How often do you search for the tab of your favorite track and come across a page filled with challenging power chords?
For some reason, years ago in the realm of TAB, someone decided to make power chords difficult to play by creating all power chords as three-finger formations.
I have no idea why they did this, as you will soon discover… Two of the notes in the formation have the same letter name.
Since two of the notes in the three-note power chord share the same letter name, it doesn’t create additional harmony. To simplify it, you can effectively remove one of these notes and create a more streamlined two-finger power chord shape.
The Two-Finger Power Chord:
After much trial and error, guitarists found that the best and most “powerful” sound was produced by playing two notes together, hence the name “power chord.” Technically, a chord consists of three different notes played together, but music often requires unique and unconventional terminology to describe certain sounds.
A good example of power chords is the intro to “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple… Please note that these are two-note power chords often incorrectly played as three-note power chords.
The Root and the Fifth:
The two notes that create the strongest effect are the root and the fifth notes.
Here are some examples for you to try:
In the key of G: G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G
The first note is “G,” and the fifth note is “D.” When these two notes are played together, they create a “G” power chord.
Power chords are often denoted with a number 5 after the letter name, such as G5, which is another way of writing a “G” power chord.
Here is an example in the key of D:
In the key of D: D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D
The first note is “D,” and the fifth note is “A.” When these two notes are played together, they create a “D” power chord.
And another example in the key of A:
In the key of A: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A
The first note is “A,” and the fifth note is “E.” When these two notes are played together, they create an “A” power chord.
Two-Note Power Chord vs. Three-Note Power Chord:
The notes in a two-note G5 chord are G and D.
The notes in a three-note G5 chord are G, D, and G.
Can you see the duplication?
So, don’t make things difficult for yourself… Carrying that extra note all over the fingerboard is like pulling an elephant up a hill. Keep it simple and play the two-note version—it will sound much better.
Manuel Marino is a seasoned Senior Producer, Music Composer, and Artist with over a decade of experience. He specializes in branded entertainment across various mediums, including video games, films, and advertising campaigns. With 20+ years as a game music composer, Manuel has worked on numerous platforms, creating diverse orchestral soundtracks. HIRE ME