POW­ER­CHORDS

For big, clear chords that pack a punch, strike a rock pose with this TG les­son

Total Guitar - - HOW TO -

“What’s the deal with pow­er­chords – how are they dif­fer­ent from other chords?”

A chord is two or more notes played at the same time. Some chords have as many as six notes and use ev­ery string on the gui­tar. A pow­er­chord is a two- or three-note chord. They have their name be­cause they have a big, pow­er­ful sound. A pow­er­chord is writ­ten as a let­ter name fol­lowed by the num­ber five. The first note is the same as the let­ter in the chord name (this is called the root note). Ex­am­ple 1’s first chord has an E root note and the sec­ond note is five notes above this. In this case this it is a B note. This is why it’s called an E5 chord.

“But I al­ready play chords with way more than two notes, why do th­ese puny two-note chords sound more pow­er­ful?”

Well, big­ger isn’t al­ways bet­ter. Six-note chords can sound messy and lack clar­ity, espe­cially when the gui­tar has a dis­torted tone. This can be good for some styles but not for oth­ers. Pow­er­chords work well be­cause they pro­vide a big, yet clear sound that’s per­fect for heav­ier styles.

“Okay, okay, enough the­ory! Where can I hear them?”

They are ev­ery­where. There are very few styles of mu­sic that don’t use pow­er­chords in one way or another, but they are most pop­u­lar in rock and metal. One of the ear­li­est ex­am­ples is The Kinks mega-hit YouReal­lyGotMe. You can also check them out on the metal clas­sic Para­noid by Black Sab­bath and Al­lTheS­mal­lThings by pop-punk vet­er­ans Blink-182.

“I get it... they are ev­ery­where, so how do I get in on the ac­tion?”

It’s easy, all you need are two fin­gers... and a gui­tar. The great thing about pow­er­chords is that a sin­gle shape can be moved up and down the neck. Sim­ply lock your fin­gers into the pow­er­chord shape and shift your hand as a unit to each dif­fer­ent fret. Check and make sure that your thumb doesn’t drag be­hind as this will slow your changes.

“Splen­did. I want more, though. What can I do?”

Well, you can make the pow­er­chord sound fuller by adding the root note an oc­tave higher. This means you play three strings rather than two. You can ei­ther barre your third fin­ger across the two high­est-sound­ing strings or play them with your third and fourth fin­gers. Th­ese three-string chords aren’t nec­es­sar­ily bet­ter than the two-string ver­sions. Ex­per­i­ment with them and see which you pre­fer each time you use them.

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