Power chords are an interesting set of chords that have found favor with rock guitarists – as well as many players in other genres (such as blues). There are lots of reasons for this popularity and the aim of this article is to give you a complete power chord chart – and all the information you need to play any and all of them with just a slide of your finger(s) (literally! :D ). First, though, let me spend a couple paragraph giving you all the good things about these chords (and a little background) that will make understanding them even easier.

From a technical point of view, power chords aren’t even chords at all. By “proper definition”, a chord is comprised of 3 or more notes and – minimally – power chords use only two. For this reason you can play any power chord with just two fingers (one finger if you use Drop D tuning – which I’ll get into later ;) ).

From a musical standpoint, power chords are useful because they are “ambiguous”. This means that – due to their simplicity and lack of that third note that would qualify them as a chord – they can fill in for major chords, minor chords, and all the rest. From a listening point of view, a power chord will derive its sound from the context of the music (i.e. in a sad song it will sound minor, etc.). Combine that with how awesome they sound with distortion – and how easy they are to play – and you can see the reason for their popularity! Now, we’ll get you playing them! ;)

How to Play Power Chords In Standard Tuning

I mentioned earlier that you can play power chords with just one finger if you use Drop D tuning. That being said, most novices learn in standard tuning and are inexperienced at retuning strings (although it’s really not hard at all) so I think it’s best to talk about power chords for beginners in the tuning they’ll most like be accustomed to. If you want to jump right into the ridiculously easy one-finger way used by most rock guitarists (including me) just scroll down a bit to the Drop D section.

In standard tuning. power chords take one simple format that can be played in one of two ways – two-finger or three finger. Here is a power chord chart for the F Power Chord (F5) as played on the 3rd fret.

|————————————————————–| – e
|————————————————————–| – B
|————————————————————-| – G
|———————————P—————————| – D
|———————–R————————————-| – A
|—I———————————————————-| – E
1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

As shown above, you put your index finger on the 6th string (the one nearest to your chin) of the 1st fret and you ring and pinky fingers take up position on the 5th and 4th strings of the 3rd fret, respectively. Now, you just strum those 3 strings with your pick (or your fingernail or whatever) and you’ve played your first power chord! :)

You might be wondering, though, why the power chord chart above shows three fingers when I said you could play it with two? The cool thing is you can just forget about that pinky finger and play with just the index and the ring finger (except you only strum those two strings if you do that). It might take some practice to avoid hitting any other strings by accident but it’s really easy once you catch on! :)

You might also have noticed that – as shown in the diagram – a power chord is really just the top half of a barre chord! For this reason, they share a VERY useful quality with barre chords – they are move-able! This means you can just slide that chord form up and down the neck to create new power chords – all of them.

Here’s a list of power chords you can play on each fret – starting with the first!

F5, F#5, G5, G#5, A5, A#5, B5, C5, C#5, D5, D#5, E5, and back to F5 again, and so on. Now you can play any power chord you want using that shape alone! :D And now I’ll show you the easier way that most rock guitarists use – in Drop D tuning.

P.S. If you’re not interested in that, you can stop reading here but before you go take a look around the site and share this article on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc. (you’ll see the links to do that really quickly if you scroll down to the bottom of this post! :D ). I also appreciate links if you have a website! ;)

How to Play Power Chords in Drop D Tuning

First, I’ll give you a quick run-down on tuning your guitar to Drop D. Drop D tuning simply means that you re-tune (i.e. “drop”) your low E string (the one nearest you chin) down by two half-steps to a D. To do this, you simply loosen the tuning peg considerably and then tighten it again until the sound you get from fretting the SEVENTH fret of that low E string (and picking it) sounds just like the sound of your A string (the adjacent string). If you’ve done it right, you should be in Drop D tuning (and you’ll be able to tell in a minute if you have!).

Here’s the power chord chart that’s gonna show you how to play any power chord with ONE FINGER! :D

|————————————————————–| – e
|————————————————————–| – B
|————————————————————-| – G
|—M——————————————————–| – D
|—M——————————————————–| – A
|—M———————————————————-| – E
1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

There it is! :) You can just barre those three strings with your middle finger (or another finger if you prefer but middle finger is the most common – do what feels best to you!) and strum them as you would have done earlier to play an F Power Chord (F5).  I explained earlier how you can move power chords up and down the neck but let me repeat for those who skipped the standard tuning. This is a list of power chords you’ll be playing if you play this shape on each fret starting with the first.

F5, F#5, G5, G#5, A5, A#5, B5, C5, C#5, D5, D#5, E5, and back to F5 again and so on. Just slide that finger up and down the neck to the right fret and you can rock out to lots of songs! ;)

So now you can play any power chord AND you’ve learned how to tune your guitar to Drop D in one article! :D You can (and should!) share this on Facebook, Twitter, etc. with the links below (it’s really easy!) and emails to admin@ihatebarrechords.com are welcome! :P

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