Guitarists need a lot of techniques for their proverbial toolbox. Few, though, are as important as the ever-useful power chord.
They are a staple of the rock genre. You'll find power chords featured front and center in more songs than you can probably name. Rock songs aren't the only place you'll find them, though.
Jazz, rock, country, reggae -- you'll find power chords useful for every style of music. That is, if you learn how to use them to their greatest effect. We're getting ahead of ourselves, though. First, we'll need to define power chords and show you some of the basics.
In essence, a power chord is a two note chord that is neither major nor minor. Savvy music theorists will note that this is because it only consists of the root and fifth notes of a given chord. Since the third is what determines if a chord is major or minor, power chords remain neutral.
There are plenty of ways to play them all. We'll start, though, by diving into the most common variation. Here's how it works...
Let's say you want to play a C power chord -- the C5 chord. You'd start by placing your first finger on the root note, "C." Head to the 5th string/3rd fret for this one. Now, we'll need our fifth, "G." You can find this on 4th string/5th fret. Play these two strings, and mute all the others.
Hear that? It's a C power chord at its most basic. As we mentioned earlier, it has the "C" sound, but doesn't swing major or minor. It will get the job done in situations that require a power chord, but try this next.
Keep your fingers in that original C5 position, but add your fourth finger to the 3rd string/5th fret. Hear the difference?
Your chord sounds stronger now, because you've taken the root note and doubled it. You can switch between these two styles of playing your C power chord, and even move this shape around the fretboard to form other power chords. Here's what we mean...
See how you can move that same basic shape to different locations to produce new power chords? That simplicity is part of the power chord's beauty, but it's not the only way you can choose to form such chords.
Let's go back to the C5 chord for example's sake...
As you can see, these variations differ in their placement on the fretboard. The similarity, though, is the fact that they all contain but two notes: "C" and "G."
Once your knowledge of the fretboard increases, you'll be able to find combinations like this for different power chords in different areas all around your guitar.
For the last of our power chords, we'll be sticking to two fingers. Come back to the top of the guitar neck for this one:
You can play such chords with ease using the rudimentary fingering we covered at the beginning of this lesson.
With time, you'll discover new fingering patterns for all your power chords. Use these as the situation calls for, and you'll find your playing improve to a degree you might never have thought possible.
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