How to convert chords to power chords
Here’s a simple tip for a common situation. You want to beef up a chorus by playing some power chords. You only have the Acoustic player’s chord chart. It isn’t marked with power chords. D’Oh!
You’ll need to know how to convert chords to power chords. And it’s easier than you might think.
Let’s say you have a typical chord sequence: G, Em7, Cadd9, D
The acoustic player will be all over that, using open chord shapes. But you need to know which power chords to play.
You need to do two things:
- Strip back to the root note. In this case, that’s G, E, C, D
- Add ‘5’: G5, E5, C5, D5
That’s it! You can see this sequence played in this video lesson
This works for any chord, in any key. So the weird and wonderful chord A7#9add11 becomes A5.
The only tricky part happens when the root note is a sharp or flat. For example, Ab7 (‘A flat seventh’) has the root note ‘Ab’ (A flat). So its power chord would be Ab5 ( ‘A flat five’). In the same way, G#minor would become G#5.
And now … the science bit
Whilst there is much more to know on how chords are built up, this trick uses a simple fact of music theory. All typical chords are built up around a power chord! Take a closer look at a G7 (‘G seventh’) chord. It’s made up of notes G, B, D and F. Compare this to the power chord of G5. This contains just the two notes G and D. The G7 is simply a G5 with the notes B and D added in, to give the chord extra colour. But just as easily, we can strip those notes back out to get the equivalent power chord.
Free Power Chords Video Tutorials
Click the lesson links for video tutorials on power chords: Shapes, common patterns, how to palm mute and stop. With backing tracks to play along to!
- How to play G5 power chord
- Palm Stops – How to stop chords ringing out and get choppy rhythms
- How to play C5 and D5 power chords
- Rock Chugs – Palm muting to get a percussive sound
- How to play an E5 power chord – and a track based on Hillsong United ‘One Way’
- A ‘growly’ alternate G5 power chord shape
- How to play A5 and B5 power chords
- How to move these power chords to other keys
- Amp settings to get Power chord tone
But for anything a little more, well gentle, you’ll need a different approach.
Take a look at the Learn Rock Worship Guitar Ultimate Guide to Modern Worship Chords for 30 essential sparkly chords!