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Power Chords (Part 1)

The lessons on Chords

If you wanna rock, this is the first step!

The follow text is the same as the Beginners Course module, but I have repeated it here for those not doing the course!

"Power Chords" are used in most styles of music but are particularly useful for rock guitar, but even sound cool on acoustic (check Nirvana's Unplugged album for an awesome example). The basic idea is that you will learn one shape and that one shape can move along the fingerboard and make other chords. It uses no open strings, and muting the open strings is a very important part of the technique.


Lets start by playing them and do the theory later

Power Chord..........>Power Chord

Use only your 1st, 3rd an 4th fingers as shown, and start by putting your 1st finger in the 3rd fret of the 6th string (the note G). Then put down your 3rd and 4th fingers, if this is a bit of stretch don't worry, you will soon limber up! Try to keep them together, the 3rd finger kinda on top of the 4th as shown below.


Muting the unused strings

Power Chord mute

Try to get your 1st finger to lay softly on strings 3, 2 and 1. You don't want those notes to sound, you just want to mute the strings. This is very important, they will sound really bad if you let them ring out.

You can't just be careful and play the 3 strings that have the fingers on them but that is very hard and means that you will never be able to rock out and hit the strings with any energy, or run around on stage like a rock god :-).

Note that strings 1,2 and 3 are not being pressed down, just lightly touched to stop them from ringing out


Take a listen

It should sound like this when you play all the strings, from fattest to thinnest (6th to 1st).

Powerchord6 by justinguitar


Root Notes

Guitar Neck Notes

Each chord has a "Root Note" - shown with a R, which gives the chord it's name.

Once you have that down we need to move it around. Have a look at these notes on the 6th (thickest) string (just ignore the 5th string notes for now).

The example we just played was a G Power Chord (Also called G5) because the root note under the first finger was the note G. If we move the shape up the neck we can play other chords, for instance, if you move it up two frets you get the chord A because that is the note under the first finger R!

This root note concept applies to many things on guitar - well actually pretty much everything that does not use open strings!

All scales and chords that don't use open strings can just be moved up and down the neck and as long as you know which note is the root note you will be able to find the chord!

It is a big concept that will help you advance on the guitar so take time to remember where all the notes are!


The Notes Inbetween

If you don't know what note is between F and G (the answer is F# or Gb) then please go now and check out my lesson TB-006 • The Note Circle which will explain it. It is from my book Practical Music Theory which can be bought from this site! You know I don't try and sell you stuff all the time, but it a really good way to get your basic music theory down, which makes many things a whole lot easier!





Video Lesson


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Lesson ID: CH-004