Guitar Power Chords

An Introduction to the Power Chord

The electric guitar is undeniably the basis for a very large amount of modern music. The distorted electric guitar produces a sound that is at once highly appealing and very harmonically full meaning that a very big sound can be produced by a pretty small line up.

If you want to get into playing Rock, Metal, Punk or Pop music then there is one crucial tool in your guitar arsenal with which you can create or recreate music effortlessly and very musically. That tool is the Power Chord.

As its name implies, the Power Chord is two things. Firstly it is a Chord - that means that it is more than one note being played simultaneously. For a basic power chord that simply means two strings - but if you want a really full and fat sound then you need to play three strings. The second thing about a Power Chord is that it is powerful...

However - it sounds pretty flat without a choice selection of effects - at the very least a distortion pedal. A distortion sound can be fattened up nicely with a bit of delay (echo) and some choice EQ settings. For the classic Metal sound you need to remove a lot of the mid (known as scooping) and boost the top and bottom. This gives you the supreme combination of powerful chugging bass and tight highs that give definition and articulation.

So you want to get into Power Chords?

To start with you need to understand the shape on the fret board of the classic Power Chord. Once you know the shape, you can move it around the fret board to your hearts content to achieve every key possible. This is the real beauty of the Power Chord - itís really simple!!

Take your first finger and place it on the third fret (the first one with a dot down from the nut) of your bottom E string (the one that is at the top as you hold the guitar normally. Now take your third or second finger and place it on the fifth fret (second one with a dot) of your A string (the one next to your E string). Now simply play these two strings together - being careful not to play any of the other strings.

Ideally you should have your thumb against the back of the neck of the guitar and in effect you are pinching the strings to the fret board between your thumb and fingers. Try to get your fingers going as vertically into the fret board as possible - which will help you minimise the chance of hitting any other strings. Now - donít grip too hard - to play quickly you need to apply the minimum amount of pressure necessary whilst maintaining clearly defined notes.

Play these two strings as much as you want - you are playing a basic Power Chord. Try moving the shape up and down the frets a bit - you are now playing different keys :-) Easy - isnít it?

Now lets take it to the next level - try moving the whole shape down a string, so that your first finger is on the A string and your second (or third) finger is on the next string down (your D string). Now try moving back to the original position. Once you are comfortable with switching between strings, you are ready to start tackling a large amount of modern music. I bet you accidentally get a few Nirvana or Green Day riffs in there - have fun.

Once you are comfortable with this, you can go for the next level still and start to use three strings. This gives you a really nice, fat Power Chord - very satisfying indeed!!! To do this we are going to use your little finger.

Letís go back to putting your first finger on the third fret of your E string. Now put your third finger on the fifth fret of your A string. OK - back to the original basic Power Chord... All we are going to do now is add your little finger on the fifth fret of your D string - so it is next to your third finger on your A string. This note is one octave higher than the note that your first finger is playing. Now play all three strings together - isnít that good..?

Now simply go back to moving up and down the fret board and moving the shape up and down between the E string and the A string. Once you have fully got the hang of that - crank up the distortion, add a few extra effects and enjoy the Power Chord experience!!
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