Power Chords | 5 Chords

Hi all,

Today we are looking at power chords, the corner stone of ROCK!!
Actually, power chords are used in many different kinds of music and serve as a very useful tool in our vocabulary.

A two note chord, the sound it produces is a thick, heavy sound and is neither minor nor major, which is different to the big eight chords we looked at before.
The reason they are neither minor nor major is because of a note missing in the middle of the chord known as a third.

A power chord looks like the shape below.

G5

Note that the only strings being played are the two that we are fretting, as shown below. The others are not played.

G5

The chord above is a G power chord, known as a ‘G5’ – hear it here [G5]

The red note in the chord is the root note, which is the note the chord is named after.  The root is G – the chord shape is a ‘5’ chord so therefore it is named ‘G5’ – easy!

We can remember the shape as ‘one down, two across’ because the second note is one string down and two frets across from the root note.

‘5 chords’ on the A and D string

We can also play power chords with the root note on the A string or the D string.
The idea is the same – we only play the two strings we are fretting.

The chord below is rooted on the A string and the root note is C, making it a C5 chord. Hear it here [C5]

C5Power Chords 001 (1)

 

The chord below is rooted on the D string and the root note is F, making it a F5 chord. Hear it here [F5]

F5 Power Chords 002

 

‘5 chords’ on open strings

It is also possible to play a power chord which is rooted on an open string.
The power chord below is rooted on an open E string, making it an E5 chord.
Hear it here [E5]
E5 Power Chords 001

Exercise

Try finding the following power chords:

  • A rooted on the A string
  • D rooted on the D string

Here is an example of a chord sequence using power chords – Example_Power_Chords

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 14.55.12

Three note power chords?

You may see some power chords written as a three note chord, but don’t worry too much, that third note is just another root note added in to thicken up the chord even more.  You’d play the extra note with your little finger. It looks like this:

G5(2)

You can find plenty of songs that use power chords – here are just a few:

Smells like teen spirit – Nirvana
All the Small Things – Blink 182
Basket Case – Green Day
You Really Got Me – the Kinks
…and thousands more.

Practice playing some power chord sequences of your own with the drum tracks on this site.

Need help reading the diagrams? Read the guide here.

Happy playing!

JW

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