attempted on gmc. It took me about an hour to play it still not great,but with a little more work i should have it.The power chords sound really cool.Can't wait and hope i can play like Kristofer
Kristofer Dahl
post 20th March 2007


Member


lightner75: Great to hear! biggrin.gif
Bitey
post 26th March 2007


Member


Ah power chords, you can never get enough of them. biggrin.gif

Thank you kris for finally showing me what palm muting was.
zyph
post 14th April 2007


Member


heh just discovered that if you add the Bb powerchord u can play the theme of Smoke Under Water .. lovely old easy-to-learn track ;D
zyph
post 14th April 2007


Member


E - G - A -- E - G - Bb - A

to play it, enjoy
J.E.
post 14th April 2007


Member


im not in to metal but this was great for my motivation it was easy and fun with power chords thanks kris for this wounderfull lesson:)
rmp4
post 15th April 2007


Member


Great lesson! I joined a few weeks ago and i havent had much time to get into the lessons yet but i am devoting more time for myself now. Look forward to seeing more lesssons for beginners like myself that will keep me motivated to keep learning.
PS - i think this is the way the riff goes zyph
E - G - A -- E - G - Bb/A then -- E - G - A - G - E
zyph
post 15th April 2007


Member


yeah smile.gif your right buddy, forgot to put the last part in smile.gif thx for adding it
darkxer878
post 18th April 2007


Member


This lesson is way easier than it looks. Dahl is an excellent teacher.
smile.gif
jamin4lyfe
post 25th April 2007


Member


new to GMC and enjoying it so far, I knew what power chords are but this didnt hurt to watch now that i know what palm muting is and how to do it smile.gif thanks Kristofer
Anomaly
post 29th April 2007


Member


Hi!
I'm new and when I move my two fingers away from the frets it makes this noise (like bad tapping) and the sound stops ringing. Pretty bad.
And this usually doesn't happend when I change positions for the first time when I'm moving away just my index finger. I'm not sure what I do differently there and what to do to stop this. Any suggestions?
J.E.
post 10th May 2007


Member


man this lesson is so great i thought ok now i know this very well lets crank it up a bit and now when they backing track strums 1 time i strum 3 times when it strums 3 times i do the palm muting and when it does the palm muting i do the single strum haha awesome!
Wyvernx
post 23rd May 2007


Member


Man, the video doesn't work for me, it shows it fully loaded, but it only shows four seconds of the actual video.
Nuno M
post 19th June 2007


Member


Hello everyone, this was my first lesson and I think i will enjoy being here with all you people.See you around
jammer91
post 5th July 2007


Member


To me power chords are the greatest guitar technique .
Nice job covering it Kris...
wolfsoul13
post 6th August 2007


Member


Great lesson!
Alice
post 24th August 2007


Member


I've been a member here for about a month now, and this is one of my favorite lessons, but I have a question that's been eating away at me.
Are the powerchords exclusively played on the low E-string, and A-string, or can you move the shape around on the fretboard and the other strings, and still call it a powerchord? I.e:

e|-----|
b|-----|
g|-----|
d|-5---|
a|-3---|
e|-----|
?
It'd be great if someone could clear this up for me!
lcguinea
post 9th September 2007


Member


Hi, I'm new here and Power Chords was my first lesson. Power Chords seem to be very simple but really are great!! I really like a lot about their sound.
besip
post 16th September 2007


Member


ho cool first time after 1 month when im start to play quitar im glad to play something.so chris what is the realy recomendet with the fingers play 1-4 or 1-2 nad if im all ready understat hope the diagram so the folowing power chords what we not talk about is C-5 and D-5? but again my first no borring stuff
Mrblomme
post 16th September 2007


Member


My first lesson and very good.

Thx
HÃ¥kon
post 6th October 2007


Member


Hello everyone!
I'm new here, and just taken up my new guitar!
I desided first to be formyself, and learn by myself.
But then I saw this site, and desided to improve my playing here
This really looks cool, but the problem is that it doesn't sound as good on a normal guitar sad.gif
And that palm muting is muting my guitar 100% so I only a terrible voice comming from the guitar
Is that normal, or will it be gone with some practiceing? smile.gif
Cheers
aerojohn
post 10th October 2007


Member


dont woryy hakon me too having same difficulties..
i have been here for one week stillnot able to play the chords properly .. hope it will turn out to be better
shammy
post 23rd October 2007


Member


Hello Alice, Yes you can move shapes around neck to other strings and they will still be powerchords. It's not the strings so much that make the powerchord but the notes on the strings. Hope this helps you a little
shammy
post 23rd October 2007


Member


Muting definately takes practice and getting used too. Keep at it, no matter how bad it sounds and one day you will feel it and be a muting beast.
Bluesfeeling
post 30th October 2007


Member


Hi. I`m new here. But I`m playing since 5 Years. I already heared about PowerChords but ive never played it. Nice to know this. A little Bit trying and its good. But what really fascinating me is thats really funny to learn with Videos! Maybe the teachers are going on Facts with Fun? wink.gif Im anxious to know what comes more. THX
Francisca
post 14th November 2007


Member


Just started this week with the powerchords beginners lessons and am having a great time. The only thing I wished was that the video was set in parts so you can find the proper excercise more easily rather than having to drag the movie indicator and guess...
Mojoe
post 27th February 2008


Member


I love it its simple to play and souns great at first i had problems at first because i couldt heare anything but then it started to sound great adnd now im a real pro wink.gif
Carlos Carrillo
post 5th March 2008


Member


hey kris!!!!!!

great lesson!!!very creative!!!!

thanks
kristici
post 9th April 2008


Member


ok tutto chiaro
montecristo
post 29th May 2008


Member


I don't know if this is the right place to ask this, but here it goes:
1) Can the E minor scale (E aeolian) be played anywhere on the fretboard as long as the key of the tune is Em?
2) If this is the case, it is different than the pentatonic scale in the sense that we must start on the root note...
Thanks for any input!
Guitar1969
post 9th July 2008


Member


E minor scale is different than the Pentatonic Minor in that it has 2 additional notes(Pentatonic only has 5, but repreat). Its the notes that make up the scale, not where you start the scales - The scale is based upon root note, but you don't have to start or stop on the root. Em scale can be used over various keys backing - such as Em song or E maj key song just to name a few
Psihakias
post 7th September 2008


Member


its so easy, and sounds so great! thnx
Defaultti
post 26th November 2008


Member


Oh god, this lesson is so cool!

VERY EASY, but still sounds so awesome!

Thanks Kris, very nice job!
sdicker2
post 13th January 2009


Member


this helped me out a lot I mean Im not a complete beginner and I mastered this in about 7 minutes but I had a little trouble with my palm muting and the power chord part was fun.
thanks
enragedlemur
post 26th January 2009


Member


OMG!! I put the backing track looked at the scale and just improvised a great riff/solo! I've been teaching myself for about 3 months but this is the best thing i've ever done i'm so proud! thanks for putting this lesson on!
GuitarMonkey
post 22nd March 2009


Member


Very cool lesson. Actually one of my fav's on here.
Flamo
post 8th May 2009


Member


Check out Hammerfall - Stronger Than All.
Almost the whole song is made of Power-chord biggrin.gif


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