#1
Hey guys, I'm new to the forum. I stopped playing guitar 10 years ago as I hurt my hand (I'm guessing it was a basketball injury) and have a hard time stretching my fretting hand to play notes and chords. I first noticed it one day while playing the intro to Hero of the Day... I couldn't reach down the neck! From there I tried everything to keep playing, but it would result in frustration and hand/wrist pain as I would try to play what I had already learned...

Fast forward 10 years later, and while nothing has changed with my hand, nothing has changed with my passion for guitar either. After playing with a friends guitar, I realized that I have no problems fretting a basic power chord, and since I always loved playing Green Day, I decided to jump back in to guitar, playing power chords (almost) exclusively.

My question is (for those I haven't bored yet!), what techniques, tricks, methods, etc. are available for someone restricted to power chords? I'm familiar with fret-hand dampening and palm muting, but what other techniques can I use to become a competent (if limited) guitar player? I would like to be able to have a pile of tools in the toolbox, even if they are all power chord related.

I appreciate any input! Oh, and does anyone have any suggestion for "power chord songs" that I can play around with?

Thanks!
#2
Add some vibrato to them as well. Plenty of songs can be played with power chords and single note riffs, just check out the ramones.
#3
Pretty much everything technique wise you can transfer to just the power chords, sliding, vibrato, legato is all fair game just power chord fingering.

Song wise, pop punk/rock tends to be power chord heavy, i started out playing these as they are just plain fun to play.

The Offspring
Good Charlotte
Blink 182
Bowling for Soup
+44
Pink
Green Day


Any song can be transcribed into power chords but you will loose some of the fullness of a full chord. But it may give some interesting takes on songs for covers.

Personally i find playing songs such as these is a lot of fun, and as your are limited it allows you to still enjoy playing what you love.
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#4
You could maybe look into some Django Reinhardt. He was a jazz player that lost 2 fingers on his fret hand in a fire.
Sigs are for pansies.
#5
Quote by CanIbeDanny?
You could maybe look into some Django Reinhardt. He was a jazz player that lost 2 fingers on his fret hand in a fire.


You can do remarkable things with two good fingers combined with a passion and will to succeed. Django is a big inspiration.

I'm not as badly off.

On my fret hand, my pinkie and ring finger are intact. My forefinger is severed at the first joint past my knuckle, my middle finger is severed at the second joint past the knuckle

Learn, adapt, overcome.
'It takes 100 guitar players to change a light. One to change the light and 99 to stand around pointing, saying..."Yeah man, look...I can do that too"...'

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#6
I have to admit, I do have a lot of fun playing power chord songs as I can always add something a little different in them, percussion wise... and I played a little drums when I was younger, so that transfers

I'll have to look into Django, sounds like an inspiring story. TBH when I try to do anything to radical (and by radical, I mean 75 percent of chords) my hand and wrist hurts; making guitar playing too painful to enjoy... not to mention the fact that it takes considerable effort to separate my pinky from my ring finger while playing), I CAN however, use my index and middle finger independently for notes without any problem. The first song I learned to play just getting back into it is Having a Blast by Greenday; with that little single note run throughout the main riff.

My main goal is to be able to have a "style" that no longer makes me feel inadequate at guitar. I can look at the glass as being half full in saying that focusing on power chords will make me quite efficient, however I need to be comfortable with a style so I don't get frustrated with fingerings that I can 'almost' do, but not quite. It's funny because I can use my ring finger to a point, but it has its limitations (i.e. using it for hammer ons is weak) so I would rather focus on a style that encompasses just the index and middle fingers for single notes, and power chords (index/ring/pinky) for chords.
#7
Quote by Phoenix V


On my fret hand, my pinkie and ring finger are intact. My forefinger is severed at the first joint past my knuckle, my middle finger is severed at the second joint past the knuckle

Learn, adapt, overcome.


I have a lot of respect for someone who doesn't let anything get between them and what they love to do.

And the "learn, adapt, overcome" strikes a 'chord' as well, seeing how I'm in the Canadian Military
#8
Sounds like rythmn guitar might be something you could focus on. That's how I started before I worked out my own methods of getting into leads with what I have of my fret hand. My leads didn't come until years later. A good rythmn guitarist is worth their weight. A great rythmn guitarist can become world renowned and respected.

If you can straight power chord and also apply some variations then that's your base right there. On top of what you already listed, you can also apply power chord slides, like slide the chord up or down without picking the second chord. Popular in early Metallica stuff. You can add in single note riffs and picks within a power chord progression. Also try chromatic chord steps. Find all the harmonics on the fretboard and learn how to do pick harmonics and know when it's good to throw them in. There's a fair variety you can try with even limited use of a fret hand.

A good rythmn guitarist focuses on perfecting timing, being ultra tight and working on a 'sound' they are recognised for. Playing lead is all well and good, but a good song, think of any song you like, it's the rythmn and tempo that gets you really into it before anything else.
'It takes 100 guitar players to change a light. One to change the light and 99 to stand around pointing, saying..."Yeah man, look...I can do that too"...'

My gear is in my Profile

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Hondo 780 Deluxe
Gibson Studio
Epi LP100
Last edited by Phoenix V at Feb 1, 2012,
#9
For arguments sake, it's easier to say I can only play power chords, as the majority of songs (on rhythm) that I try have a sticky part that I just can't get past. Think Hetfields bridge on Enter Sandman, or little hammer on part in Of Wolf and Man. Since some parts are impossible, I'd rather focus on something that is limitless, like power chords.

In my travels I have spoken to a LOT of people that play with limitations, it's too bad there are not more resources, or at least encouragement lol. In looking for power chord songs in forums you usually see "power chords are for people who are looking for the easy way out".

I appreciate the replies, and will continue to hunt for more advanced power chord techniques.

Is there any good resources for "power chord guitar"?

Cheers!
#10
Have you tried Drop-D tuning (or drop-C, B, etc., depending on if you downtune)? That might open up more possibilities to you, since you'd be able to play power chords with one finger, then add sounds with your other fingers.
#11
I haven't bothered with drop tuning as I have no problem with standard tuning power chords, and I like to keep in standard tuning to play power chords on the top 4 strings. I'm liking the idea if focusing on rhythm, but my bag of tricks is generally limited to different ways of manipulating power chords.
#12
Octave riffing
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#15
Quote by MetalCommand
I guess you might also be able to play some other dyads (minor and major 3rds particularly) to add a bit of variety. Hopefully they're not too much of a stretch.


Yeah you could experiment with different dyads on the higher strings, played against a pedal low E note.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#16
Four strings! That's an intersting idea... Be able to do more with power chords without the bottom strings getting in the way... Then again, even something simple like American Idiot plays the last three strings open in parts... Hmmm...

And I'm going to have to find out what octave riffing and dyads are lol

(I "learned" to play guitar using tab)
Last edited by newfiesig at Feb 1, 2012,
#17
Dyads are two note chords/intervals - powerchords are dyads, but I was meaning playing 'powerchords' (ie the interval of a 5th) on the higher strings specifically. You could also play 4th intervals or any other intervals that your hands can play and just experiment. To clarify, I mean playing two notes on adjacent strings, you could create major 3rd intervals, minor 3rds, 4ths, 5ths and possibly more without stretching more than two frets either way. You might have to learn a bit of music theory to understand what I mean by intervals, and how you apply this wee idea is up to you and may just not be your style. Id love it if someone else, who understands what I mean, could explain it better and possibly find examples of songs which use this kinda riffery.


The octave riffing thing is much easier to understand - take the high note of the powerchord (I presume you are just playing two string powerchords) and move it up a string, muting the string in between with your first finger. The two notes you are playing (eg 5th fret E string with 7th fret D string) are an octave apart - this shape can be moved around as freely as a powerchords and has a slightly different sound. More useful if youre playing a melody with the shape as the octave will enhance the melody but a pwerchord would make it muddy sounding. Lots of bands have their second guitarist play riffs with octaves.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#18
Ok, I think I get what you're saying. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the main riff to Bush's Machinehead octave riffing?

Do you guys think cutting back to 4 strings is a good idea? I know it's all subjective, and if I wanted I could cut back to 1 string and paint it green... but I'm wondering how limiting you all think it would be, with power chords, octave riffing, etc. And how would it affect the sound of palm mutes?

Cheers!
#19
Hydras advice is one of the coolest and less complicated things you can do (knowing theory facilitates it and increases the fun exponentially though)

You do the following:

Pick the low E and let it ring.. fret a note on string A and a note on string D then experiment the hell out of it, play them simultaneously.. skip a string.. tremolo pick.. sweep it, lick it... etc.

if with your condition/injury or if you want to, you can also let the low e ring and play melodies all over the neck.

-1 to the 4 string idea. I dont see the point.
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Last edited by Slashiepie at Feb 1, 2012,
#20
Quote by newfiesig
I first noticed it one day while playing the intro to Hero of the Day... I couldn't reach down the neck! From there I tried everything to keep playing, but it would result in frustration and hand/wrist pain as I would try to play what I had already learned...
Thanks!


Im not sure i understand your problem but it might have something to do with proper posture. If you can play power chords then you must have your thumb behind the neck, which is a good thing if you look at classical guitar players. I dont see how you are not able to reach down the fretboard while keeping that posture.
Last edited by tappooh at Feb 1, 2012,
#21
Quote by tappooh
Im not sure i understand your problem but it might have something to do with proper posture. If you can play power chords then you must have your thumb behind the neck, which is a good thing if you look at classical guitar players. I dont see how you you are not able to reach down the fretboard while keeping that posture.


It's as if my ring and pinky fingers are co-dependent. for example, make a fist, and then stick up your index and pinky fingers (throw up the horns). I can do it with my right hand, but with my left hand my pinky doesn't raise up. Otherwise I have very strong grip.

If I fret a power chord (using index/ring/pinky) and try to raise my pinky, I can't at all. And I know how it's supposed to be, as I was able to play fine for over a year before it happened. Physiotherapists are stumped.
#22
Quote by newfiesig
Ok, I think I get what you're saying. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the main riff to Bush's Machinehead octave riffing?



Yeah that is octave riffing. Sounds cool (much more clarity than a powerchord in some situations) and very versatile technique (just listen to some Wes Montgomery).


Quote by newfiesig

Do you guys think cutting back to 4 strings is a good idea? I know it's all subjective, and if I wanted I could cut back to 1 string and paint it green... but I'm wondering how limiting you all think it would be, with power chords, octave riffing, etc. And how would it affect the sound of palm mutes?
Cheers!


I dont. For one, your guitar neck is set up to resist against the tension of six strings, so you'd have to adjust the neck or get a weird gauge of strings to stop any damage in the long term. And you shouldnt limit yourself my reducing the range unnecessarily - as I said earlier there are simple things you can do with the higher strings that you could probably do. But Keef Ritchards only uses 5 strings, so its up to you.
How hard do you find playing single note stuff on the higher strings, i.e. just sliding your index finger across the string? If you can do that then you can play melodies, and getting creative with effects (delay, octaver, harmoniser, whatever) can make a simple melody sound epic.


(just another thought - how would your fretting hand cope if it were to hold a pick? If you could, converting to lefty could solve all your problems (while creating a whole lot of new ones, because you will become a beginner again))
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#23
Quote by Slashiepie

-1 to the 4 string idea. I dont see the point.


I guess the main point would be, if I'm not using the bottom two strings, why have them around to get in the way and cause unwanted noise (again, just a thought as I am looking for answers)
#24
Quote by newfiesig
I guess the main point would be, if I'm not using the bottom two strings, why have them around to get in the way and cause unwanted noise (again, just a thought as I am looking for answers)


Unwanted noise shouldnt be a problem anyway if you can mute them with your picking hand.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#25
Quote by newfiesig
I guess the main point would be, if I'm not using the bottom two strings, why have them around to get in the way and cause unwanted noise (again, just a thought as I am looking for answers)


lower strings are muted with the right hand.

edit: damn..didnt see the previous post.
Quote by Hail
i'm the internet equivalent of ripping the skin off my face and strangling you with it right now


Quote by Steve Albini
Remixing is for talentless pussies who don't know how to tune a drum or point a microphone.
Last edited by Slashiepie at Feb 1, 2012,
#26
Quote by Hydra150


(just another thought - how would your fretting hand cope if it were to hold a pick? If you could, converting to lefty could solve all your problems (while creating a whole lot of new ones, because you will become a beginner again))


Not sure I'd be a big fan of going lefty... I think that would take a lot of enjoyment out of it for me... I'm trying to avoid frustration
#27
Point taken on the right hand palm muting... and I hadn't really considered that the guitar could be hurt with the reduction in tension, as I would want to stick with 9 gauge strings. I have a decent guitar and I wouldn't want to damage it...

It's frustrating enough to have a particular song/technique that proves difficult to play... but when that difficulty is mixed with pain and/or is physically impossible, you look for a solution that still allows you to take your instrument to it's fullest potential...

I could still play the crap out of a harmonica! (if I practiced, I mean)
#28
Quote by newfiesig
Not sure I'd be a big fan of going lefty... I think that would take a lot of enjoyment out of it for me... I'm trying to avoid frustration


Was just throwing that idea out there, I dont really know how bad your hand is or if such a change would be worth it. Im a lefty who has considered buying a cheap righty guitar so that I could become somewhat ambidextrous and to remind myself of what it was like in the beginning (I wanna be a teacher and having that experience fresh in my mind would be useful). Got a load of a mates rubbish acoustic for a while, I actually got a whole bunch of open chords down and was able to just about pull off simple strumming much quicker than I was able to first time round, as I was teaching myself and already knew how to do it (but my muscles didnt). Found the experience to be quite interesting and enjoyable, just wish the guitar I tried it on wasnt so cheap / badly set up.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#29
The suggestion is a very good one. I'd suggest the same thing to someone in a similar position, however I don't think I would enjoy it, and I LOVE to play power chords... What's missing is more depth so that I could become more of a complete player (if that makes any sense).

I'm 31 and back to university... you'll have to excuse my lack of articulation as I think I leave it all in school everyday!
#30
... and a badly set up guitar is enough to turn anyone from guitar! I bought a Godin LG Signature as I knew it was worth more than the guy was asking (already owned a Jackson Dinky), and the Godin felt horrible! I had it set up, and now I'm selling my Jackson!
#31
I didnt think you would go for it, I probably would in your position though, but thats just me. The reason I find the idead of starting over (sortof) again is probably more to do with the fact that I love nothing more than seeing myself improve at guitar, and when you get to a certain skill level seeing any real improvement requires a ton of practice and I'm too lazy to put the work in haha.

Any you'll have to excuse my articulation and long posts, I'm unemployed and out of education with nothing better to do with my time.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#32
Update: I've taken in the advice not to drop the bottom two strings, and have decided to keep them where they are. Someone recently turned to to Social Distortion, who does amazing things with power chords (not to mention solos that I can probably attempt w/o too much difficulty or hopefully any pain). I'm going to check out more of Mike Ness and his playing style. It seems fairly obvious that Billy Joe Armstrong has done the same