Rhythm Guitar. Part 1- Powerchords

author: slash_pwns date: 07/01/2005 category: the basics
rating: 9.2 / votes: 128 
In the first installment of rock rhythm guitar you will learn about power chords. How to make them, play them, and even the theory behind them (Theory? Power Chords? What? It's true, even Power Chords have theory). You will also learn some riffs in songs that use power chords, and then how to use common progressions to make your own riffs. 1. Power Chords. The basis of rock music. The power chord. Power chords are possibly the easiest chord and have a great sound. The only theory behind a power chord is the way you make it. The construction of a power chord is (1 5 (1)). Thats all. Now, lets learn some powerchords! But remember - Power chords are in interval of a perfect fifth- not a chord!
   E5  F5  A5  B5
|-----------------|
|-----------------|
|---------(2)-(4)-|
|-(2)-(3)--2---4--|
|--2---3---0---2--|
|--0---1----------|
The first chord is E5 (putting 5 at the end of the note means its a power chord, because all a power chord is, is a root and a fifth). E5 is made of the notes E, and B. The additional note in brackets is the octave of E. It is not needed, but adds depth and a brighter sound to your power chords. The second chord is F5. Its notes are F and C. This chord is moveable, so if you move each note up 2 frets, it becomes G5. Two more and its A5, get the idea? The third chord chord is A5. Like E5, it is played in open position, so you can't move it. Its notes are A and E. The fourth and last chord is B5. Its notes are B and F#. it is a moveable shape, like F5, so if you move it up 1 fret, it becomes C5. There are three ways you can play a power chord. I = Index M = Middle R = Ring P = Pinky
  0  1   2   3   4   5 
e|-|---|---|---|---|---|-
B|-|---|---|---|---|---|-
G|-|---|---|---|---|---|-
D|-|---|---|-P-|---|---|-
A|-|---|---|-R-|---|---|-
E|-|-I-|---|---|---|---|-


  0  1   2   3   4   5 
e|-|---|---|---|---|---|-
B|-|---|---|---|---|---|-
G|-|---|---|---|---|---|-
D|-|---|---|-P-|---|---|-
A|-|---|---|-P-|---|---|-
E|-|-I-|---|---|---|---|-

  0  1   2   3   4   5 
e|-|---|---|---|---|---|-
B|-|---|---|---|---|---|-
G|-|---|---|---|---|---|-
D|-|---|---|-R-|---|---|-
A|-|---|---|-R-|---|---|-
E|-|-I-|---|---|---|---|-
The next power chords are not used often (except for the open shape) and are trickier than the other ones.
   D5  E5
|---------|
|-(3)-(5)-|
|--2---4--|
|--0---2--|
|---------|
|---------|
I suggest you make these chords with method 1 of positioning you fingers. Some common ways to play powerchords:
e|-----------3--3-------------3--3--------------6-----6----|
B|--------3--3--3-------------x--x--------6--6--6--6--6-6--|
G|--------x--x--0-----5-----5-5--5--5--5--5--5--3--3--3-3--|
D|-----5--5--5--0--5--5--5--5-5--5--3--3--3--3--3-------3--|
A|--5--5--5--5--x--3--3--3--3-3--3-----3--3----------------|
E|--3--3--3--3--3--3--3----------3-------------------------|
    G5             C5               F5             Bb5
G5 is notes G D C5 is notes C G F5 is notes F C Bb5 is notes Bb 2. Drop D Tuning. What? We're changing tunings now? I thought this would be easy. Well, it still is. Drop D is very simple (unless you are using a Floyd Rose Trem. If you are, skip this section) tuning to get into, you just lower your 6th string (E- the really thick one) down one step. How do you do this? Well, if you have an electronic tuner, its a breeze. Just plug it in and lower the string to D. If you don't have a tuner, thats not a problem! Lower the string a little and play it at the 7th fret. Continue to do this untill it matches the open A string. Then, you're done! Now in Drop-D, power chords are 10x easier. Play this note:
|---|
|---|
|---|
|---|
|-2-|
Thats E (Every note on the low E string is moved up 2 frets, because you tuned down). To make a power chord, you have to add B. So, lets add B!
|---|
|---|
|---|
|---|
|-2-|
|-2-|
Pretty easy, eh? You can play that with one finger! Now, you can do your power chords, you've made them easier by going into drop D, and you know how to make all the other power chords yourself! Lets look at some songs that use power chords. 3. Power Chord Riffs. For just two notes, these little buggers are used in almost every genre! Lets look at some songs that use power chords. Still in Drop-D, eh? Lets do some songs in Drop-D before you tune up. Velvet Revolver - Slither. This is a great riff. It's also very easy to play! It's made entirely out of power chords. Lets look at the tab, shall we?
Main Riff:
E|------------------|-----------------|
B|------------------|-----------------|
G|------------------|-----------------|
D|-0-3-4-0-6-7-0-10-|-0-6-7-0-5-0-3-4-|
A|-0-3-4-0-6-7-0-10-|-0-6-7-0-5-0-3-4-|
D|-0-3-4-0-6-7-0-10-|-0-6-7-0-5-0-3-4-|
Play them all as 8th notes, at a tempo of 140-145 BPM. Pretty cool, huh? Easy too. The Darkness - Growing On Me. Also in drop-D, the verse riff to this song is all power chords. Listen to the song to get the right timing.
Verse:
E|---------------|----------------------------------|
B|---------------|----------------------------------|
G|---------------|----------------------------------|
D|---------------|----------------------------------|
A|-0-0--7-7/9-9--|-0-0--7-7/9-9---5-5--4-4--4-0-----|
D|-0-0--7-7/9-9--|-0-0--7-7/9-9---5-5--4-4--4-0-----|
So, now that you have those two riffs under your belt, lets tune back up to standard tuning for some more riffs. Silvertide - Ain't Comin' Home. If you've never heard this song, I suggest you listen to it. This song is made up of 3 chords (thats it! Except for the bridge, when a G5 comes in). Lets look at the tab.
Main Riff:
E|----||-------------------------||
B|----||----------------3--------||
G|-0--|o--1----2---2--x-2--2---2-o|
D|-0--|o--2----2---2--x-0--2---2-o|
A|-0--||--2----0---0--x----0---0-||
E|----||--0-----------x----------||
That one is a little thougher, because its a little fast and uses E major. Lets look at a song from the masters of power chords- AC/DC. AC/DC - Back in Black. Great Song, with piles of great riffs. I suggest listening to song to get the timing. I will put the entire intro for you to try.
Main Riff:
E|------2-2-2-------------|-3p0----------------|
B|------3-3-3----2-2-2----|-----3p0------------|
G|------2-2-2----2-2-2----|---------2b4r2------|
D|-2----0-0-0----2-2-2----|--------------------|
A|-2-------------0-0-0----|--------------------|
E|-0----------------------|--------------------|

E|------2-2-2-------------|-----------------------|
B|------3-3-3----2-2-2----|-----------------------|
G|------2-2-2----2-2-2----|-----------------------|
D|-2----0-0-0----2-2-2----|-----------------------|
A|-2-------------0-0-0----|-2---2--0-2--1-2--2~---|
E|-0----------------------|---4-------------------|

Chorus:
E|----------------|||-3--2-----------|||----------------||
B|----------------|||-3--3-----------|||----------------||
G|-2-----4--2--4--o|o-0--2--2-----2--o|o-2-----4--2--4--o|
D|-2--2--4--2--4--o|o-0--0--2-----2--o|o-2--2--4--2--4--o|
A|-0--2--2--0--2--|||-x-----0-----0--|||-0--2--2--0--2--||
E|----0-----------|||-3--------3-----|||----0-----------||
                  ^play x2           ^play x2           ^play 2x
So, you can now play some riffs, with power chords. If you want you can even go find the tabs for the songs and learn the rest of the song. Lets try to make some riffs using powerchords. 4. Making Your Own Riffs. I'll set you off with some chord progressions (used commonly in rock) and those 5 riffs from popular songs. Chord Progressions - A series of chords put together, that don't sound horrible. The Roman Numeral dictate which scale dgree as your root note. If it's upper case (V) it's major, if it's lower case, it's minor (I). Extensions can be added, like so: vii7b5, V7, Imaj7m etc.
A D E (I IV V)
G C D (V I II)
G D Am7 (I V VII7)
Those are some popular ones. Feel free to make any up, but try to remember, that a chord resolves best up a fourth (IV, 4) or down a fifth (V, 5). I've chosen A-G-D, (I VII IV) and I changed it around to Asus2 (A B E), Gsus2 (G A D), and D5 (D A). It's arranged for two guitars and a bass for those of you playing in a band situation, if you aren't in a band, just play Gtr I.
Q=156
... Asus2... Gsus2
... 4/4
... Gtr I
||---------------------|-------------------|
||o--------------------|-------------------|
||---------------------|-------------------|
||--9-9---9------------|-7-7---7-----------|
||o-7-7---7---10-12\---|-5-5---5---8-10\---|
||------------10-12\---|-----------8-10\---|
|
|... Gtr II
||---------------------|-------------------|
||o--------------------|-------------------|
||---------------------|-------------------|
||---------------------|-------------------|
||o--------------------|-------------------|
||--7-7-7---7--7--7--7-|-5-5-5-5-5-5--5--5-|
|
|... Bass
||---------------------|-------------------| 
||o--------------------|-------------------| 
||o--------------------|-------------------| 
||--7-7-7--7--7--7--7--|-5-5-5-5-5-5--5--5-|


.. D5
 
|-----------------|-----------------------||
|-8-8---3-3---3---|-(3)--------------(3)/o||
|-7-7---2-2---2---|-(2)--------------(2)/-||
|-------------0---|-(0)--------------(0)/-||
|-----------------|----------------------o||
|-----------------|-----------------------||
|
| 
|-----------------|-----------------------||4x
|-----------------|----------------------o||
|-----------------|-----------------------||
|-----------------|-----------------------||
|-----------------|----------------------o||
|-0-0-0---0-0-0-0-|--0--0-0-0-0--0-0------||
|
|
|-----------------|-----------------------||
|-----------------|-----------------------||
|-----------------|-----------------------||
|-0-0-0---0-0-0-0-|--0--0-0-0-0--0-0------||
Tuning: Drop-D (low to high- D-A-D-G-B-E) Its played fast (156 bpm), the root note of the chord is played by Gtr. II and The Bass. All that from powerchords? Thats a pretty long read for two notes! All you have to remember is that creativity is the key to building riffs and songs out of power chords. Note about tabs: about the tabs above (not directly, the ones of popular songs), these might not be 100% correct, but it's the way I play them, and they sound right. Thanks a lot to SilentDeftone for "Some common ways to play powerchords," the fingering diagrams, and helping me straighten this out!

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