Power Chords

Power chords- the staple of hard rock and heavy metal.  By cranking up the distortion, these little, two note intervals are a nice way to add some “meat” to a rock & roll song.

Power chords are very simple two note chords that consist of the “root” and the “fifth” interval. If fact, because they only contain two notes, and not the three required to form a triad, power chords are not really chords at all.

Either way, they’re fun, easy to play, and a “must know” tool for all guitar players.

Today we will look at how to play power chords on the 5th and 6th strings.

Power Chords on the 5th & 6th Strings

The easiest guitar chord in the world the E5 chord. It consists of two notes – E & B – and what makes this chord so easy is that only one of those notes needs to be fretted.


As you can see, this chord is made up of only the notes on the 2nd fret of the 5th string (B), and the open 6th (E) string.

Nothing could be simpler and if you’ve never played guitar before this is a great place to start.

The key thing to remember with these power chords is that they can be easily located and identified by just memorizing the “pattern” or “shape” of the fingering.

The above TAB illustrates the E5 chord, which is played in an open position, but it’s easier to see the “pattern” of these power chords by looking at a chord played in a higher position on the neck.

For example, let’s look at a G5 power chord. Here’s the fingering:


The G5 power chord is made up of the root note (G) on the 3rd fret of the 6th string, and the 5th interval of G, which is a D note, played on the 5th fret of the 5th string.

This is the “pattern” or “shape” that is important to memorize. All power chords played on the 5th & 6th strings are formed by playing a root note on the 6th string (usually with the 1st finger), and the other note is played two frets up (a whole step) on the 5th string (usually with the 3rd finger).

This makes locating a power chord fairly easy if you know the notes on the 6th string.

In the above example, the lowest note of the chord (which is the “root” note) is played on the 3rd fret of the 6th string (G), so you now know that this is a G power chord, or G5.

If you slide that chord up a whole step (2 frets) you wind up with this:


Now the root note of the chord is on the 5th fret of the 6th string which is an A note, making this an A power chord, or an A5 chord. This same principle applies to all locations up and down the neck.

If you just remember this chord fingering “pattern” you can then apply it to any note on the 6th string and figure out how to play nearly any power chord, in any key that you desire.

Are you a busy adult who is trying to juggle the demands of life and trying to learn guitar at the same time?  30 year guitar veteran Keith Dean has a fantastic course geared for busy adults who want to learn to play guitar.  Click the banner to learn more.