Power Chords 2
Once you have got those sixth-string root power chords down, we can get in to playing chords with a fifth-string root. The principle is exactly the same, but the notes are different of course, and there is an additional technique needed.
Now with a fifth string root...
Use only your 1st, 3rd and 4th fingers as shown, and start by putting your 1st finger in the 3rd fret of the fifth string (the note C). Then put down your 3rd and 4th fingers. If this is a bit of stretch don't worry, you will soon limber up! Try to keep them together, the 3rd finger sort of on top of the 4th as shown below.
Now you have to mute the 6th string!
Notice that the sixth string must not be played.
A power chord with its root on the fifth string will sound very bad indeed if you forget to mute this string. So how do you do that?
Well we use our 1st finger—the very tip—to press on the side of the sixth string. Not hard enough to make the note sound, but hard enough to stop the note ringing out. See the photo and try and copy my hand position.
Some people use the middle finger to help mute the sixth string. It's O.K. to do this, but you still have to mute with the 1st finger too!
Take a listen
It should sound like this when you play all the strings, from fattest to thinnest (6th to 1st). Remembering that the 6th string is now muted (that is the first note you will hear.
And Then There Were Two Root Notes
So if you look closely now at the neck diagram below you can see that there are now two ways of playing every power chord! One with the 6th string root and one with the 5th string root!
Two Ways To Play
So make sure that you understand that every power chord can be played in two places in the neck. You will have to learn how to figure out which one you should use when. Use a little logic, and listen. Sometimes it is better to play them all on one string anyway, because the sound will stay consistent. Use your ears and your head!
Some cool tunes to check out...
The best way to learn these chords is to put them into practice and learn some songs! There are some in the songbook, and more listed on the website, but what I really recommend is this:
Check out the ‘Transcribing' area you will find lesson TR-201 • Listening To The Bass Note which is all about working out power chord songs, just by using your ear! This is by far the best way to learn songs, and in this lesson I give you lots of tips so that you can develop your listening skills as well as your playing and repertoire.
There are loads of great songs out there:
Song 2 (Blur)
Teenage Kicks (Undertones) Polly (Nirvana)
Basket Case (Green Day)
...and many, many more.
Once you develop this skill you will find you can work out songs on your own, and that is a great feeling; no longer do you need to rely on dodgy internet tabs (which are usually wrong anyway). You can do it yourself, and know that it's right!!
It can be tricky. You might find that reading the other articles on transcribing will help too. It's such a valuable skill that it's worth a little pain and frustration!
So time to check out some songs to use these in.