Here’s How To Play Power Chords On Electric Guitar For Beginners.

Yours truly! Will Ripley (Campfire Guitar Star)

The Power Chord & “Intervals”

Back to the fun stuff!  The first chord we’re going to learn is the power chord.  It’s only 2 notes, it’s extremely versatile, and it sounds…well… powerful!  

With the G major scale fresh in mind, let me introduce to you the G5, or the “G power chord”. Remember the “Lesson-ception” concept? Here’s another lesson we can draw from that major scale.

A G5 chord consists of 2 notes – Your G (root note) combined with the 5th note of the major scale. It’s really that simple. This is a great way to understand what an “interval” is. Using your major scale, you can start to understand what major 3rds, perfect 4ths, perfect 5ths are and more. They’re just notes from the major scale that are associated or related to your first note. An interval!

To play a power chord – let’s reference the scale chart here. Play your G note with your first finger.  Then, 2 frets up and one string over, you’ll find the 5th note of the scale or “the 5th” with your third finger. When you play these 2 notes at the same time, you get a “power chord”. This is the most common way to play a power chord, but there are a few different fingerings for power chords. So let’s talk about the next most common power chord shape.

*If you’re wondering about the orange marker and your 4th (or pinky) finger isn’t on it yet, try it out!

More Lesson-Ception – “The Octave” In Power Chords, Drawn Out From Your Major Scale

This orange mark is the “octave”, or eighth note of the scale (take a look at that word – it’s got “oct” meaning 8).  It’s the same note as the first note of the major scale, just sounding higher up! This interval is called a “perfect octave”.

When you add it to your power chord, notice how it sounds just tiny bit thicker, or just subtly more ‘powerful’.  This string you’re fretting with your pinky finger is also a G, so we’re actually not adding a new note. Just stacking an additional note to fill it out a bit more.

Here Are 4 Different Finger Placements Of Power Chords That You Can Use For Powerful Results!

Have some fun with these shapes and see if you can switch 2 or 3 power chords together and make something sound musical. Try moving this exact same power chord shape over one string to the A-string. You can play this power chord shape on any fret of the guitar, starting on the E-string or the A-string!  

Another Way To Look At It:

Here are these different power chords tabbed out

*Note: these might make more sense after the “Advanced tab” section (chapter 14)

Powerful Tips For Powerful Chords:

  • Reference the last chapter on scale charts to read these chords.
  • These are visual representations of what power chords look like. It’s like your looking right down on top of the fret board. We will discuss more about chord charts in later chapters.
  • The numbers are referencing which fingers you can use.
  • Power chord #2 references the use of a “barre” with your 3rd finger – this is playing 2 notes at the same time with 1 finger (You can press on 2 strings using your 3rd finger).
  • I personally use all of these shapes and I would recommend getting used to all of them and figuring out which ones work the best for the application at hand.
  • Remember to play only the notes in the chord and not random open strings.
  • Plow your pick through all the notes simultaneously – make these chords sound full and powerful!
  • With all of this exciting new knowledge, it can be easy to forget some things. If you haven’t already, go back and review the first couple of chapters on proper technique before moving on.

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Thanks and keep on rippin it! – Will Ripley & Mike B