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Power Chords (Guitar Lesson)


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Brad Henecke

Power Chords

Brad discusses power chords in this lesson. He explains what they are and teaches some of their moveable fretboard shapes. Finally, he gives you a sweet sounding power chord progression to play.

Taught by Brad Henecke in Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke seriesLength: 13:22Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (0:55) Introduction Learning power chords is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to playing rock guitar. Power chords are found in nearly every rock song ever recorded. Why are they so effective?

Brad demonstrates the topic of this lesson. He plays a I IV V progression in the key of D using all power chords. Get your amps cranked and distortion pedals ready!
Chapter 2: (2:17) Intro to Power Chords Power chords are effective, because they sound great with distortion. They sound powerful. A full voiced barre chord may sound too muddy and thick when played with distortion or overdrive. Power chords have a tight, aggressive sound when played with the gain knob cranked. In addition, they sound great in any register. Whether they are played on a bass with distortion, or high into the guitar register, power chords get the point across. Like Brad says, “It sounds like you’re punching someone in the face.”

Music Theory
The power chord consists of only two notes. Typically, the root note is played along with the note a fifth above it. For example, watch as Brad demonstrates the E5 power chord. The first finger plays the A string at the 7th fret. The third finger frets the 9th fret of the D string. This E5 power chord consists of the note E and the fifth above it, B. Many guitarists choose to finger the power chord another way. They find it more comfortable to fret the higher string with the pinky finger. This seems to be a common trend among metal guitarists.

Since the power chord consists of only two notes, many theorists argue that it is not in fact a “chord.” To be technical, the third must be present to form a “chord.” Since the third is missing, the chord has an ambiguous sound. This type of power chord is neither major nor minor in quality.

Turn on your distortion and compare the sound of this power chord to an E barre chord in the same position. What differences do you notice? Each chord works but has its own individual tonal quality.
Chapter 3: (6:29) More Power Chords In the previous scene you learned just one possible way of playing a power chord. There are numerous possibilities when forming a power chord. Adding a different scale degree to the root can form a new power chord. For example, the note a minor or major third above the root is frequently added to the root to form a 2 note power chord.

Brad lists several of the other possible power chord options. Open the “Power Chord Crunch” under the “Supplemental Content” tab for fretboard diagrams of these chords.

Adding a variety of different notes to the root creates new power chords.
1. Start with the basic E5 shape from the last scene. The low E string can be added to this shape to give it a heavier feel. Additional notes can be added to this shape. The pinky finger frequently frets the note E on the 9th fret of the G string. Also, the open B and E strings are available additions. This gives you a chord consisting of 3 E’s and 3 B’s!

2. Lift the pinky up from the shape described in no. 1. The first finger now barres the 7th fret of the D string. This forms a power chord consisting of the notes E and A. This chord is frequently labeled as Esus4. This shape can also function as an “inverted” power chord. This means that the chord is functioning as an A5 power chord. However, the root note A is not the lowest note in the chord. In this case, the fifth (E) is the lowest note.

3. Start with the initial E5 power chord. Lift up the third finger and fret the 8th fret with the second finger. This forms the “tritone” interval. The subsequent note is a #4 or b5 above the root. This interval was thought of as evil and was subsequently avoided in medieval times. Now its evil sound is exploited by metal bands everywhere!

4. Now, combine the E note with C on the 10th fret of the D string. Fret this note with your pinky finger. C is a b6 or minor 6 interval away from the root.

5. Combine the root note with C# on the 11th fret of the D string. Fret this note with your pinky. C# is a major sixth away from the root E. This shape should seem familiar. It was used in the Shuffle rhythm for the 12 bar blues. This chord is referred to as E6 in the upcoming chord progression.

6. If you can, slide your pinky up one more fret. This forms a power chord consisting of E and D. D is a minor seventh (b7) above E.

7. Steve demonstrates the major seventh interval by sliding his pinky up another fret. However, it is much easier to play this power chord by fretting the 8th fret of the G string with the third finger. Mute the D string in between the two notes with your first finger. Stephen Carpenter of the Deftones uses and abuses this power chord shape in many of his songs.
Try to formulate your own chord progression using some of the power chord shapes discussed in this scene. Experiment with moving them up and down the fretboard. In the following scene, Brad gets you started with a basic power chord progression.
Chapter 4: (3:54) Power Chord Progression The chord progression demonstrated in this scene is in the key of E. The first four bars that comprise the first line should be repeated before moving on to the final four bars.

Begin with a basic E5 power chord shape. For now, strum the progression with a basic eighth note rhythm. (Once you have mastered all of the chord changes, go back and learn the rhythm Brad plays.) In the second measure, switch to the Esus4 power chord shape. In the next bar, switch to the E6 chord from the blues shuffle. Return to the basic E5 shape in the next bar.

The end of the fourth measure features a rapid chord change. Switch to the Esus4 chord on the last eighth note of the measure. This may take some extra practice. Watch Brad carefully to see how it’s done.

The second line of the progression continues with power chords on the low string. Move the entire E5 chord shape down a string to form the B5 chord. Then, slide the B5 chord down two frets to form A5.

Note: Click the “Supplemental Content” tab for a diagram of the chord changes in the Power Chord Progression.

Get to work on your power chords! You’ll need them to play some Van Halen and ACDC in the following lesson!

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


bcgudelybcgudely replied on February 3rd, 2014

The progression would be nice to have in the supplemental content

philmanphilman replied on June 30th, 2013

Well I liked the intros ans missing the on other lessons

benthebosbenthebos replied on March 28th, 2013

chord progression is missing from supplemental content i also agree with carindam that the rythum pattern could do with something in sup content aswell

carindamcarindam replied on September 14th, 2010

Brad Hi, what is the rhythm pattern in this lesson? can you break it up with Ups and Downs please?

halldavidrhalldavidr replied on June 10th, 2010

Hi Brad, I want to add one or two pieces of gear to my collection of gear. I own three guitars: Fender Tele, Epiphone Sheridan & Taylor 714ce Acoustic-Electric. Also two amps: one small practice amp & one medium-sized dual speaker amp. Neither amp has much in the way of effects. I play rhythm guitar in a hobby band of old guys. The four of us are all between 55-65. First gig set for Oct 2010. Looking for recommendations on what I should add to my collection of gear. Effects pedals? Performance gear? What do you think? Thanks.

raoelraoel replied on May 9th, 2010

why are the others called 6?E6 instead of just E5

john6391john6391 replied on January 27th, 2010

what are the amp settings for that intro

dlc53dlc53 replied on September 9th, 2009

Hi just joined .ypur essons are good but hor about a Stat with aTwin!!!!!!!!!!!!

hgnativehgnative replied on June 11th, 2008

brad you have some of the best lessons but please! shorten those intros 20sec to long.

jboothjbooth replied on June 12th, 2008

You can skip past any of the intro portion of the lesson by clicking the arrow that points right

kevinacekevinace replied on June 12th, 2008

Yeah we've moved away from that format a bit. Only the 'older' lessons have that type of thing.

Brad.HeneckeBrad.Henecke replied on June 11th, 2008

LOL Don’t worry they get shorter .On the older lessons we were really experimenting .

Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In this Phase 2 series Brad Henecke will school you in the art of rock guitar. You will not only learn how to play some of your favorite songs in this series, but you will also learn how to create your own.



Lesson 1

Basic Rock Guitar

This lesson covers the absolute basics of rock guitar. Learn about the electric guitar, pickups, amplifiers, changing strings, and more.

Length: 52:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Learning Chords

The first step of your rock guitar experience is learning some of the more popular chords and that is what this lesson is all about.

Length: 42:30 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Barre Chords and More

Brad Henecke introduces common strumming patterns and barre chords.

Length: 42:23 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Your First Song

In this lesson Brad covers some of the more advanced barre chord shapes. He applies these shapes to the song "Hotel California."

Length: 41:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Blues and Scales

Rock has its roots in the blues. Brad helps you explore the wonderful world of blues in this lesson. He also covers some chord theory.

Length: 48:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Tricks and Lead

This lesson is all about specific techniques used by lead guitarists.

Length: 52:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Jammin' with Scales

This lesson details how to improvise with the blues scale.

Length: 27:27 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

3 Songs

In this fun lesson, Brad Henecke teaches you riffs from 3 classic rock songs.

Length: 28:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Power Chords

Power chords help give rock music that "punch you in the face" feel. Learn basic power chords in this lesson.

Length: 13:22 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

2 New Songs

Are you ready to learn "Ain't Talking About Love" by Van Halen and "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC? That's what this lesson is all about.

Length: 27:32 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Pentatonic Scale

Brad teaches the first pattern of the minor pentatonic scale and explains how it relates to the blues scale.

Length: 14:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Second Pattern

Brad covers the second pattern for both the minor blues and minor pentatonic scales.

Length: 9:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Message in a Bottle

Learn the classic rock song "Message in a Bottle."

Length: 10:22 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Third Pattern

This great lesson covers the 3rd fretboard pattern of the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales.

Length: 7:19 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Colorful Chord Tension

Brad demonstrates how open strings can be added to chord shapes you are already familiar with.

Length: 9:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

The Fourth Pattern

Brad covers the fourth pattern of the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales.

Length: 8:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

Daytripper

In this lesson Brad demonstrates how to play the Beatles song "Daytripper."

Length: 15:21 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

The Fifth Pattern

Brad demonstrates the 5th pattern of the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales. He also discusses practicing and memorizing them.

Length: 13:05 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

"Brown Eyed Girl"

Learn the classic rock song "Brown Eyed Girl" in this episode of Rock Guitar.

Length: 11:23 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Phrasing

Brad introduces you to the importance of phrasing. Quality phrasing is essential when performing any melodic line.

Length: 14:19 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Basics of Tapping

Tapping is an idiomatic guitar technique that offers a unique sound.

Length: 14:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Intro to Modes

Learning the modes is essential to the development of your scale vocabulary.

Length: 31:04 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Understanding Chord Shapes

Brad further explains what chord shapes are and how they relate to barre chords.

Length: 10:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Natural Harmonics

Learn the right and left hand mechanics involved in playing harmonics.

Length: 13:16 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Advanced Harmonics

Brad covers more advanced harmonic techniques such as harp harmonics, pinch harmonics and tap harmonics.

Length: 16:10 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

The Dorian Mode

Brad moves on in his modal lesson series to explain the Dorian mode. This lesson includes 2 backing tracks.

Length: 22:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 27

Phrygian Mode

Brad explains and demonstrates the Phrygian mode.

Length: 13:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 28

The Lydian Mode

Brad continues his discussion of the modes. You will learn the Lydian mode in this lesson.

Length: 9:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

Mixolydian Mode

Brad explains the Mixolydian mode and its practical applications.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

The Aeolian Mode

Continuing with his modal lessons, Brad Henecke teaches the Aeolian mode.

Length: 9:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 31

The Locrian Mode

The final lesson in our modal series covers the Locrian mode.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

The Ace Zone

Brad teaches some licks inspired by Ace Frehley of KISS. Incorporate these licks into your own solos.

Length: 7:18 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 33

Learn Licks

In this lesson Brad Henecke teaches you some fun licks that can be used in your own guitar solos.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

Blues Licks

Brad Henecke demonstrates some cool blues licks.

Length: 17:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

Modes and Scales

Brad Henecke provides an alternate way of comparing modes and scales.

Length: 8:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

A Different View

In the last lesson, Brad Henecke compared some scales that are major or dominant in quality. Now, he repeats this process with minor scales.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

One String Scales

This lesson is all about 1 string scales. Learning scales on 1 string is essential to your knowledge of the fretboard.

Length: 8:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 38

One String Ionian Mode

Brad demonstrates a one string version of the Ionian mode. This lesson demonstrates the importance of horizontal scales.

Length: 7:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 39

Aeolian Mode on One String

Brad continues his discussion of single string scales. He explains how to play the Aeolian mode across a single string.

Length: 4:11 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 40

Octave Scales

Brad explains how to locate octaves within scale patterns. He demonstrates a cool lick that involves playing simultaneous octaves.

Length: 7:07 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 41

Using Octaves

Brad explains how to use octaves in the context of an exercise. Octaves can also be used to build effective licks.

Length: 5:18 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 42

Harmonic Minor Scale

Brad introduces the harmonic minor scale. He explains how it can be applied to the solo break in "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 43

Learning by Ear

Brad Henecke provides valuable tips regarding the process of learning songs by ear.

Length: 23:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 44

Ear Training Game

Improve your ear training by playing "The Tone Is Right" with Brad Henecke.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 45

Diminished Arpeggio

Brad Henecke explains diminished chords and provides a fun diminished arpeggio exercise.

Length: 19:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 46

Understanding Time Signatures

Brad Henecke addresses time signatures.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 47

Diminished Chords

Brad Henecke explains the construction of diminished seventh chords. He also provides a diminished chord exercise.

Length: 10:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 48

Open G Tuning

Brad Henecke introduces open G tuning in this lesson.

Length: 23:50 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 49

Drop D Tuning

Brad Henecke introduces drop D tuning in this lesson. He explains many advantages of this tuning.

Length: 12:57 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 50

G Major Pentatonic

Brad Henecke teaches the G major pentatonic scale. He demonstrates all 5 patterns and explains how they can be transposed to any key.

Length: 22:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 51

Changing Scales with Chords

In this lesson Brad Henecke talks about changing the pentatonic/blues scales with each chord in a chord progression.

Length: 11:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 52

Mixolydian Scale and Chords

Brad will show how to use the Mixolydian scale with a blues chord progression.

Length: 6:56 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 53

Gear and Effects

This lesson is all about gear and effects. Brad begins his discussion with power conditioning and removing hiss from your amplifier. He progresses to discuss a plethora of effects pedals. Brad explores...

Length: 52:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 54

The Wah Pedal

In this lesson, Brad Henecke introduces the wah pedal and demonstrates its many applications.

Length: 15:53 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only

About Brad Henecke View Full Biography Brad Henecke was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 5th of 1963. He has been a fan of music for as long as he & his family can remember. You could always find him running around the farm wailing on his cardboard guitar, pretending to be a member of the rock band KISS. Additional inspiration came during his first concert when he got the chance to see Boston & Sammy Hagar in the early 1970's.

This opened up a whole new world of rock and roll music for him; his parents noticed his growing interest in music and enrolled him into guitar lessons when he was 13.

From there he jumped into two years of lessons at a local music store in Cedar Rapids. After discovering Eddie Van Halen, Brad knew that the guitar would always be a part of his life. He took his love throughout the city as he played as a pit musician & jammed at parties for friends.

This made him thirsty for more. He enrolled classes at Kirkwood Community College & also took lessons from the one & only Craig-Erickson (www.craig-erickson.com).

His love for music landed him a gig opening for Molly Hatchet in Cedar Rapids with a band called "Slap & Tickle". He has also played in the Greeley Stampede show for quite a few years with "True North".

Brad is currently playing in Greeley, Colorado with a rock band titled "Ragged Doll". They play a wide variety of music with an emphasis on classic rock from the 60's to present, with Brad playing electric guitar in the five piece lineup.

He currently jams on his all-time favorite guitar: a Paul Reed Smith Custom 24. Beyond guitar, he plays also plays drums & bass guitar. He has also been known to thrash a banjo from time to time. He is still actively playing & passing his 31 years of playing experience on to others (you!).

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