An Intro to Power Chords


Note- a sign in music used to show the relative pitch of a sound. Notes are represented by the letters A through G with some modifications added. The 12 classifications of pitches in Western Music are as follows- A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab.

Chord- three or more different notes played simultaniously

Interval- the distance or difference between two pitches

Semitone/Half step- the smallest interval in western music.  On the guitar the distance of one semitone is the same as one fret.  For example,  the 6th string, 5th fret (A) is one semitone lower than the 6th string, 6th fret (A#).

Whole tone/Whole step- an interval that spans two scale degrees. On the guitar the distance of one semitone is the same as the distance of two frets. For example, the 6th string, 5th fret (A) is a whole tone lower than the 6th string, 7th fret (B).

Sharp- represented as a #. A sharp means you take the base note and raise it a semitone. For example, A# is one semitone(one fret) higher than A.

Flat– represented as a b. A flat means you take the base note and lower it a semitone. For example, Ab is one semitone lower than A.

Octave- the interval between two sounds where one has twice the frequency of the other.  For example, the 6th string, 5th fret (A) is one octave lower than the 4th string, 7th fret (A).


Each fret on the guitar represents a note.  Though many great guitarists have not known the notes on their fretboard, you should. Learning music theory will form a foundation for your playing and will help to remove a lot of the guesswork.  The easiest way to learn the notes on the fretboard is to just sit down and memorize them. This picture is a great tool to use. 


 Finally, lets get to playing.  Power chords consist of a root note and its fifth.  A fifth is an interval of seven semitones.  Since we already defined a chord as three notes played simultaniously, a power chord is technically not a chord because it is only made up a root and a fifth and sometimes the root played an octave higher.  So power chords is actually a big misnomer.  A power chord is represented by the root note followed by a 5.  So an A power chord would be represented as A5.  There are two basic forms of power chord that we will concern ourselves with for this lesson. They are shown below in the tab.  The f represents any fret that you want, and the (f+2) represents the fret that you picked plus 2 semitones.

Form 1                              


  Form 1 example (A5)


Form 2                   


Form 2 example (D5)


There are many ways that you can finger these chords.  Always use your index finger to fret the note on the 6th string for form 1 and the 5th string for form 2. In the examples your index finger would fret the 5th fret for both forms 1 and 2.  The other two notes can be fretted with an finger or fingers that feel comfortable to you. I would strongly recommend though that you use you ring and pinkie fingers.  That will help you build up strength in those fingers that you will need later on.


Rock You Like A Hurricane Scorpions

Rock You Like A Hurricane

This is the main riff to the song. It uses only power chords. Start off slow and make sure all of the notes ring clearly. Then slowly increase the speed.  If you have any questions e-mail me at

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3 Responses

  1. Great job on these guitar lesson!!

    Glad i found your page!


  2. […] Exercises- 7 MORE John Petrucci Riffs to Boost TechniqueGuitar Finger Exercises Pt.1: The SpiderAn Intro to Power ChordsPinky Strengthening Exercisesthe spiderSteve Morse Alternate Picking […]

  3. […] A Intro to Power Chords […]

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