You Have Reached A Full Access Section

Power Chord Essentials

Get full access

Power chords are simple two or three note voicings - with no interval smaller than a 4th - so they can handle almost endless amounts of distortion without sounding cluttered. For these examples I'll use a pretty distorted tone, which you can obtain from your amp, like we did it earlier or from a distortion pedal.

On the pedal, I have the volume knob set to match my volume when the pedal is bypassed. Then you have the tone and the distortion knobs. Don't worry about the tone knob for right now- we'll just leave that at 12 o'clock. The most important thing is to make sure you get the right amount of distortion. If you get too much, the tone starts seeming "small", which is typically not as cool as a tone that sounds "huge". So add distortion until it's a little too much, and then come down from there. This is mostly a matter of personal taste and preference, but this is a good starting point.

I'll be using a Les Paul for these examples. This guitar has two pickups with a three-way switch. The switch engages either the warm sounding neck pickup, the "nasaly" and bright bridge pickup, or the in-between setting which engages both. I'll be using the bridge pickup for these examples.

These big pickups are called humbuckers. They are famous for their fat tone and for being less noisy than the smaller uncovered pickups called single coils. You saw the single coils on the Strat I used in the previous tutorials. It's very different what people swear by, but I consider them different sounds that can be used for different situations. Sometimes the sparkly single coils are perfect for the song, and sometimes you want the big fat humbucker tone.

Lesson Info
Power Chord Essentials