Power Chords - A Simplified Explanation

How to recognize and play a power chord.

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Ultimate Guitar
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A power chord is any chord that can be played using three or less strings on your guitar. Power chords are used in a variety of different musical genres, but they feature most prominently in Punk and Metal. Example of a power chord:
|--0--
|--2--
|--2--
|-----
|-----
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As you can see, it is only necessary to hit the top three strings (E, A, and D) in order to play the E5 power chord. Power chords come in many forms. As an example, the majority of the intro to "Cat Scratch Fever" is essentially a standard A chord, with only the three strings held down in the A formation being used, as your chord hand moves down the neck of the guitar:
|-----
|-----
|--2--
|--2--
|--2--
|-----
I hope you enjoyed this how-to guide to one of the more misunderstood guitar techniques.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MaggaraMarine
    You have the tabs upside down (your low E string should be the lowest line in tab). Also that second chord isn't a power chord. It's an A major chord. Power chord only has the root note and the fifth. That's what separates it from major and minor chords - major and minor chords have a third. A power chord becomes major or minor when you add a third.
    N3WW4V3N1NJ4
    I actually submitted this lesson with the tab like normal, I didn't put it the way it is now.
    N3WW4V3N1NJ4
    And a major also has the a and low e strings played open, so this version could be a power chord. I haven't seen it called not a power chord at least!
    AlanHB
    Incorrect, the presence of the major 3rd makes it a major chord. It doesn't have anything to do with whether there are open strings.