Power Chords Lesson on JustinGuitar

You should avoid doing it, but it’s not the end of the world. I doubt punk rockers strumming away on stage are avoiding it.

The way I see it though, you should always strive to be as accurate as you possibly can while you practice lest you develop bad habits.

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Alexis is right. Try not to strum the sixth string.

If you do hit the sixth string, and you (accidentally) fail to mute it, two things czn happen:

  • when the open string rings out, it may or may not sound awful depending on the chord.

  • when you fret the sixth string note, you’re playing the 5th of the chord in the bass. Again, it may sound good or not.


I am finding them hard too. I tried and tried to play cocaine but it isn’t sounding great at all

I found using power chords for the bridge in everybody hurts on acoustic doable though. Smaller jumps maybe helping.

Come as you are just has short snippets of power chords which helped compared to struggling along with something like mollys lips endless chord changes.

I think I’ll do one more month of consolidation trying to do songs with powerchords and then move on.

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I played this using ALL power chords…?

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Hi, I am rather tall with big hands - when I use the “Smells like teen spirit” fingering for the power chords my ring finger invariably holds down 3 strings. My pinkie seems to be the right size but needs to build up strength.

Is there anything further down the line in the learing curve that would make using the pinkie a poor choice?

Thanks for your help,

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Hi Tobi and welcome to the community! I take it your playing 3 string power chord as you’re commenting in this lesson thread? Assuming you mean using your pinkie for the third string of the chords then I’d say no issues at all, it’s exactly what Justin is doing in the lesson. Or am I misunderstanding?

As you’re here, why not stick around the community a little and drop us a short introduction post here, plenty of good vibes and advice available as and when you might need it and it’s great to be keep up with Justin’s students of all levels :slight_smile:

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Hi Notter, thank you for your quick reply.

Yes, I am talking about 3 string power chords but in the “Smells like” video, Justin uses one finger for strings 2 and 3, not two fingers. He uses his ring finger for strings 2 and 3.

The first digit of my ring finger is quite long and tends to cover strings 2, 3 and 4. So that’s why I was wondering if I should maybe use my pinkie to just cover strings 2 and 3.



@TobiH Tobi, the one thing to keep in mind for future is possible use of the pinky for embellishments and playing a rock n roll/bluesy shuffle.

If you are playing power chords with root on the E string then you should try and position the ring finger so you hold down the notes on the A and D strings and lightly touch the G string to mute it.

If the root is on the A string then would be ideal to mute the B string (and E if possible) with the ring finger while holding down the notes on the D and G strings.

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hi @TobiH

Here is a collection of stuff to think about for your power chord questions:

  1. you can certainly play them 2-string or 3-string (root+5th, or root+5th+harmonic)
  2. I think playing 2-finger or 3-finger is preference even for 3-strings. I find 2-finger easier myself. 3-finger can sometimes sound cleaner.
  3. If you get used to playing 3-finger, the progression into playing Barre may be easier because you are already used to using the two fingers.
  4. I’m not sure how the length of the ring finger plays into including string 2. For me, my ring finger is longer than my index and it tends to unintentionally mute the string above. Your description suggests you are placing fingers too flat.
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Hey Tobi, no worries! If you’re working through the course sequentially and on this module, I’d actually suggest using both 3rd and 4th fingers rather than barreing strings 2 and 3. Just think it’s useful for finger dexterity for the moment and when you’re good move onto barreing those 2 strings.

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Thanks all, understood! Will labour on with 3 fingers :wink:

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Having spent so much time on F barre getting the bottom two strings to ring out the irony of now having to learn to mute them is not lost on me. :smile:

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Hi all,

Any tips for reducing the screech as I move up and down the neck? Do I just have to remove my fingers completely between chord changes or is there anything else I can do to reduce it?

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@aliomenti that string noise affects all guitarists. Lifting will slow your ability to shift and change power chords in time with songs. You just have to learn to accept it I’m afraid.
Cleanliness and good maintenance habits can help a little but it is part of life.

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Thanks for the reply Richard. This is my first time playing with a high gain setting and it just seems so much more screechy compared to originals I’m trying to play.

If you are fretting too hard it might make the noise worse. Are Richard says, you won’t remove it completely, but you might reduce it somewhat with a lighter touch. It can be very difficult to fret lightly when strumming hard/loud, its a natural tendency to fret much harder than necessary - It’s something I’m trying to improve myself.
Also keep in mind that the originals you are listening to have probably had significant post production work / EQ etc to reduce noise on the recordings. Some players swear by coated strings - it’s not for me, but if this is a style you play a lot and the noise really bothers you then it might be worth considering.

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I’ve read that flat wound strings help, but I haven’t tried them yet because they are very expensive.

You could also experiment with using a noise gate. I only get very bad “noise” if I have a very high gain setup…generally simply relaxing the fingers of the fretting hand and sliding shouldn’t cause too much noise.

Hi @jacksprat

I tried flatwounds a couple years ago. They were certainly quiet, but also lacked any sparkle. They were replaced the following day because I did not like the dead sound.

A noise gate won’t save you. If you have anything over the threshold you will hear it and the level of the string squeak should be loud enough to be above a reasonable threshold. When you set the threshold higher, you will have trouble with wanted notes cutting out.

Richard’s comment is my experience. I have found that as my fingertips hardened from playing, the noise was easier to control. I think part is my ability to lift and move more quickly, but also, tips get less flexible and sit on top of the string rather than forming into the ridges.