Hard Rock For Beginners

Power chords, barre chords, keys, simple riffs.

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Ultimate Guitar
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I have been playing guitar for a year and a half now, and I have found these lessons on UG to be very useful. However, I have noticed that there are very few that demonstrate how to begin playing hard rock. So for all you beginning rockers out there who want to play Stone Temple Pilots, AC/DC, Smashing Pumpkins, And Silverchair, just to name a few, this is where you start. First and foremost you must learn power chords. Power chords are technically just the root note and the fifth interval. (There may be an optinonal octave of the root note.) Examples:
-3
-3  -8
-1, -6 
F5  A#5
If you take the low E string and tune it down to a D, this is called droppped D tuning. Power chords in this tuning are easier to play and have a heavier sound. Examples:
-3
-3  -8
-3, -8
F5  A#5
The next thing you need to learn is barre chords. Barre chords are constructed by taking open chords and moving them down the fretboard while you use you first finger to cover all the strings. Examples:
-0-3                      -0-3
-0-3                      -2-5
-1-4                      -2-5
-2-5                      -2-5
-2-5                      -0-3
-0-3                      -x-x
E becomes G               A becomes C
first finger covers       first finger covers
3rd fret                  third fret
This takes some time to fully get a hang of, so keep practicing. Next thing you have to know is relative majors and minors. To find a relative major chord, play a minor barre chord and move it three frets up the neck. Then change the resulting chord to major. To find a relative minor, play a major barre chord and move it three frets down the neck. Take the resulting chord and change it to minor. Examples: The relative minor of C is Am The relative major of Em is G The next thing that you need to learn about is keys. Keys dictate what chords and scales are played together. A key is based off of the natural major scale. The first, fourth, and fifth intervals on this scale should be major chords. The second, third, and sixth intervals should be minor chords. The seventh should be a suspended chord. Since power chords are neither major nor are they minor, due to the fact that they do not have a third, it is difficult to put them into a key. I usually use the power chord variations on the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth, but it really doesn't matter. Examples: Key of C: Cmaj, Dm, Em, Fmaj, Gmaj, Am, Bsus4 or Bsus2 Key of C#: C#maj, D#m, Fm, F#maj, G#maj, A#m, B#sus4 or B#sus2 Key of D: Dmaj, Em, F#m, Gmaj, Amaj, Bm, C#sus4 or C#sus2 Key of D#: D#maj, Fm, Gm, G#maj, A#maj, Cm, Dsus4 or Dsus2 Key of E: Emaj, F#m, G#m, Amaj, Bmaj, C#m, D#sus4 or D#sus2 Key of F: Fmaj, Gm, Am, A#maj, Cmaj, Dm, Esus4 or Esus2 Key of F#: F#maj, G#m, A#m, Bmaj, C#maj, D#m, Fsus4 or Fsus2 Key of G: Gmaj, Am, Bm, Cmaj, Dmaj, Em, F#sus4 or F#sus2 Key of G#: G#maj, A#m, Cm, C#maj, D#maj, Fm, Gsus4 or Gsus2 Key of A: Amaj, Bm, C#m, Dmaj, Emaj, F#m, G#sus4 or G#sus2 Key of A#: A#maj, Cm, Dm, D#maj, Fmaj, Gm, Asus4 or Asus2 Key of B: Bmaj, C#m, D#m, Emaj, F#maj, G#m, A#sus4 or A#sus2 To play a minor key, you use the chords in the key of the relative major. Now that you know that, you need to start learning some songs with easy chord progressions and/or riffs. I reccommend Back In Black(AC/DC), Tomorrow(Silverchair), and Plush(Stone Temple Pilots). I am posting the verse progression for plush below.
G            D/F#
e--3--3-----------3--3-----------
b--3--3--x--x-----2--2--x--x-----
g--0--0--x--x--2--3--3--x--x-----
d--0--0--x--x--0--0--0--x--x--2--
a--2--2--x--x-----------x--x--3--
E--3--3--------2--2--2--------1--
               (thumb)
   F              C          Emaj7
e--1--1-----------0--0-----------
b--1--1--x--x-----1--1--x--x--3--
g--2--2--x--x--0--0--0--x--x--3--
d--3--3--x--x--3--3--3--x--x--5--
a--3--3--x--x--2--2--2--x--x--6--
E--1--1--------------------------
   
                              F
e--------------------------------
b--3--3--x--x--3--3---3---x------
g--3--3--x--x--3--3---3---x---2--
d--5--5--x--x--5--5---5---x---3--
a--6--6--x--x--6--6---6---x---3--
E-----------------------------1--

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    TheJHubs
    Really liked the useful information about the chords in the chord progression; I never knew the 7th was supposed to be sus2 or sus4, so thanks!
    sonnikkthunk
    The 7th is supposed to be a diminished chord. Having a sus2 or sus4 could work for the style, but theoretically, that's not what it's "supposed" to be. WHatever sounds good while you write is whats really important though.
    sonnikkthunk
    Really liked the useful information about the chords in the chord progression; I never knew the 7th was supposed to be sus2 or sus4, so thanks!
    Theoretically, the 7th should be a diminished chord. A sus2 or sus4 could work at times in this style, but technically that's not what its "supposed" to be. Whatever sounds best when you write is really what's important though.
    AeolianWolf
    again, the seventh chord is supposed to be a diminished chord. if you make it a sus2 or sus4 chord, it will lose its dominant function, and you run the risk of losing your tonality. your section on diatonic chords was almost completely incorrect. the iii of C# major is not Fm, it is E#m. same goes for the ii of D# major. the iii of G# major is not Cm, it is B#m. the vii of D# major is not D, it is Cx. and there's a lot more incorrect about it that it would take me a long time to point out. if you don't know when to call a note B# instead of C, Ab instead of G#, or Cx instead of D, you have some more studying to do. if you don't think B# and E# exist, or you don't know what Cx is, you aren't ready to teach music. there's a lot more to music than playing guitar for a year and a half.
    David Blackbird
    There are no such keys as D# Major, A# Major, or G# Major. They should be Eb Major, Bb Major, and Ab Major, respectively. This is basic music theory, and I agree with AeolianWolf's last two paragraphs. I don't mean to sound harsh, it's just how it is.
    motallica757
    I totally agree with David Blackbird... u should really master this stuff b4 u go on teaching it
    AeolianWolf
    David Blackbird wrote: There are no such keys as D# Major, A# Major, or G# Major. They should be Eb Major, Bb Major, and Ab Major, respectively.
    well, you have to realize that D# major, A# major, and G# major DO exist, but they are too impractical for common use, as they require double-sharps just to stay in key, and, in many cases, a triple-sharp would be necessary to properly notate an accidental. as you said, notating them as Eb major, Bb major, and Ab major really just makes things easier. but remember that it doesn't mean that the enharmonic sharp key doesn't exist. theoretically, through the use of accidentals, i could name any key anything i wanted. i could call C major 'Dbb major'. i could call G major 'E#x major', and i could call F major 'Abbbb major'. these keys exist, but they are extremely impractical for common use.
    thebombdiggity
    well. all i got to say is that i dont have a clue how to play guitar, and this just confused the crap outta me. thanks.
    naruto4kt
    Thanks this really helped me alot . . . I am now way better and only oplaying a month
    krypticguitar87
    G D/F# e--3--3-----3--3----- b--3--3--x--x-----2--2--x--x--- -- g--0--0--x--x--2--3--3--x--x----- d--0--0--x--x--0--0-- 0--x--x--2-- a--2--2--x--x-----x--x--3-- E--3--3-----2--2- -2-----1-- (thumb) F C Emaj7 e--1--1-----0--0----- b--1--1--x--x-----1--1--x--x-- 3-- g--2--2--x--x--0--0--0--x--x--3-- d--3--3--x--x--3--3- -3--x--x--5-- a--3--3--x--x--2--2--2--x--x--6-- E--1--1--- -- F e----- b--3--3--x--x--3--3---3---x----- g--3--3--x--x-- 3--3---3---x---2-- d--5--5--x--x--5--5---5---x---3-- a--6- -6--x--x--6--6---6---x---3-- E-----1--
    This is the tab for plush but the second chord is wrong and for a beginner, would be difficult to fret. the way it should be written is: G D/F# e--3--3-----2--2----- b--3--3--x--x-----3--3--x--x--- -- g--0--0--x--x--2--2--2--x--x----- d--0--0--x--x--0--0-- 0--x--x--2-- a--2--2--x--x-----x--x--3-- E--3--3-----2--2- -2-----1-- (thumb) F C Emaj7 e--1--1-----0--0----- b--1--1--x--x-----1--1--x--x-- 3-- g--2--2--x--x--0--0--0--x--x--3-- d--3--3--x--x--3--3- -3--x--x--5-- a--3--3--x--x--2--2--2--x--x--6-- E--1--1--- -- F e----- b--3--3--x--x--3--3---3---x----- g--3--3--x--x-- 3--3---3---x---2-- d--5--5--x--x--5--5---5---x---3-- a--6- -6--x--x--6--6---6---x---3-- E-----1-- BTW the F# on the sixth string is unnecessary, and should be eliminated for beginners, since most of them will not even notice a difference.
    krypticguitar87
    sorry that didn't post right any way the D/F# chord should look like this: e|--2 B|--3 G|--2 D|--0 A|--- E|--2 But for a biginner I would just make it a D major, mostly because it wont change the sound and is much easier for the progression of chords, and because that's how I play it: e|--2 B|--3 G|--2 D|--0 A|--- E|---
    ryan guerena
    for plush i usually tap the durm beat into the pickguard in place of the muted strums. it sounds good and keeps on beat.
    xXxA7X~Fan07xXx
    Sorry but this didn't help at all. Post some more hard rock guitar riff examples in drop d please but do them a little more understanding. I didn't really understand this lesson.