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LickLibrary contributor Stuart Bull demonstrates the basics of power chords and how to play them
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Hi, I am Stewart Bull from licklibrary.com and welcome to this lesson on power chords. Power chords are used in rock music all the time generally played with some distortion overdrive or the sound that you would normally regard as begin synonymous with rock music. This sound, now a power chord uses two notes. Most of the time, they are usually known as the root and the fifth. But without getting into too much theory, I am just going to show you how to make the shape. Play the chord and then move it around. The first one that we are going to learn is an E5 chord or an E power chord. What we do is we take an open E note. We take the fifth, which is a B note on the second fret A string. And then we just play these two notes. Now, we move the up by fretting the notes so we use our first finger on the lower E string. First fret and then we use our little finger. Sometimes, depending on what is comfortable for you. Initially, if you are just starting off, the little finger would probably be a lot easier and then you can gravitate to the third one as you get a little bit more used to playing the guitar, so just a recap. The first finger on that first fret E string and that little finger is going to go on the third fret A string. The next one across and then we will play the two together.
It is very important not to play the other strings and what we are going to try and do is use the underside of this finger to mute the notes that we are not using. So now we have an E power chord and an F power chord. Now you can move this around wherever you want. In today’s heavy metal music, a lot of kind of strange sounding chord progressions is used and they do not necessarily have to adhere to any kind of theory. If you find something with this power chords that is cool, you can play it. So if I just play a regular riff, we are going to go to E5 to G5 to A5. The reason I know that it is E5, G5 and A5 is because of the bottom note, sixth string or the lower E string, I know that is a G and I know that is an A but make sure that we put the fifth above that every time. As we said before open E, secondary then when we come to the fretted power chord, it is always going to be the same distance. If for example, it is third lower E, G note, we are going to play two frets above and one string above the fifth fret on the A.
So third lower E, fifth A, you can just basically move this shape around. Just a recap on that riff and I will make it sound a little bit more interesting. We can just really experiment with some other chords. Okay, moving across to the A string, we do exactly do the same thing but one pair of strings above, so this time open A, second on the D, that gives us an A5 chord or an A power chord. Let me just move that shape up the same as we did on the A. So now we will have second fret on the A which is a B note and we will have fourth fret on the D which is an F sharp note and then we can just move this shape around. These chords are great. If you are having a little bit of trouble, just started playing guitar, you only have to worry about two notes and you get some quite interesting riffs and sounds just using this pair of strings E and A. This pair of strings, A and D and there you have power chords.