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Home : Basics : Power Chords
"Power chords" are the most common shapes used in rock and electric guitar playing. Power chords are typically notated in music by the number "5" placed after a letter name.  Below are the diagrams for each of the movable power chord shapes:

(diagram)

Each shape contains two required notes. The parenthesized note in each shape is optional.  You don't need to play the optional note - leave it out, and the chord will sound basically the same (try it - the added note is a doubled "octave" note - it doesn't change the basic sound of the chord). Most beginning guitarists play the two finger versions of power chords until they are proficient. Use the pointer finger and either the 3rd or 4th finger (pinky) to play the shapes. Try to mute the "x"'d out strings by laying the left hand index finger lightly on them. Also, try not to strum those strings with the right hand.

Power chords are movable, which means they can be played at any fret on the guitar. They produce the same characteristic sound at each fret, only the pitch (highness or lowness) of the chord changes depending upon where it is placed. The shapes below are all the same, only the fret has changed. In the following examples, the diagrams and tablature indicate the exact same shapes:

(diagrams, and tab for power chords)

Power chords provide the fundamental sound of rock and electric rhythm guitar. The shapes produce the characteristic growling electric guitar sound used in most kinds of popular music. If you want to be able to play any type of rock or popular music, you
should be completely familiar with the above fingering patterns. If you play in a rock band, or if you want to play tunes that are popular, you will likely spend 70%-90% of your time playing these shapes!

Below are some examples of made from power chords, to help you practice. Learn these examples, and you will be will on your way to recognizing tablature patterns and common guitar sounds in rock and popular music:

(examples)

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