The Alternative To Bar Chords

Power chords are essential in playing rock music. This article is a simple how to on how to play power chords.

Ultimate Guitar
Power chords are fun and simple. I use them sometimes as an alternative to bar chords. There are three strings being played in a bar chord. Those three strings are the E, A, and D strings (4, 5, & 6). Bar chords are hard to explain to in words, so I mad a tab chart to show you how to play power chords.
E Power Chord           F Power Chord    
x|                      x|
x|                      x|
x|                      x|
d|2                     d|3
a|2                     a|3
e|0                     e|1
Those are only examples of two power chords on the low E string. Keep moving up fret by fret and there you go. You can also do the same stuff on the A string with the same three finger pattern. But once you get to the D string, things get complicated. Check out this helpful chart below.

55 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'm slamming it, poorly written and inaccurate article. Also, another article on how to do power-chords is unnecessary....
    Le Fantome
    UG headlines tomorrow.. '/OOM SLAMS Poorly-written Artical.' And yes, they WILL misspell 'article'.
    Dunno man. Seems to me, it's useful for n00bs like me.
    Same here. Good for n00bs and good for rock. Power chords don't substitute for anything they are excellent in the right context.
    There are much better articles out there mate -oh and youtube is probably the most valuable resource a noob can get - as well as Ultimate Guitar of course .
    Once you get to the d string, simply move the 5th one fret over as opposed to normal. Get to the B and just do a normal power chord. Not a difficult concept really. But with power chords you can't really use them as a substitute for barre chords, because you can't get the qualities (major, minor, etc.)
    Bad Kharmel
    I agree, using a power chord isn't a perfect substitution for a barre chord, and I'm sure we all agree on a clean/acoustic guitar if properly harmonized, a barre chord will sound better. However, I've met many an acoustic guitarist who told me that barre chords were too hard, and I've always given them power chords as a temporary substitute, since they feel similar and will build up your hand for barre chords.
    wouldnt you move the octave tonic up a fret on the b and not the fith which is on the g? and i agree but that can be a good thing sometimes
    This is silly. An article on chord voicings with regards to 7, M7, m7, dim7, sus, etc chords would be a good idea. This is too elementary. I don't know who picks the articles on this website, but they don't do a great job. If I see another Dave Mustaine article I'm going to be mad.
    Bar chords are hard to explain to in words
    Sounds like a rubbish excuse for not knowing any theory to me.
    Anybody else come in here expecting something interesting?
    Damaged Roses
    Lol, yeah... I think this is for people new to the guitar, because barre chords are a huge pain when starting out. So these basically tells noobs to don't give up, because there are easier ways to play the stuff while they get better.
    power chords sometimes can substitute for bar chords if you play on the electric with high distortion, but if you play clean / on the acoustic you can't substitute power chords for bar chords. that is just cheating
    Can't tell if trolling, or just UG... Seriously though, how is an article that is so wrong about such basic concepts on the front page?
    Is this lesson serious? This is elemental knowledge to any guitar player. Why would anyone write this lesson is beyond me.
    Actually some slightly more interesting alternatives for barre chords are something like these: e|x e|x b|x b|x g|5 g|5 d|2 d|1 a|3 a|3 e|x e|x The first one is kind of a C major and the second one is kind of a C minor, although they don't actually include the fifths required to complete the chords. But I guess you could use those instead of barre chords occasionally to spice up your playing.
    Absolutely horrible. Words spelled wrong, as well as other simple mistakes that should've been caught. The author states there are three strings being played in a bar [sic] chord. I think he meant to say there are three strings being played in a power chord. He also states things get complicated once you get to the D string. Tell us why they get complicated and tell us how to make it work. Very poorly written and I gave it a 1, only because I couldn't give it a 0.
    "But once you get to the D string, things get complicated." ok, here it is: D2, g4, b5 now starting on g, it'd be: g2, b3, e5 also, learn what an octave is and how to find it on every string. once you recognize the pattern, you're halfway home
    Like those above me said, there's not really a substitute for bar chords. And power chords should definitely not be used just because bar chords are more difficult. They are more difficult to get used to but they offer so much more than a power chord.
    Wow, check it out, a bunch of stuff I taught myself after playing guitar for a month! Seriously though, wtf is so hard about playing power chords with the fretted note of the A string as the root note.. you hold your hand position and bring it all up one string... I don't think a noob could benefit from this article..
    I'm sorry for repeating 20 other comments, but this article is just THAT stupid. Barre chords and power chords are complete different concepts, both being fundamental skills of a guitarist. If someone can't play a barre chord, they shouldn't be looking for a shortcut out and use a power chord (which makes the song sound stupid).
    Everyone knows how to play power chords, you dont need lesson about it.
    I have just started playing guitar and cant play power chords. Your comment is arrogant and unhelpful. Not every 1 who comes to this site is an advanced player
    "Check out this helpful chart below" ??? Definitely a troll/comedian. NO ONE could make that chart and think "Yep, that will help people out a lot!"...
    I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but I'm legitimately lost as to the point of this lesson. Is this a lesson on power chords? I was hoping for some alternative to normal barre chords, this just seems to be telling you to disregard barring as a whole and playing...normal power chords? o_O What?
    Power chords will work as an alternative for bar chords, like... 20% of the time. Please UG, post something serious next time.
    Some people here seem to be really selfish and forget that some people are picking up the guitar for their very first time. Hence, a reason why this article is relevant. Ultimate guitar will be here long-after the veterans on here are gone. Hopefully the "noobs" reading this article will take your place but remain with the deceny to respect someone who is beginning.
    No. Beginners should learn from well written, well explained lessons. This article doesn't offer a lot, not in the way of explanation nor musical examples. Beginners should check out the site for 'noob' level lessons which are well written.
    This. To everybody saying "Who the hell needs an article on power chords, everybody knows that stuff!" What about the kid who just bought his first guitar today and is scouring the internet trying to figure out how to play it? Because I guarantee there are many out there doing that this very second.
    a good idea i think would be to play bar chords but play only the D G B and E string
    I love how powerchords utilize the third and seventh to establish a sense of tonality... oh wait never mind :p
    I thought he was going to show me how to play major and minor triads in other voicings...seeing as how that's what just about all barre chords are.
    as Eddie implied I'm blown away that a person able to profit $7977 in four weeks on the internet. did you look at this site NuttyRichdotcom
    What the **** is this? How is this a lesson? How on earth can this website be taken seriously when it posts articles like this? I ****ing hope the author wasn't paid for this shit.
    Power Chords are great for punk rockers and rock stars and are a fine alternative when you really don't have a specific chord down (which for me is the B chord). However, it does not beat the long strums of a bar chord you hear in all other genres.
    I can't tell if this was intentionally horrible or dead serious.
    Power Chords are fine in some cases, but to fully appreciate the true harmonics of any song use barre chords,stay away from the power chords & learn & practice barre chords
    I think its time to start getting away from power chords as much as possible. imo
    My alternative way to play barre chords is simple, and gives you the full chord, minus the root: E:1 B:1 G:2 D:3 A:3 E:x All this does is remove the root (which this, being an F Chord is found in the octave on the the third fret on the d string.) This also allows you to incorporate minors, 7ths, etc.
    I thought barre chords were basically the alternative for power chords?