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The Power of The 5 Chord

I received a question inquiring about the use of the power chord — the power chord is a very simple, yet very important chord to know. Don’t worry its easy, both in fingering and remembering.

For more advanced guitarist out there you probably know this stuff, I write these tutorials in response to questions that I receive.

The typical power chord contains a Root note and the 5th note.

Here is and example of the C5 (power chord)







Use your index and ring finger to hold them. Now strum – FEEL THE POWER!!!!

This pattern can be moved anywhere on the neck. 5th chords really work well in rock and metal if your using distortion, but you can even use them on a acoustic guitar if you want, the choice is yours.

There are a couple variations on the power chord

Example of C5 inversion







Bar your finger across – this is an inversion of a 5th chord the root note is on the C (3rd fret A string) but the lower note is still a 5th – just a lower tone than the root. This gives you a heavy dragging sound , If that is what your looking for

Use this idea to add some heaviness to your 5th chord

Another example of C5



G———5–(optional note)–



E———3—(add this to standard 5th)

In this case you took a normal 5th chord and added another 5th note to give it some heavy sound – this example combines the first example and the inversion . You can really beef up your sound if you use this correctly. Now your talking heavy metal , add some distortion and your all set.

Yet another variation – this one is not commonly used – is the root and 3rd




D——-2–(fret 1 if minor)



This is sort of like a power chord and is a major dyad – by moving the third to the next fret lower you get a minor dyad. I have never really used these in playing a whole lot, but it is nice to know the idea is there. You may want to come up with your own ideas.

One more thing I want to cover here is Palm Muting – it gives your playing a Chug Chug sound for these chords. Take your pick hand lightly place it on the strings and down stroke the power chord.

Well there you have it – a simple breakdown on the 5th chords . Chord theory is very complex and you could easily write a book just covering the topic of the power chords. Hope that I answered your question and gave you a few ideas.

© Brad Corpus 2005

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