What are power chords on a guitar

Power chords

If you have ever tried to play "normal", open chords with a distorted sound through your guitar amp, you will certainly not have been particularly satisfied with the result. Depending on the degree and strength of the distortion, these chords always sound rather mushy, "mushy" and not particularly differentiated.
Somehow you imagine the electric guitar sound differently.

The open chords simply contain too many different tones to sound clean with a distorted sound. So you have to somehow manage to play the chords with fewer notes to get a decent sound.

And it is precisely for this purpose that the power chord has always been used in rock music. This consists initially of only two tones, which are always played on two strings directly on top of each other. This should preferably be the lower strings.
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The power chord is very easy to grasp and remember, as there is actually only one really relevant shape that you can move on the fingerboard or transfer to other strings:

The index finger (1) always grips the keynote on the lower string, while the ring finger (3) grips two frets further on the string above. All other strings are not played, i.e. In other words, you should only play the two strings you have picked with a controlled attack of the right hand.

The advantage of this handle, similar to the bar handles, is that it can be moved. It's exactly the same principle: If you know the notes on the E and A strings, it is possible to generate all power chords and thus also accompany songs.

The power chord can be used over both major and minor chords, as it has no "key type".
In the following illustration I will first show you the two most common types: Den Power chord with root note on the low E string and the with Root note on the A string.

As you can see, nothing changes in the fingering. Only the pair of strings is changed. With these two simple basic shapes, you can already exploit a lot of possibilities.

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Here I'll show you a little extension of the power chord (with the root note on the E or A string). It is about the following:

You can also let your little finger grasp the string that lies above the string on which the ring finger is gripping. In the same fret as the ring finger. It may sound a little complicated, but it's very simple. This does not change anything that has been learned so far.


The two tones of a power chord are always the Keynote (e.g. in the B-Powerchord the "B") and the associated Fifth (the fifth note of the respective scale). That's where the comes from 5 in the chord symbolism of the power chords.

This does not change anything if you play the "whole power chord", because the additional note you fingered with your little finger is nothing other than the root note, just one octave higher.


Now I'll show you a power chord variant with an open string as the root note. This variant is possible with the empty E, A and D strings. Again, the following applies: Just strike the two strings to be played and not the rest!

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