#1
So I've been trying to learn power chords. I've watched 6 videos on Youtube yet I can't understand them at all. Language won't be a problem although English is my second. Any technique I should know ?
#2
For simplicity, I'm only going to initially use non sharp/flat values - though these will factor in when you start playing around with them.

The most common/simplest scale often used to teach piano is the C major scale. The scale starts at C and ends 8 notes above it, also on C. There are no sharps or flats within this.

Note - C----D----E----F----G----A----B----C
Degree - 1----2----3-----4----5-----6----7-----8

So - A power chord is composed of the 1st and 5th note of the scale. In this instance, it would be C and G (Root & 5th)

Translated to guitar:

e-----------------------------
B----------------------------
G----------------------------
D---5----G--------------------
A---3----C---------------------
E---x---mute----------------------


That shape can be moved and manipulated all over the bottom 3 strings (in practice) to produce different 'power chords'

F major powerchord
e-----------------------------
B----------------------------
G------------------------------
D---x----Mute----------------
A---3-----C--------------------
E---1-----F----------------------

B major powerchord
e-----------------------------
B----------------------------
G------------------------------
D---4-----F#--------------
A---2-----B--------------------
E---x-----Mute-----------------


Now - that hand position/shape (index finger on A string 2nd fret, ring finger on D string 4th fret) is identical to the C major discussed above - just slid forward a fret. It's also identical (though on a different string) to the F major power chord also listed above.

That single shape can play every "power chord" all the way up and down the neck, you'll just need to learn the names of the root notes!
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance - Confucius
#3
As both other users have said, a power chord is built off of the root note and the perfect fifth above it. You can also add in the octave (of the root) if you would like, and that's all personal preference. dPrimmy gave a great example on finding out what the 5th note of is by using the major scale, which you should learn alongside the minor scale and the notes along the fretboard.

When playing a power chord on guitar, the physical shape will be pretty much the same all along the guitar. Plus, it's a moveable shape, so if you know the notes on the guitar, you can find out where to play any power chord.

The most common shapes for power chords are rooted on the Low (thickest) E-string and A-string. A helpful hint is to thing of it like this: place your finger on either of these strings as the root note. To play the 5th (the "power" of the chord), It is the string down from that, and is played 2 frets up.

G Power Chord

e|--------|
B|--------|
G|--------|
D|--5--G--|
A|--5--D--|
E|--3--G--|


A power chord (can be played on the 5th fret of the Low E string of open on the A string)

e|--------|     e|--------|
B|--------|     B|--------|
G|--------|     G|--2--A--|
D|--7--A--|     D|--2--E--|
A|--7--E--|     A|--0--A--|
E|--5--A--|     E|--------|


When it comes to the shape on the D- and G-strings, and the G- and B-strings, the shape is altered a bit. On the D-and G-string pairings, the "formula" for finding the root is the same, but the octave is moved up a fret. On the G- and B-string, with any given root on the G-string, the 5th will be bumped up one string (B string in this case) and 3 frets higher. I will provide a few other examples.

E power chord (root on the D-string)

e|--------|
B|--5--E--|
G|--4--B--|
D|--2--E--|
A|--------|
E|--------|


A power chord (root on the G-string)

e|--5--A--|
B|--5--E--|
G|--2--A--|
D|--------|
A|--------|
E|--------|


I hope that I helped you out with understanding how to physically play a power chord as well as some hints on forming how to play them. As suggested, even if you are just playing for fun, learning basic theory like the major scale, minor scale, notes along the fretboard, intervals, and how chords are formed can help you out immensely. Piecing together playing it (touch), seeing the charts for things on paper (in sheet music or tab; through seeing), listening to what your playing, and analyzing what you're playing (theory of WHY it sounds good, NOT how) will help you out!

Forgot to mention this: playing a power chord "shape" on the B- and (high) E-string is the exact same way as played on the (low) E- and A-strings.


dPrimmy

The only thing I would correct is you calling the F (and B) a "major power chord." Since a power chord is only the root note and it's perfect fifth, it is neither major nor minor since it doesn't have a third. Power chords can be substituted for their respective major or minor chord, given that the root is the same.
Skip the username, call me Billy
#4
Technically, just choose some pitch, and combine this with another one 7 semitones higher (this an example of an interval, in this case known as a "perfect 5th"). The guitar tuning results in the shapes the guys showed above, where they are also adding in the octave (12 semitones higher) of the chosen pitch.
#5
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Technically, just choose some pitch, and combine this with another one 7 semitones higher (this an example of an interval, in this case known as a "perfect 5th"). The guitar tuning results in the shapes the guys showed above, where they are also adding in the octave (12 semitones higher) of the chosen pitch.


Exactly! Probably put in simplest terms. I know some people are "visual" learners," and they find it easier to learn that way.
Skip the username, call me Billy
#6
dPrimmy

Two things. Why do you need to play muted notes on power chords and why are you calling them major power chords when the entire concept of a power chord is that it lacks a third (ie nit inherently major/minor)?
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#7
Quote by theogonia777
dPrimmy

Two things. Why do you need to play muted notes on power chords and why are you calling them major power chords when the entire concept of a power chord is that it lacks a third (ie nit inherently major/minor)?


1) It's relative to how I do it. I intentionally mute unneeded strings surrounding strings I'm playing. I realize that it isn't "required" to do so - but I've also been asked the question while demonstrating guitar concepts to newcomers IRL - "How do you play so aggressively, and yet not let all the strings make sound?". It's become more of a catch-all for sloppy play - though power chords aren't exactly known for their use while attempting to play chords outside the mainstream "conventional box".

2) It's more a "consider the audience" move based on the question. We can flood the poor guy with theory and understanding, or approach it with ideas that aren't wrong - but also aren't totally complete. When he realizes this, he'll come back for additional info. Until then - an Open C and a power chord C will sound like major chords, unlike a Cm open and a power C.
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance - Confucius
#8
Quote by dPrimmy


2) It's more a "consider the audience" move based on the question. We can flood the poor guy with theory and understanding, or approach it with ideas that aren't wrong - but also aren't totally complete. When he realizes this, he'll come back for additional info. Until then - an Open C and a power chord C will sound like major chords, unlike a Cm open and a power C.


No they won't. The third is what determines whether or not a chord sounds major or minor, if it's not there then by definition a power chord cannot sound major, or minor.
You said you didn't want to confuse the thread starter, then proceeded to do just that by over complicating your explanation with "ideas that aren't complete" needless information that doesn't directly pertain to the question at hand. That kind of goes double for your needless inclusion of muted notes in your tabs.

TS, a power chord is, in the simplest terms, a chord that omits the third - the note that gives the chord its major or minor quality. This makes them a bit easier to solo over as they sound more "neutral", but also they tend to sound better with distortion than full chords which can become dissonant.

Take at any open chord that you know and reduce it down to the lowest 2 or 3 notes, so from an open E chord just play the notes on the bottom E, A and D strings -that's an E power chord. Notice I didn't specify E major or E minor? That's because it doesn't matter, they both use the same notes on those strings.

It works exactly the same for barre chords, so whether it's an E or A shape barre chord you just reduce it down to the lowest 2 or 3 notes in the chord. If you don't know barre chords yet then you should probably look into them first before going any further with power chords as it'll probably make them a little easier to understand.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Jul 3, 2016,
#9
dPrimmy

Just because you do something doesn't mean that everybody does it. It sounds more like inaccuracy with your right hand technique more than anything. Also showing to mute the high octave or low fifth on the E string as if that is correct is also not helpful since the octave (let's say x244xx) is extremely common and the lower fifth (let's say 224xxx) is, while not as common, still used to give very heavy sounds to your power chords.

And I don't care what your intent is. There is still no such thing as a "major" or "minor" power chord because, as pointed out, the very definition of a power chord is that it intentionally lacks defined major or minor tonality by omitting the third, ie the tone that defines whether a chord is major or minor.
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