What Are Power Chords?
Power chords are used quite often in rock and heavy metal music on electric guitars, but you can also hear them in other types of music. Technically speaking, power chords are not true chords. A chord is made up of 3 or more notes. Power chords are only made up of 2 different notes.
Before you can fully understand what a power chord is, let us take a look at a true major chord. A major chord is made up of the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of its corresponding major scale.
For example, let us look at the C Major Scale. The C Major Scale is made up of the following notes:
To play a C Major Chord, we will need to play the 1st , 3rd and 5th notes of the C Scale, which are: C E & G
As you can see from this diagram the C Major Chord is only made up of the notes C E & G
Let’s do one more. Let’s take a look at the A Major Scale.
The notes of the A Major Scale are:
To play the A Major Chord, we will need to play the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of this scale, which are: A C# & E
As you can see from the diagram below the A Major Chord only uses the notes A C# & E
Now to play Power Chords, you only play the 1st and 5th notes of the scale. Let’s look at both a Major Chord and a Power Chord side by side to help illustrate this point.
We know that a C Major Chord is made up of the notes C, E and G, so to play a C Power chord, we would only play the notes C and G as C is the 1st note of the C Major Scale and G is the 5th note of the C Major Scale.
Be careful with power chords. Power chords are enjoyable and easy to play, but because they are so easy to play, beginners often get too caught up in them and neglect learning the real chords. Don’t do this! Learning real chords is very important to your growth as a guitar player.
Power Chords Chart
Below you will find side by side comparisons of true chords vs. power chords so that you can see the difference.
Video Lessons on Power Chords
So now that you have read over my little introduction to power chords and looked over the diagrams, I thought perhaps a few video lessons from YouTube would help strengthen your understanding .
Video 1: Power Chords Part 1 JustinGuitar.Com
Learn how to play Power Chords in this two part lesson. This part covers Power Chords with a 6th string root note. You will learn about muting the strings and about root notes too.
Video 2: Power Chords Part 2 JustinGuitar.com
Learn how to play Power Chords in this two part lesson. This part covers Power Chords with a 5th string root note. You will learn about muting the 6th string and more about root notes too.
These videos were created by one of my favorite guitar teachers on YouTube, Justin Sandercoe. Justin is an excellent teacher.
I highly recommend you visit Justin’s YouTube Profile for more awesome video lessons like the ones below:
Be sure to also check out his website by following the link below. On Justin’s site you can learn more about him as well as find more great lessons!