Power Chords

Simple lessons with exercises about power chords, part one.

Ultimate Guitar
Hey kids, it's Ky again! Today we will learn about power chords! Last time we learned the half-step and whole-step intervals. To start this lesson off we will learn a new interval: the Perfect Fifth. A perfect fifth is equal to seven half steps, I. e. two notes seven frets apart. However, since we are talking about a chord, that means we want to strike both notes simultaneously, and the only way to do this is by using two strings. Here is a sample power chord:
The root note, played on the A string, is the C. And the fifth of C, which is a G, is played on the D string. The beauty of power chords, is that you can make a root-fifth chord almost anywhere by simply moving the same shape around the fretboard. However, note that the shape changes when you play the root on the G-string, since the interval between the G-string and the B-string is different from the interval between other strings. Now lets look at some variations on the power chord:
In the first example, we have added another root above the fifth. This is another very common shape. The added high note makes the chord a little brighter. In the second example, we still have the root above the fifth, and now we have added a fifth below the root. The third example shows just the two lowest notes of the previous example. Here the root is actually the higher of the two notes, and the fifth is the lower note. This is another important shape to learn. Technically, this chord is called an "inverted" power chord. "Inversion" simply refers to the fact that the root is higher than the fifth... you can think of this as turning the chord upside-down. Now lets combine our understanding of power chords with the minor scale that we learned in the last lesson. Lets write all the power chords for the E minor key.
       I    II  iii   IV   V    vi  vii   I
Notice several things: The root notes of the chords simply follow the pattern we learned last time, the ascending E minor scale. I numbered the chords using roman numerals. This is the convention for chords. In this and future lessons from me, it will be understood that we are talking about root-fifth power chords when I use a roman numeral. Note that this is not always the case in other kinds of music. Finally, if you are wondering why I used lowercase letters for the 3rd, 6th and 7th chords, it is because we are using the minor scale, and these three minor intervals are flatted with respect to the major scale. Notice how the first chord and the last chord are both I-chords. In fact, any chord whose root note is an E would be an I-chord in the E minor key. Similarly, there are many of each chord all over the fretboard. Class Assignment: Try finding some more I-chords, II-chords, etc. in the E minor key. Also, try finding all the chords for another minor key of your choice. In the next lesson, we will learn about the tonic, which is an extremely important concept. See you then!

95 comments sorted by best / new / date

    heres' a fitting lesson for anyone somehow not familiar with playing power chords: d--2-- a--2-- e--0-- move this around the e and a strings and you have a power chord. go start a punk band. that's all you needed to type. however, you took such a simple concept that is being read by such novice guitarists and you somehow made it hard to understand. about 99%of the content in this lesson on unnecessary. no offense, but i think this is doing more bad than good.
    Hello Michael! There are better lessons about powerchords! Check the Metal lessons!!! It is under Music Styles.
    how the hell du u get confused with this i didnt even have 2 read this and i knew wot 2 du!!! in fact i fink its easyer if u dont read it(realy!!!) if u fink dats confuzin u shudnt even play the guitar
    Scarlet Fever
    I wrote a power chords lesson. I just posted it the other day. I haven't seen it yet, but I think it's easy to unterstand. Check it out if its there. It's under chords
    woops i musta got here by accident... PUHULEAZE!!! your all n00bs! Ky? am i supposed to know who you are?!
    listen to some really music dont listen to these dumbass posers listen to greenday or metallica or some band thats better and not a poser btw THIS IS NOT NEW NEWS
    i don't know if you have noticed this, but greenday and simple plan are on the exact same level. you can't condemn dull music when you listen to it yourself.
    this lesson shouldnt be in "Chords" because a power chord is actually not a chord geez undereducated people...
    hi i'm really new to guitar and its notations...so what does the |-x-| stand for in the notations?? i know the numbers ,i.e., |-2-| etc represent the fret no.... but what does the 'x' mean?
    this lesson is crap how about some of the names of the chords and some alternate ways to play them, for beginners learn how to identify every note on the fretboard and barre chords and power chords will come much easier.
    Mattga, try muting the strings with the fingers on your left hand (unless you're left-handed) so if you strike the other strings, you won't hear it.
    The Uproar
    is somebody can teach me power chords in a quick way plaeez email me at The_uproar@hotmail.co.uk
    The Uproar
    right that lesson was shit and confusing and AC/DC,Guns 'N' Roses ,Velvet Revolver and all old skool rock rules
    NEWSFLASH! Both greenday and simple plan are fags. Their fans are 14 yrs old girls with their firs pair of allstar shoes and black eye-makeup. when they get 16 years old they have two choices. 50 % goes for the emostyle and cut each other on a emoparty, and the other 50 % develop music understanding and listen to ramones, backyard babies or other quality bands.
    Hey guys, this would possible make more sense if you understood root notes to start with. Which I am trying to grasp myself today, so don't ask me lol. Waiting for that ahhh moment. Like, the c note is the root not of the c maj chord. Ok...why?? There is no c string, what makes c the root...that fact that that's the note the chord play? ...and that only bring on more questions and confusion. Good luck cause I'm hopeless!
    this really helped me out alot. my current guitar teacher showed me all this but it was never really broken down for me. im in complete aw right now.. thanks man much appreciated.
    um very confused.. need help pleeeez.....!!! Pics would help. This thing of --5-- --1-- confuses me totally...
    greenday dookie
    i just read the comments and if u want to learn Green Day learn ur power chords im 11 and i can play 3 Green day songs
    hey ! hnd co po tlga mgets kung paanu ung power chords n un .. pro gs2 co po tlga xa matutunan .. hope ! you understand me ..
    Mattga wrote: I have the exact same problem as you Adam Freeman, everytime i play a power chord on the string A,D,G, i always hit the string above it, especially when im upstroking.Does anyone have a solution? I usually try to mute it with another finger,but thats kinda hard.I need serious help with this. Also, i'd like more easy power chord songs."I believe in a thing called love" by the Darkness,"Venus" by the feeler,"Scotty dosent know", by Lustra. Keep adding on plz.
    it F up again. it its only two notes at once so ya just have to figure out by yourself sorry
    power chords are simple short lesson. Just make a simple power chord shape. usin your fingers 1 2 and 3 and on strings E A D on frets 1 3 3 and you can just move right and left but always keep the same distance between the notes. but i found a power chord riff that is F UP. its this e] 8 8 9 9 7 7 3 3 a] 7 7 10 10 9 9 3 3 5 5 5 5 d] 5 5 7 7
    power chords are easy enough, at least compare to barre chords. if anybody got any tips for barre chords send me a email anotherbandwithaplan@yahoo.com
    ppl would some one plz tell me how 2 download this lessonon the guitar pro plz
    This is a good lesson, could have gone a little into more into detail with chord voicing, overall a good starting point for someone starting out.
    I have the exact same problem as you Adam Freeman, everytime i play a power chord on the string A,D,G, i always hit the string above it, especially when im upstroking.Does anyone have a solution? I usually try to mute it with another finger,but thats kinda hard.I need serious help with this. Also, i'd like more easy power chord songs."I believe in a thing called love" by the Darkness,"Venus" by the feeler,"Scotty dosent know", by Lustra. Keep adding on plz.
    nice stuff man!!! but if u mentioned that the 5th note is the one, when a scale is played on the E A D stings things would be more easier for bigginers...but a good attempt!!!