One of the quickest ways to make your guitar playing sound professional is with this simple guitar chord structure – the Five Chord. Five chords can be played up the neck for every major chord and can even be substituted for minor chords in a pinch.
For anyone just starting out on guitar, this chordal form can be a godsend. In the beginning, players may not have the finger strength to play full barre chords. When you play rock, it is pretty important to be able to play chords in different positions to gain the proper tone for a song. This is where playing five chords can give you the tone without having to play those full barre chords.
There’s an argument that the five structure is not really a chord. Guitar chords generally consist of at least three notes (a triad), using the root, the third note and the fifth note of the scale.
So the argument comes that because a five chord only consists of the root note and the fifth note of a scale (a dyad), it’s not a full chord. Technically, this is true, but for the purpose of rock guitar, the five chord will serve our purposes well.
The five chord is also known as the Power Chord. It can be substituted for barre chords all the way up the guitar neck. The fingering is easy and usually only utilizes your first and third fretting fingers. You will only play two strings (and two notes) for the chord, and only play these on the fifth and sixth, or the fourth and fifth strings. Let me demonstrate:
The A5 Chord with Sixth String Root
5|—7—–| Use Ring finger
6|—5—–| Use Index finger
The D5 Chord with Fifth String Root
4|—7—–| Use Ring finger
5|—5—–| Use Index finger
When strumming these chords, you only play the two fingered strings. The rest would be muted or just not played.
A good example of a song built around the power chord is ‘Godzilla’, by Blue Oyster Cult. You quickly realize how versatile this chord form is as you move the chord up the neck for the various major chords in the song.
By learning this simple guitar chord form, you can rock out to classic rock, metal, punk, shred, you name it. Just crank the distortion on your amp and you’re ready to jam!