23. Power chords

So let me get this straight…you need power to play these chords? Like…you have to plug them in?

1. Topics of discussion

In this tutorial, we are going to take a look at the odd chords out: power chords. So, let’s have some fun.

2. Power chords explained

Power chords (notated by using the 5 digit, e.g. C5, G5 etc.) are a weird type of chords. Mostly for the fact that you don’t actually require 3 notes to play them, as is the rule for all other chords.

All you have to do in order to play a power chord is play a fifth music interval. That’s it. More often than not though, you will also add the root note an octave higher to those chords.

Power chords are easy enough to play. Let’s play a G5 chord, in two versions:

E|------------|
B|------------|
G|--------12--|
D|--5-----12--|
A|--5-----10--|
E|--3---------|

Here they are played back:

Finger wise, here is how you play them, in order:

G5_1

G5_2

The fifth is formed between the notes on the E and A strings and A and D strings respectively (G-D is the fifth in question). We also add the G note an octave higher on the D and G strings respectively.

Power chords are very popular amongst any type of punk, rock or metal music and playing them any higher than the second variant of the G5 chord above is rarely seen.

Power chords are neither major nor minor as you might expect. The only variations you might see are a power chord with a flatted fifth, which usually occurs on the 7th degree/note of a diatonic scale, or with a sharpened fifth, which occurs in harmonic and melodic minor scales.

Such an example is B5(♭5):

E|-----|
B|-----|
G|--4--|
D|--3--|
A|--2--|
E|-----|

Here it is played back:

Finger wise, here is how you play it:

B5(b5)

You can also use the 4 finger instead of the 3 one, whichever you feel more comfortable with.

That about covers it for this tutorial. Next time, we will be visiting one of the more neglected chords when we talk about augmented chords and minor scales. See you then.

Chord charts generated using this chord generator

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