How to Play Heavy Metal Power Chord Riffs

Let musician Alex Skolnick teach you how to play power chord riffs in this heavy metal guitar lesson from Howcast.


I like to talk about some power chord riffs. There are many different variations on power cord riffs, different keys, different chords. Let's look at a few different chords, let's start with the G chord. Now this one is a little more common amongst hard rock groups rather than all out heavy metal groups. So, a lot of us learn the G chord like this. [plays chord]

But as a power chord, first thing you do is you take the second string, play that at the third fret. [plays chord] Alright, now notice I'm taking this note out. I'm skipping it so it's all I have are roots and fifths of the chord, that's the essential ingredient for a power chord. So now I have this [plays guitar] So immediately I think of groups like AC/DC and Guns and Roses. From there I might go to a D chord [plays guitar] I might go to a C chord [plays guitar] Okay.

More common in heavy metal, is the E chord. Now I might play an E chord like this, this is just a power chord [plays guitar] This is very different from the way a lot of us learn E D chord originally, initially we learn it like this. [plays guitar[ But playing it with index finger gives you the chance to move it around and create riffs based on the power chord, so by simply releasing it. [plays guitar] Alright, I get a D power chord. Going up a half step I get an F power chord [plays guitar].

I could switch off with the middle two strengths it gives me a G power chord, that's all I need are the roots and fifths [plays guitar]. Or I could slide up from the F to the G on the same strings the fourth and fifth [plays guitar]. Now, watch what happens when I play around with that with full distortion [plays guitar].

Alright, so I ended up on an F chord at the first fret. The cool thing about this is you can move this anywhere. So if I take an F sharp, alright this is just a power chord at the second fret, F sharp [plays guitar]. I can pretty much do all the same things, I can go down a whole step. I have an E, the whole time I'm keeping this little note. I'm keeping this root, I can play a G, an A, a B, B flat. So if I switch off between those with full distortion, it sounds like this [plays guitar].

Alright, I hope you've enjoyed this lesson on power chord riffs.

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