Power Chord mayhem
Power chords are a big part of playing guitar. Especially if you are into playing heavy metal and want to shred. They are also used in other genres but these chords are known for being played with (high gain distortion) and at high decibel levels.
So crank it up!
You should start off with power chords when learning guitar if you’re new. If your’e not, you should be able to shred and come up with riffs on the fly at high speeds with these chords.
They only have 2 notes but those notes can be repeated.
That being said, power chords are movable as well. They can be moved around the neck to any fret you wish. If you are a songwriter you will want to know which chords belong to which key so that you sound like you know what you are doing as well as sound TIGHT.
TIGHT is the name of the game. You want to sound tight. I cannot enforce that enough when it comes to power chords.
You can however, switch keys. But, this requires some preliminary knowledge.
Lets get started learning these chords and the possibilities they offer…
Learning the chords:
Learn the chords and implement them into your practicing schedule when you practice chords. Learn them on the low strings as well as the high strings. Learn your power chords all over the neck.
They are invaluable and are easy to play. They are also very useful when shredding and playing chugging heavy metal riffs.
They are a great way to get warmed up too so check out the warmup below.
The following riff, however; is simply to get your fingers going with 16th notes. Its a riff in F Major. Feel free to use any other riff you want though. I post this one just to give you an idea.
If you don’t have any other one that you’d rather practice then use this one. Its nice and deep at the lower end of the guitar. If you palm mute these bad boys they will surely sound HEAVY.
Another thing you can do is move up and down and across the entire neck. Get familiar with them. Know their names and be able to repeat them out loud without even thinking about them. You will be using them a lot if you want to shred .
Most of all though, have some fun when you practice.
The first chord is an F5. It contains the notes F C and F again. Thats why its a power chord. It has the root and the 5th only. They can be repeated. The second chord is G5 and has the notes G and D. The 3rd chords is A5 which has the notes A and E and the 4th chord is a Bb which contains Bb and F.
Try this progression out and practice it until you can play it clean at high speed. No extra string noise can be present. None of the strings on the high end can ring out meaning strings 1, 2 and 3 cannot sound whatsoever. If you can play this at 100 bpm you’re off to a good start. Try and take it up to 150 or higher.
After you can play this cleanly you also want to try and palm mute the power chords. Slightly put your palm at the top of your bridge (ever so slightly) so that you dampen the sound.
The chord must ring out when you’re palm muting. When you’re palm is in the right place you should here a nice low end. IF you are too high on the string it will kill the note, thus killing the chord and you don’t want that.
So for a quick recap: play the power chords in the pdf with no palm muting until you get them clean as a whistle, then practice them with the palm muting technique.
Remember its your right hand on top of the string and the bridge at the same time (ever so slightly).
If you palm mute too hard you will get a sound that is not very pleasing. Thats how you know you’re palm muting is not being executed in the right way.
Power Chords on the Higher Strings
If you didn’t know these, nows your chance. They can add depth as a 2nd guitar or even 3rd, and you can also take the notes from these chords and use them on a keyboard or other instrument. So they are very useful to know.
Layering guitar parts is one way to give you a nice fat sound. Not only do they sound cool they can help you navigate the neck when creating solos. Don’t skimp on these.power-chords-on-the-high-strings
Power Chords Warmup
I use this warmup frequently to get me comfortable across the neck. Use it to a metronome and don’t be afraid to spend some time with this. They will give you strength and agility, as well as dexterity.
You will be working your right hand technique as well as your left hand if you strictly use downstrokes aka Downpicking (Think James Hatfield)
Also, you will come up/ or can use these chords for some cool chromatic riffs a la Dimebag or Scott Ian. They can be inserted in between some of your older riffs to give it an extra heavy shred-like sound.
There’s nothing like dissonance when it comes to shred. We will learn more about dissonance in another lesson. It basically means tension, as in the second chord in E minor in the pdf below entitled “Chords in E Minor.”power-chords-perfect-4ths-up-and-down-the-neck
Power Chords in E Minor
These are the power chords in the key of E Minor. I added the ii chord which has a flat 5th (dissonance) – (since its not a perfect fifth between the F# and the B note…It is a flat 5th also known as the tritone).
You could get hanged in medieval times for using this interval. Nowadays they use it in jazz. 🙂 There is also an Augmented chord which has a sharp 5th and belongs to E (Harmonic Minor). You can use both if you wish when writing riffs.
The chords are as follows:e-minor-power-chords
To Learn all your power chords, in every key go here: