Power Chords Lesson on JustinGuitar

I have noticed this too, but haven’t found a good solution. It seems to be due to wrist angle (again), this time my right/strumming wrist bends and the back of my hand is not parallel to the forearm, as I search for the sweet spot to palm mute. Moving my elbow further away from the guitar helped but then I seem to hit the pickup selector :pensive:

1 Like

So if I play only the top 3 strings of an E minor, is that basically an E power chord?

Yes, you’ll be play the notes E B E with no 3rd.

Yeah I’m also getting a lot of pain in my fretting hand playing these power chords. It’s across the back of the hand and around where the hand and wrist meet, kind of across the bones :persevere: Didn’t get this feeling with playing F barre, not sure what I’m doing differently

I am not a doctor, but…

…based on what you describe, I suspect you might be holding your unused middle finger up off the fretboard with too much tension. I gave myself tennis elbow a few years back in a similar situation.

This might help (crosshatching shows pain pattern, the dot shows where to look for trigger point - a tender knot in the muscle):

1 Like

Maybe you should consider a career as a physio because I’m pretty sure that diagnosis is spot on! My middle finger has been really awkward during practice, I don’t know what to do with it :slight_smile: If I relax it too much it touches the strings, so I’ve mostly been curling it up, but it’s not comfortable anywhere.

Ok, thanks! Will try massaging around that area

My suggestion is to practice holding your middle finger **slightly ** off the fretboard, with a relaxed curve.

This may take some time and concentration…breaking a habit can be difficult.

A good test is to hold down the chord, and wiggle your middle finger around a bit…tapping the strings, lifting it away from the fretboard. If this is very difficult, you are probably still holding a lot of tension there.

WRT massage…I just want to stress that you should massage any painful spots in your forearm - not where the pain is experienced in your wrist and hand. This spot is marked on the 1st diagram with a dot. (Massaging the painful area won’t hurt you - it’s just ineffective)

Massage with your knuckles (or better - a hard rubber ball) before, during, and after practicing should give at least some pain reduction almost immediately. But it will keep coming back if you keep overusing the muscle.

1 Like

I am just starting to try power chords on my acoustic and to my ear they sound terrible! I have checked that the correct strings ring out and I am getting a muted ‘click’ on the others, sounds ghastly to me. Is it just my ear not liking the sound and the use of an acoustic guitar?

1 Like

Hi Kim! I also have an acoustic and came here to ask this same question! I thought it might be technique, maybe there is a different way to play them on an acoustic?

It sounds ok if I make an effort to only play the fretted strings, but that’s really hard to do when you’re trying to move your hand around quickly and something Justin specifically said not to do. The muted strings really come through on my acoustic and make the whole chord sound dull. I read mixed opinions online about it, some folks said it requires practice. Hoping some of the knowledgable players here can offer guidance! :pray:

@KimR and @Chrisdm to get power chord to sound decent on an acoustic take a little finesse. Try not to play the muted strings and strum softly until you gain control of you picking hand. power chords should sound any worse than open chords they just don’t sustain as long because all string played are fretted. In the video Justin has quit a bit of distortion on his electric. try this old video to see if you power chords sound more like Justin playing them on acoustic.


Thanks Stitch, just what I needed and with the extra entertainment value of younger Justin!

I think it’s my ear because his demonstration sounds like the sound I am getting, which I think sounds ghastly.

Very helpful indeed, thank you for your help.

I have been on power chords for three months now and it’s got to the stage where I am feeling like I am getting nowhere. So moving on to the next module but leaving songs from Module 12 in the practice. Hope that’s the right thing to do. But if I don’t do something I will stop playing altogether.

Hi Emma,
Certainly don’t stop in its entirety :face_with_raised_eyebrow: … you didn’t bump your head hard against your guitar with taking off ?.. Yes that happens quite often … here :roll_eyes:
You’ve tried it long enough, just continue with the next lessons and just try again in a while… not too long, otherwise just much later… good luck and keep having fun with it playing the guitar, :sunny:

1 Like

Thanks for that Roger, it makes me feel a bit better. :smiley:

1 Like

Hey Emma, I couldn’t agree more with @roger_holland here. Don’t let one thing hang you up entirely and still kick on. The only thing I would have said / advise you are already doing which is to keep power chord songs in your practice routine so there’s always work on them. They are harder than they seem and I also took a long time to move on, in fact probably about 2 months but I was happy to focus on it.

Now I’ve started the blues module however I’m kinda wishing I had moved on earlier, it’s been alot of fun these last couple of weeks!!

Good luck and keep on enjoying, that’s the absolute main thing :slight_smile:

1 Like

Well Emma, thank you for making me feel better. I see lots of people here doing really well and wonder ‘is it just me’ ? I moved on to power chords just a couple of weeks ago and am truly terrible and this was after having failed to nail ‘happy birthday’ or any finesse with finger style after a couple of months and deciding to keep on with those items in the background whilst learning something new.

What I have realised is that each lesson builds on the next and you never really leave anything behind once you move to the next module. If I don’t start learning something new every couple of months I get bored and fed up. It was a useful experience to go back to some module one songs and discover that they felt much easier now than they did at the time, it proved to me that I was learning even if very slowly. So I would say move on, but do a little bit on power chords regularly.

1 Like

I’m really enjoying this one. I ran into problems with the three-finger method, especially higher up the fretboard.

Thanks to those that posted about using two fingers. I think that’s the way for me, but I’m still practicing the three-finger method occasionally. There’s a lot to work on in this module, so I’ll probably stay with this for a while.

1 Like

What should I do if I do not have an electric guitar? I cannot rock on acoustic.

Welcome to the forum Alex.
You can learn power chords on an acoustic, check out this old video from the classic beginner course.

1 Like

Welcome to the forum Alex.

You could also check out the following song lesson where Justin covers it on an acoustic using power chords How to play Polly by Nirvana | Acoustic Guitar Lesson - YouTube.