Once you have mastered your open chords or would like to take a break from them, you can proceed to work on your closed power chords. Once you get the open chords down you can focus on learning power chords & creating rhythm.
Closed power chords.
Closed power chords are very much like your open power chords, it’s just that now your playing two strings where neither one is open. These are going to be then next chords in your vocabulary to learn because they are played with two fingers instead of just one. Your index finger and your ring finger. Or the pinky if you prefer. Everyone plays a bit different.
I recommend you use the first and third fingers as this is more standard and will leave your pinky open to add chord embellishments later when you learn to form chords using three and four fingers. But for now, we’ll just stick with two.
What’s great about these chords is two things.
The chord shape always stays the same no matter where you’re at on the fretboard.
They allow you to move up and down the fretboard, unlike the open power chords that stay at the second fret.
This allows you to unlock many mysteries of the guitar and rock guitar songs by playing chords of this type. Most rock songs ever written, mostly use or have used these types of chords. So make sure you take some time to learn how to form them and then learn how to move them around the fretboard.
When learning to form power chords you will need to stretch your fingers a bit. Because this chord shape is created by two fingers on two strings with a fret in between them. And once you learn this to form this chord, you will need to keep this shape when moving it around the fretboard. Be sure to watch the video lesson on how this is done.
These chord types are not the easiest to form as a beginner, but with a little consistent effort on a daily basis, you will begin to see some progress and that is when the fun starts to happen. And as with all things, you must be patient and not give up. If you stick with it, your reward will be all the cool rock songs you’ll be able to play.
Reading power chords in tablature format.
In addition to watching me form them in the video lesson, it is very beneficial that you learn how to read them in the written tablature as well. This will give you more of a rounded education, a step up on most guitar players (most don’t read sheet music) and a more enhanced learning experience. Heres some examples of what power chords look like in tablature format.
This is a G power chord. Where the first finger (index) is on the sixth string third fret and the third finger (ring) is on the fifth string fifth fret. Remember in guitar sheet music your biggest string will be on the bottom.
This is a D power chord played on the fifth string. The first finger is on the fifth string fifth fret and the third finger is on the fourth string seventh fret. The D power chord is played on the fifth and fourth strings and provides a bit of a brighter sound than the G chord formed on the sixth string.
Above is an A power chord played on the fourth string. Using the first finger on the fourth string seventh fret and the third finger on the third string ninth fret. Since this chord is played on the fourth string, we will consider it a Root four A power chord. Because the root of the chord (which is an A note) is located on the fourth string.
Always remember (I can’t stress this enough) that the strings in the sheet music are upside down. I know it can be confusing. Sorry but I didn’t create it, I just teach it 🙂 Anyway, now that we know how to form a few chords, let’s look into how to create the rhythm with those chords.
Creating a rhythm with power chords.
This can be done with proper timing and emotion. When creating a rhythm with power chords playing rock music you want to start out with a simple 1 2 3 4 count. Because this is the most common timing of rock music.
Listen to bands like AC/DC. They use this timing in almost all they’re songs. You can tap your foot to the beat and follow along to the music. It is simple and effective. Then once you get the initial timing of rock music down, you can create more complex rhythms. But in the beginning, keep it simple.
What this does is creates the internal clock that all musicians must have and by focusing on improving your timing by counting (to yourself or out loud) you begin to develop this very important skill set. I can’t begin to tell you how many musicians I’ve met who have not developed proper timing.
Additional counts to use when creating rhythm.
Here are a few more to experiment with:
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.
1 2 & 3 4.
1 2 3 & 4
Any of these examples will produce a nice rhythm and if you work with them enough, you’ll begin to discover other ones you can create as well. Think of how creative you can be with just these four numbers. Look at our number system 0-9 and all the endless possibilities that we can come up with. Even though you’re just using four numbers, the concept is the same.
Once you work with these counts you’ll begin to recognize familiar parts of songs you already know. So practice these rhythm counts while moving your power chords up, down and around the guitar fretboard. That way you will develop your internal clock and be on your way to becoming a good solid rhythm guitar player. Which is vitally important.
Moving your power chords is essential to learn. Make sure to lift your fingers slightly off the fretboard but keep them on the strings and play only the two strings that the chord is made of. The rest of the strings try to mute with your fretboard hand. This will keep unplayed strings from vibrating and causing unwanted sound. This will allow you to produce a cleaner, rich guitar tone.
Playing rock guitar, there are certain techniques that are associated with it that you will need to master. This takes time. But with the proper training, it won’t take as much time as you think. That is why I wrote Rock Guitar 101. A simple step-by-step method on getting started playing rock guitar.
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Until our next lesson, take care.
Sincerely, Dwayne Jenkins