What is the strumming technique for playing power chords?

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.

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