Ah power chords... The backbone of Rock 'n Roll history! No wonder they’re often one of the first things any guitarist will learn. It allows you to play loads and loads of easy songs.
Because they're so popular, being able to recognise power chords by ear is an incredibly useful skill to have and will make you much better at learning songs by ear in general. This site is all about those essential music skills, so in this article, I'll share fifteen power chord songs with you and provide help to learn them by ear.
For this article I'll give you the following hints:
- Which string the song is (best) played on (i.e. the lowest note)
- What the starting fret is (of the lowest note)
- A link to a correct tab to check if you got it right
All the hints are hidden by default, but just press the blue buttons and they'll appear!
In case you don't know what a power chord is, it's not that hard. It's a chord that consists of only two or three notes and is played on the lower strings of your guitar (E, A and sometimes D). The shape is always the same and you can move it around to make different kinds of power chords. Here's are two examples:
But you can also play a power chord that consists of two notes:
That's pretty much it!
For this article, I've started with the more easy power chord songs and move on to the slightly more involved riffs. Lastly, you might want to check out this step-by-step guide to learning riffs by ear.
15 Rockin' Power Chords Songs
1. Queens of the Stone Age - Go With The Flow
To start, here's the ruthless power chord accompaniment of QOTSA's go with the flow! To get this really heavy sound, they've actually tuned down a guitar to C (so all the strings sound four frets lower). But you can also play the same part on a guitar that's tuned normally.
2. The Kinks - You Really Got Me
This classic riff by the Kinks is simple but effective!
3. Blink 182 - All the Small Things
Back to the late nineties! Check out the intro to this one and you'll have most of the chord for the whole song!
4. Black Sabbath - Iron Man
This song alternates between a power chord riff and a single note riff. The power chord riff starts at 27 seconds (where I've timed the youtube clip to start) and then on the verse is almost the same melody but played with just one note.
5. The Donnas - New Kid in School
This song shows how you can take a few simple power chords and make it into something by using an interesting rhythm!
6. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Couldn't leave this one out. The chords are quite simple, but it can be tricky to get the rhythm right!
7. Blue Oyster Cult - Godzilla
It's almost like you're listening to to Queens of the Stone Age... but this one's from 1977! Great riff!
8. Dio - Holy Diverf
Prepare for some 80's heavy metal. Hooooly divaah!
9. The Kinks - All Day and All Night
Another classic by the Kinks!
10. U2 - Vertigo
Fun fact: the song counts off in Spanish as 'one, two, three, fourteen!'
11. Scorpions - Rock You Like A Hurricane
A classic by German Rock band the Scorpions. From their ninth(!) studio album.
12. Millionaire - Champagne
Chances are you've never heard of this Belgian band, let alone of this catchy, almost completely instrumental song. The guitar comes in at about 15 seconds!
13. Gorillaz - 5/4
If this one feels a bit weird, it's because of the rhythms (as the song title might have suggested to you already)! The guitar in the intro (the first seven seconds) is all power chords! There's a second guitar that comes in next sounds like it does too, but is slightly different.
14. The Offspring - Pretty Fly for a White Guy
This might've been the first power chord song I ever learned. So I couldn't leave it out!
15. AC/DC - Whole Lotta Rosie
And one of the most famous riffs of all times to finish up! Might take some more practice to play this one smoothly!
Power Chords and Beyond
One of the most important skills a guitarist can have is to be able to glance at a bunch of chords and instantly play them. Whether those are power chords, major chords or minor seven chords. With Guitar Chord Bootcamp, you’ll learn exactly that. Here’s what it’ll help you do:
- Learn the 8 Most Important Chord Types
- Learn All the Notes on the E-String
- Know How to Read and Play 96 Essential Chords
- Test Drive Everything You Learn in 14 Songs
You can check it out for free:
Hope you enjoyed these power chord songs and (most of all) that they helped you improve your ears. If you need any help or have suggestions for other songs, feel free to email me at Just[at]Stringkick.com!
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