"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln
I love power chords. They are the easiest chords to play, carry the most punch, and you can use them in virtually any situation and style. Plus, they are the meat and bones of rock: just two notes spawned one of the most incredible music styles in Human history so far.
With that in mind for this lesson, I'll show you the many ways you can play power chords so that you can add them to your arsenal and start blowing everyone's heads off with your playing.
Like Abe Lincoln said, let's see what you can play once you claim some Power.
You can watch the video below or continue reading for more details. Don't forget to check out the infographic at the bottom for a quick reference, as well as gain access to the source file with the examples (you'll need Guitar Pro for this).
Although a power chord consists of just two notes (the root note and the 5th interval), we can play them using all the way from two to 6 strings.
1) Two-string power chord without octave
For this position, we'll play the regular power chord shape without the octave, so that means we'll play the root note and the 5th.
This shape is very simple and easy to play, in addition to being quite fast to move around the neck, so that makes it very versatile.
Of course, you can not only play it with the root on the 6th string, but in the 5th and 4th strings as well.
2) Two-string power chord without root (power chord hack)
This shape is the fastest of all, and is frequently used when you play riffs that involve fast changing chords, although you can also use them whenever the fingering of a specific part makes it difficult to move the entire hand. Because it does not have the root note, it sounds less powerful, so use it carefully whenever you want to emphazise a specific chord.
For better ease of use, hold both string with a small barre with just one finger (usually the index or ring fingers).
You can play this variant virtually anywhere on the fretboard.
3) Two-string power chord with drop tuning
Visually, this shape is exactly the same as the last one.
This is a very used chord with players that use drop tunings, for example, drop D (which tunes the guitar to DADGBE, changing the 6th string note from an E down to D). In this tuning, playing the 6th and 5th string in the same fret will have you playing a root and a 5th interval, which makes it the same notes as you would with playing the first figure we saw (the two-string power chord without the octave).
This combines the speed of playing the hacked power chords with the fuller sound of a regular power chord with the root note. Just like the previous shape, you can optionally use a single finger by making a small barre.
Tip: you can also play it as a three-string power chord, although it is more difficult (but very rewarding).