Dear fellow guitarist,
I can’t think of even one guitar god who can play innovative, inspiring guitar solos
which doesn’t possess the ability to play killer rhythm guitar too.
I mean, I know of guitar players like Stevie Ray Vaughn, who was able to play burning blues solos without knowing how to read and write music, or guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, who didn’t know much about music theory but was a great guitarist.
A great soloist with no less than excellent rhythm guitar???
I can’t find one…
Anyway, the subject of this 4th lesson is Power Chords.
As a young guitarist, it was one of the most exciting things to learn because it gave me the sound and the ability to play the music I listened to at that time, which was Rock and Heavy metal.
Music I knew from the start that I wanted to play and that the common beginner guitar chords just weren’t enough.
Power chords got their name for a reason, They add POWER to your playing, and not just in rock or metal genres, you can use them on any popular music.
I use them in my groove playing, fast blues rhythm playing, and also in pop music.
Mastering Power chords is a challenge. Not because of the shapes, those are easy.
But because of the fast riffs you usually play with these chords.
A great advice is to listen to bands who know their shit about jaw-dropping, high-energy power chords riffs. ( Check this out )
And also to heavy metal guitarists who made power chords an art form. ( Check them out too )
I’ve divided the power chords into two groups in the shapes chart below.
The first is with only two pressing points ( shape #1 or #3, for example ).
This group will be best suited for fast riff playing because it’s easier for the hand to jump from one chord to the other when there are only two pressing points.
Despite that, sometimes you’d like a “thicker” sound, and you can get it by adding the pinkie to the shape.
(shape#2 or shape#4, for example).
That’s the second group I’ve mentioned.
Usually, the fuller version of the power chords ( second group ) is used in softer or slow rock, but not just.
I’ve also added shapes for DIMINISHED power chords (flat 5), which are slightly less common.
Some Power Chords Technical stuff
- Power chords are written: capital letter + the number 5 to its right. For example, G5, A5, etc.
- In diminished power chords, the fifth is flat.
- Power chords consist of two notes or chord degrees, the 1st and the fifth notes. So for the G5 power chord, you will have the notes G and D.
- As mentioned before, sometimes you add a higher first degree to get the sound fatter. In our example G5, the notes will be G, D, G.
- Please be aware that because power chords are built with only two notes, It’s sometimes hard to determine what key they are.
Of course. We’re missing the most important degree in a chord, the one that determines if the chord is minor or major. THE THIRD DEGREE!
See, how are you supposed to improvise a solo if you don’t know if it’s a major or minor chord? What scales would you use?
- Learn some chord degrees theory to put chords in a scale degrees context.
- Experience, experience.
That’s why I’ve built the exercises for this lesson the way I did.
Every exercise has the original Minor or Major chord progression and the same passage only with power chords.
This will do two things for you.
First, It will help you develop a good ear for the chord type since you see them one next to the other, and second, you’ll be able to determine the scale.
Download the exercises + shapes + instructions for free
Practice it, kill it and start rocking now!
This article is about power chords and is the fourth and final lesson in the beginner guitar chords mini-course I present here.
Other three lessons: