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By Rhys Lett

Playing Power Chords

Always wanted to get started playing guitar? Not sure what to learn first? Try power chords!!!

Power chords are physically the easiest chord to play on a guitar. It only requires the use of two fingers played on the lower strings of the guitar. These chords are used in rock, hard rock, punk and heavy metal. They are usually enhanced by using a distortion effect either from an effects pedal or through the guitar amp controls.

Follow these three simple steps to power chord glory!!

How to play Power Chords

Step 1 – place first finger anywhere on the top string (6th string) eg. fifth fret.

Step 2 – place third finger on the next string (5th string) two frets higher than first finger eg. seventh fret.

Step 3 – only strike the strings you are holding down.

power chords

How to play a power chord

Bands that use power chords

Metallica – listen to the great Master of Puppets intro for fast thrashing power chord work.

Green Day – you barely need to learn another chord shape to play their entire catalogue.

Foo Fighters, The Who, KISS, Blink 182, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, the list can be endless as all hard rock and metal bands achieve their sound by using power chords.

AC/DC have a unique style to playing power chords that alters open chord shapes. Read how AC/DC create this sound in our article studying their playing style.

Making Power Chords Sound Better

A technique guitarist will employ to tighten the distorted sound used with power chords is palm muting. This is done by placing the side of the right hand (picking hand) on the strings at the bridge. This will help control the dynamics (volume). Commonly guitarists will palm mute power chords in a verse and play them unmuted during the chorus. An example of this is heard in the Blink 182 song “All The Small Things”.

Lastly, power chords are not major or minor chords. As discussed in our post about triad chords, the 1st note and 5th note are the same in the major and minor scale. A power chord is not major OR minor. It can be used in substitution for either.

Got questions? Contact us via the form on this site or call Rhys on 0421 705 150 to discuss taking guitar lessons at the Eastern Suburbs School of Music.