How to Play Power Chords

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By the end of this lesson you’ll not only know how to play power chords on guitar, but you’ll understand them as well.

Let’s dive in and learn about rock n’ roll’s most popular chord.

Playing power chords.

As a general rule, power chords are played with the index (1) and ring (3) fingers on the fretting hand. This is shown in the chord chart below.

Your index finger plays the root note, which gives the power chord its name.

E5 Power Chord at the 7th fret A string

Power chords can also be played with 3 fingers, where the pinky is playing the octave from the root note.

You’re still only using two notes, E and B, but the E note is played twice to give the chord a “bigger” sound.

E5 Power Chord Using 3 fingers at the 7th fret A string

Power chords may also be played in the open position.

E5 Power Chord Open Position

Understanding Power Chords

What are Power Chords?

Power chords are 2-note chords, and contain only a root and a fifth.

The lack of a major 3rd or minor 3rd gives a power chord a neutral sound neither major nor minor.

While they are most commonly found in rock music, they are also very useful in other genres for accompanying soloists.

Power Chord symbol

A power chord symbol is written as “root note + “5”.

For example, an E power chord is written as E5.

Finding power chord shapes on the guitar

You can make any power chord by identifying and playing the root note with your index finger, then moving down 1 string and up 2 frets to play the 5th.

This same idea works for open strings, but you’ll use your index finger to play the 5th.

This only works for finding power chords on the E, A, and D strings.

Are power chords easy?

Power chords are easy to play because they only have 2 notes! These 2 notes are only 2 frets apart on the fretboard, and they’re on adjacent strings.

Summary: How to play power chords

Learning how to play power chords is a valuable step for advancing on guitar.

Practice playing power chords on all frets, and learn the names of popular power chords. This will become easier as you learn songs that use power chords.

Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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