The power chord is a MOVABLE shape. This means you can move it around the fretboard to make different chords, even though your hands keep playing the same shape!
This is useful, especially if you learn the root notes on the thickest string, because it will allow you to play chords in any key, anywhere on the fretboard.
Power Chord Diagram
Taking a look at these two diagrams, notice that you can play the power chord with just 2 fingers, or expand upon that and add your pinky JUST above your ring finger to “fatten it up.”
Players usually use the “2 finger” version for a couple of reasons:
- It’s a bit easier and quicker to move around
- It sounds a bit clearer when using a lot of gain/distortion
And you may wonder how 2 notes are enough to make an entire chord. Simply put, the power chord contains the “root” and “5th” of a chord. These 2 notes provide the foundation or “skeleton” of any given chord. Power chords do not contain a “3rd” which means they are not major or minor. Thus they provide a neutral, rich and rhythmic foundation.
Power Chord Tips & Technique
- Sit up straight, put your shoulder back, bring your elbow in
- Place your fingers as close to the frets as possible (just like with your regular chords)
- Pluck each string of the power chord to make sure every note sounds clean (not buzzing!)
- Move the power chord up by 1 fret and strum it again – once again, make sure everything is ringing clearly
- Lightly touch the top strings (the thinner strings) with the underside of your index to help mute them and avoid unwanted string noise
- Try this ALL again, starting on the next string (A string)
Know Your Roots
Once you are comfortable with the shape itself you can move it around the fretboard. The power chord can be played with the root on the low E string OR the A string:
You simply line up the root (the white circle) with the appropriate note on that string, and you can play chords in ANY key!
Roots on the low E string:
Roots on the A string:
Power Chord Songs
These song tutorials use power chords EXCLUSIVELY so you can get used to playing them all over the fretboard.