How to play a G5 Power Chord
- Lead In: 8 beats
- Pattern: G5 power chord hit on the ‘1’. Let ring 16 beats., Repeat
- Sound: Power Chord Distortion setting (here, Line 6 POD XT ‘Treadplate’)
- Notes: Hit HARD with a downstroke to get the fullest tone.
A G5 is a three note chord on the three bass strings . (That’s the ones nearest your chin).
How to fret the G5
- First finger (left hand, fret hand. Place it on the third fret on the sixth string – the fattest E string.
- Third finger on the fifth fret of the fifth string (the A string).
- Fourth finger – our little pinky. Place it right underneath the third finger, on the fifth fret of the D string (the fourth string).
So we have the first finger note (demo), the third finger note (demo) and the fourth finger note (demo). That makes a G5 chord.
Unused second finger
One thing that always used to confuse me when I was learning was the second finger. It does nothing. But it looks like it does!
Most times, I simply leave the second finger clear of the fretboard.
Avoid playing strain – keep relaxed
Now a couple of tips I wish I had known. The first is about your left hand fingering. Keep everything relaxed. You’re looking for nice, smooth, relaxed curves. You’re not looking for everything being ‘bent’. You’re looking for a smooth curve all the way from your elbow, through your wrist, to a nice gentle curve on your fingers. You want to use your fingertips to play these chords, to actually press the strings down.
How to avoid ‘buzzy’ notes
A very important point is you want to put your fingers so that they are as near as possible – just behind – the fret. Nearest to your chin. And the reason for that is that if you do that, you get a nice, clean sound. But if you move your finger further away – the wrong way – you get a horrible buzzing sound (demo). That’s one of the reasons beginners quite often get that sound. So keep your fingers ‘near to your chin’.
How to ‘grab’ the chord shape quickly
Another technique I have found useful is to tuck your third finger and fourth finger up, so they make – essentially – ‘one finger’. I don’t always strictly do that, but if you think in terms of these two fingers being one finger, you’ll find G5 and other power chords much easier to grab.
How to control unwanted feedback and string noises
My last tip is about controlling the guitar. Let me just show you something. If you’ve got a high gain sound like this – mine is called ‘Treadplate’ on the Line 6 Pod XT – it means that the electric guitar is really sensitive. So if I just blow on it (demo: loud sound!) – it’s quite impressive really! You obviously don’t want that in your playing.
So there is a technique I have developed. If this is the first time you have picked up a guitar, this might be a bit hard for you to do. But aim towards this. It’s a bit of a ‘knack’. Keep practicing and you’ll get there.
With my first finger, I’m pressing the note with my finger tip. But there’s this fleshy underside of my finger as well. What I do is I flatten that fleshy underside so that it just touches – but does NOT press down – the other five strings on the fretboard.
So if I play all the six strings, what you should hear is the one I am fretting (demo) sounds clearly. But the others (demo) sound quite muffled. Even if I hit all six strings (demo), there’s really only one string that rings out. So when I add in my third and fourth finger, I can hit everything, and still only sound that chord.
Recap on G5 Power Chord fingering
So a quick recap on that shape. – First finger, third fret, sixth string (E string) – Third finger, fifth fret, string below (A string) – Fourth finger, fifth fret, string below (D string) In terms of your right hand (pick hand), remember that you only pick these three strings (fretted ones).
Right hand picking technique
Use a downstroke. Pretty much all power chord playing tends to use downstrokes.
It’s quite a big difference if you are used to acoustic playing, and some other styles of electric playing, but you tend to get the power of downstrokes with power chords. Practice just hitting those three strings that you’ve actually fretted with your left hand (fret hand) fingers, as opposed to all six strings of the guitar.
Getting a good Rock Sound out of Power Chords
And the other tip, to get a really good ‘Rock Sound’ out of this G5 is – just HIT IT! Don’t tickle it, hit it! Put your back into it!
So, even though it’s just one chord, let’s put it straight away to work in the worship team.
Now this next backing track is quite easy. We’re just going to have eight beats lead in, we’re going to hit this chord. Then we’re going to let it ring for 16 beats.
How to use the G5 power chord in worship – ideas
- I can imagine it being a link between songs in a flowing worship set. It’s quite an energetic kind of piece.
- I can imagine it being used as an underscore part. Behind a reading, or prayers, or maybe even some kind of improvised/spontaneous singing.
- I can imagine it being used by your video team. They could put some kind of sequence over it.
So even though we just know one chord, by adding the rest of the band, we can make quite a good contribution. I’ll show you how I would play it. Then you can practice on your own with the backing track.