Frequently Asked Questions

Zakk Wylde

How do I strum power chords? Why do I struggle to strum power chords? How can I strum power chords without playing the other strings?

We get asked this question a lot, in different ways, because strumming power chords can seem difficult or strange if you're used to playing open chords.

When strumming power chords, you want to play only two or three strings that you are fretting and not the other (open) strings. You will often also want to strum quite fast and very rhythmically.

The answer to achieving the right technique for playing power chords relies on several simple points:
1) Use a fairly heavy pick and hold it firmly.
2) Keep your forearm stiff and play play by rotating the wrist and hand only, not by moving your arm as you would with open chords. You can steady your hand by resting your forearm against the body of the guitar.
3) Use downstrokes only. This is not 100% true, but if you start with only downstrokes you will learn the right technique and when you are more practiced you can try adding upstrokes where needed.

You need to keep the amount of movement of your pick very short. To practice, start off playing the sixth string only, using short firm downstrokes of your pick. When you've got used to the feel of playing a single string in a rock rhythm extend the downstroke to play the two strings of our power chord.

Good luck, and remember... strumming power chords is very easy with a little practice, but is a totally different technique from playing open chords.

Power Chord C5

OK, this is the most popular power chord song in our poll!

Here's how to play that iconic Green Day riff... for absolute beginners!

It comprises the basic power chord shape played on the 6th/5th string (E root) and on the 5th/4th string (A root).
Remember, wherever you play your basic power chord shape, your third finger is one string lower and two frets along from your first finger!

Each chord is strummed twice at a fairly low pace, so it's a great beginners practice song. Start off very slowly and gradually build up to playing speed, repeating again and again until the changes are smooth.

Guitar Chords for main riff of Holiday by Green Day

Here's the chord positions and their names:
5th string, 8th fret - F5 chord
6th string, 9th fret = C#5 chord
5th string, 11th fret = G#5 chord
6th string, 11th fret = Eb5 chord
(This describes the position of your first finger)

Basically just play each of those chords in the order listed and you'll be playing Holiday! Take care with your strumming, so that you're just hitting the fretted strings in each case.

Here's a short-hand notation, using String/Fret...
5/8 x2
6/9 x2
5/11 x2
6/11 x2
Repeat the whole riff 3 times then play... 6/8 x 8 (this is a C5 chord).

Note for absolute beginners:
# means "sharp", which is one fret higher than the regular note.
b means "flat", which is one fret lower than the regular note.
The "5" after the note name just means it's a power chord.

An inverted power chord is one where the 5th note is played higher than the root note.

For example, a regular power chord of G5 is played like this:
3 5 x x x x

The G (root note) is played on 6th string, 3rd fret.
The D (fifth note) is played on the 5th string, 5th fret.

An "inverted" G5 power chord uses the same notes (G and D), but with the G played as the higher note of the pair.
- D G
x 5 5 x x x

In this case,
The D (fifth note) is played on the 5th string, 5th fret.
The G (root note) is played on 4th string, 5rd fret (an octave higher than regular)

If playing a 3-note power chord then both the G (root note) positions are used, thus:

3 5 5 x x x

It's all a little confusing for the beginner, but just remember... if it contains the root note and the fifth note and no other notes, then it's a power chord!

How to play a power chord of E (E5)

Beginners sometimes think that F5 is the lowest power chord that can be played on the 5th & 6th strings of the guitar. But an E power chord is easily played using the 3rd finger only (on the 5th string, 2nd fret), with the 6th string is played open.

Although you are only fretting one note, it is best to keep the basic hand shape the same, with your Power Chord Trainer in place and your third finger playing the B note. This means that you can easily slide up to the next chord you want to play and your fingers will be ready!

Power Chord C5

By applying a firm but gentle outward force between the first and third fingers, Power Chord Trainer simply helps you to achieve the required finger spacing that so many beginners struggle with.

As you move chord position up the neck of your guitar, there is a natural tendency to squeeze the fingers together. With the Power Chord Trainer fitted, it counteracts this and helps to guide your fingers to keep the fret spacing you need.

As you return to chord positions down the neck toward the head of the guitar, Power Chord Trainer helps to expand the finger spacing to keep you on track with these chords.

Practicing with Power Chord Trainer gives you confidence to move the power chord shape around the fretboard, developing muscle memory until you no longer need it!

Power Chord Trainer can also be used to develop the muscles in the fingers to aid other guitar playing styles too, from classical to shredding!

Power Chord Trainer currently only available online, for direct worldwide delivery with low postage charges.

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Heavy Metal guitarist rocks

No. Although mainly associated with heavy rock, power chords are used in many other genres too and can also be a good introduction to playing full barre chords.

Listen to old Beatles songs like Helter Skelter and Hey Bulldog for good examples of pop songs that can use power chords.

Yes, no problem here!

Playing left-handed has the same problems and same solutions as playing right handed.

The Power Chord Trainer will work just fine on your right hand if you're a lefty.

Yes! Although designed primatily for learning and practicing power chords, the Power Chord Trainer also helps with the s-t-r-e-t-c-h that is needed for playing barre chords.

Although power chords are mostly associated with electric guitars, but they can also be played on acoustics and are a good introduction to other "movable chords" such as barre chords.

Power Chord Trainer helps you to get your head - and your fingers - around the finger positioning for moveable power chords, which can seen very strange if you're used to playing basic open chords.

Whether you play electric or acoustic guitar, Power Chord Trainer will help your guitar playing progress past playing open chords on the first few frets and you will soon be experimenting with moveable chords in different fret positions all the way up the neck!

Some guitar players tell us they also use their Power Chord Trainer in imaginative ways, between different fingers, to help them learn difficult jazz or barre chord fingerings like 7ths played with the pinky (4th) finger.