How To Play Guitar Power Chords

Root Notes on the E String

The notes on the E string are:

guitar power chords

Now all you need to do is apply the power chord shape to each root note.

For example, if you play a power chord shape on the 1st fret of the E string (6th string). You’ll be playing a F power chord, like this:

f5To play this chord you:

  • Place your first finger on the 1st fret of the E string. (6th string.)
  • Place your 4th finger on the 3rd fret of the A string. (5th string.)
  • Strum the E (6th string) and A string (5th string) together.

Now lets try playing a different chord with a different root note.

Move that shape up to the 3rd fret, that note is a G.

So now we have a G power chord.

power-chords

Can you see how this is the same shape? This works for ANY root note on the low E string. (6th string.)

This time though, we have a different chord as we’ve changed our root note. We can also apply this method to the notes on the A string. (5th string.)

Root Notes on the A String

Just like the E string, on each fret of the A string, there is a new root note. So to play a power chord on the A string, we move the exact same shape over.

Let’s take a look at some of the root notes on the A string.

guitar power chords

If you play a power chord on the 1st fret of the A string (5th string), you’ll be playing a Bb power chord.

bb5

Now let’s move this shape up to the 5th fret, from our diagram we know that the 5th fret on the A string is also a D note. So if we move our guitar power chord shape here, we now have a D power chord.

power-bb-d5

Other Ways To Play Power Chords?

Even though it’s awesome to play power chords off of the E (6th string) and A string, (5th string) this can often be quite limiting as you’re stuck to one shape.

One awesome trick you can do, is adapt your standard open chords into power chords. Let’s take a look at how we can do this

G Major

To play a normal G chord, we usually need to use 3 – 4 fingers.

guitar power chords

Learn to play this chord here: 4 Easy Ways To Play The G Chord On Guitar

G Power Chord

To turn this into a G power chord, we’re going to remove our 1st finger which is currently on the 2nd fret of the A string.

Like this:

guitar power chords

To play this G power chord you:

  • Place your 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the E string. (6th string.)
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the B string. (2nd string.)
  • Place your 4th finger on the 3rd fret of the high E string. (1st string.)
  • Strum all the strings.

D Major

This is a normal D major chord.

guitar power chordsLearn this chord here: 3 Easy Ways to Play the D Chord on Guitar

To turn this into a D power chord, we’re going to place our pinky on the 5th fret of the high E string.

D Power Chord

guitar power chords

To play a D power chord:

  • Place your 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. (3rd string.)
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 2rd fret of the B string. (2nd string.)
  • Place 4th finger on the 5th fret of the high E string. (1st string.)
  • Strum from the D string. (4th string.)

This is a really cool way of getting a little bit more power out of your standard D chord.

C Major

The final chord we’re going to adapt is the C major chord. This power chord version sounds fantastic, and adds a desirable thickness when coupled with some distortion.

Here’s a standard C chord for reference:

guitar power chordsLearn this chord here: Easy Ways To Play The C Guitar Chord

C Power Chord

Now to turn this into a C power chord, we just need to remove two notes. Those notes are the 2nd fret of the D string and the high E string.

guitar power chordsTo play a C power chord you:

  • Place your 4th finger on the 3rd fret of the E string. (6th string.)
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the A string. (5th string.)
  • Place your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the B string. (2nd string.)
  • Strum from the E string. (6th string.)

It’s important when you play this chord that you let the G string ring out, but you don’t let the E and D strings ring out.

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Theory And Power Chords – Why Are They Called ‘5’ Chords?

In a power chord, we only use two notes. These notes are the:

  • Root note.
  • The 5th.

The root note is always the first note in the chord, ie. the note that gives it its name. The fifth is five notes above that.

In a guitar power chord, we only ever use these notes.

To understand this further, let’s use the musical alphabet.

Our musical alphabet is as follows:

guitar power chordsNow, lets add numbers to each of these letters:

guitar power chordsIn this case, we’re using ‘A’ as our root note. If we want to find out the 5th of ‘A’, we go across 5 notes.

This takes us to the note ‘E’.

Therefore if we want to play an A power chord, we only need two notes. Those notes are A and E. Now, play your open A string together with your open E string.

Voila! You’ve just played a basic open power chord, how easy was that.

What If I Want To Play Power Chords In A Different Key?

Let’s say we want to play a power chord in the key of ‘C’. This time we must start the musical alphabet from the note ‘C’. Like this:

guitar power chordsIn this case the note ‘C’ is the root note. To turn this into a power chord, count across 5 notes.

This takes us to the note ‘G’.

Therefore if you want to play a C power chord. You must play the notes C and G together.

You can apply this theory to any of the other notes, all have to do is start from your chosen root note.

To learn more about guitar notes, go here: Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

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