Things You Need to Know About Power Chords

Power chords are one of the most popular ideas on guitar. They're used by guitarists in almost every style of music. However, most guitar players are not familiar with a lot of the details surrounding the power-chord...

Details like; the theory of Perfect Intervals, optional shapes for power chord patterns on the neck, or ways that the interval of the power chord can be used in licks and in riffs.... 


In this lesson, we're going to run through a number of these ideas and make you better equipped with the use of the power chord on guitar. So, let's get started on this episode of the "Guitar Blog Insider," covering the "Things You Need to Know About Power Chords."

Let's begin by quickly discussing what a Power Chord actually is. This term "Power Chord" refers to the use of the Perfect 5th interval. And, the Perfect 5th interval is a part of a group of other perfect intervals that are very balanced in their sound.

In fact, when Perfect intervals are struck, they project a uniform impression of tone, almost as if there were only a single tone existing, rather than two separate tones played together.

For example; the perfect group of intervals includes; Unisons and Octaves; the Perfect 4th and the Perfect 5th. When played, you can tell these are very balanced when they're struck together.

However, listen to the difference that a Major 3rd sound has in relation. Or how a Minor 6th interval sounds. After player other intervals, (Major and Minor for example), you can tell, the Perfect class of interval is far more balanced sounding compared to the other classes of Major and Minor. This can make for a big difference in sound when the perfect intervals are applied musically.

Next, I want to explore power chord layouts on the neck. The power chord is a very simple interval, since it only involves taking a starter tone, (what we'll call our root), and then traveling away from that root (five scale steps).

In the Major Scale, that would equal, two tones, a semi-tome and another tone. That's 7 half-steps. From a Root note of "A" that would take us up to an "E." From a "Bb" a Perfect 5th would take us up to an "F."

Play through the most common shapes for the power chord. These shapes make up some of the most popular shapes played in all kinds of styles of music.

Along with the Power-chord shapes on the neck, another really interesting area where the power-chords 5th interval can come alive in our playing is with the 5th interval being used within both licks and riffs.

The sound created with this Perfect 5th interval approach is pretty cool. Mostly because of the strength of the impact that the 5th interval has upon our listener. For example, check out this 5th interval sliding lick that I've got for ya, it travels along the upper two guitar strings.

Lick #1). Upper two strings, 5th's ascending position shifting lick

Next, we'll go and flip that 5th interval around, creating a similar lick that still applies all the strength of our Perfect 5th (Power chord) interval.

Lick #2). String skipped 5th's sliding lick (4th and 2nd strings)

The application of power-chord concepts (and the Power-chords foundational interval, the Perfect 5th), are abundant in music. And, the application of this popular sound on guitar is by no means limited to its typical use in Rock, and Heavy Metal music.

The Power-chord shape on the neck and the use of the Perfect 5th interval can go a long way in many different music styles. So, take some time to learn how to view the power chord patterns that we've introduced here, and spend time practicing how to take them into all of the different directions that we've discussed throughout this video.

The power-chord and the use of the Perfect fifth interval are a great sound with all types of really cool stylistic applications. Even if you only learn a couple of new Power-chord ideas, I'm sure you'll enjoy adding them into your next riff or guitar solo.

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Thanks again and we'll catch up next week , for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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