What Is a Power Chord?
Explore what makes a power chord and how it differs from a regular chord.
By Nick Stoubis
Power chords have been used in some of the most epic guitar riffs of all-time and can be heard in songs like "Iron Man" (Black Sabbath), "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (Pat Benatar), "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Nirvana) and many more. So what is a power chord and how do you find the notes for it?
A power chord is made of two different notes. The number 5 is used to indicate a power chord because the chord contains the 1st (root) and 5th notes of a major scale. When written, the chord will have the number 5 next to the root note:
To find a power chord, you’ll need to know the notes of the scale it belongs to. For example, below is a C major scale. The notes of a C5 chord are the 1st (the root) and 5th notes of this scale:
Notice that the octave is also part of the chord. In fact, either of the notes C and G can be played in any octave on the guitar and it will still be called a C5 chord.
In order to find the notes of other power chords, you will need to know the notes of those major scales. For example, to find the notes in a G5 chord, you will have to know the notes of the G major scale.
You can always rely on the power chord formula since the name actually tells you how to play it!
Want to learn more chords? Browse Fender Play's chord library, learn about chord types, and find tips on how to master them.