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Adding Thickness to Your Power Chords

I have a quick column for you this month, not too much on the crazy speed stuff, actually its really easy to play. Its more the idea that we are working on here. Sometime in the next few months I will be showing you some of the NEW DARK SHIFT riffs. But unfortunately, not this month… we are done writing the material, and recording will begin very soon. Once that is underway, I will have more examples with sound clips then any of us will know what to do with!!

This month I would like to focus on adding more thickness to your power chords. There are several different ways to accomplish this.

Figure 1. shows one way. Put the fifth in the bass of the chord. This will give it a heavy growling sound that I love and use quite extensively with Dark Shift.

Figure 2. show another simple way to add more girth to your rhythm parts. This time we are going to change the chord from a power chord to what’s called an add2 chord. What we’ll do is, take the normal power chord, and add the second pitch from the root. ie. If the chord is an E5, an E5add2 would be the standard E(one) and B(five) (perfect fifth), then we add the second (F#) from the e minor scale (which is also known as the 9th). Note that between the E and the B is a perfect fifth, and between the B and the F# is also a perfect fifth. So this chord is especially ferocious!! You can just here the major 9th interval, it just snarls!!!

Another cool trick is to combine these two.

Figure 3. This is pretty straight forward, now you just have a power chord with the fifth doubled in the bass, and your adding the 9th at the top.

Figure 4. We are going to do something a little different. Now this one really requires two separate guitars to do this correctly. One guitar will just play the standard vanilla power chords, while the other guitar will play the root and the 3rd of the chords. This adds a lot of thickness to the chords and gives it a much more mature sound musically the straight power chords.

Figure 5. This is very similar to the previous example in the way its played and the way it sounds. In this one One guitar is playing octaves and the other is filling in the 3rd and 5th. It has a very similar sound except that this is a little more open/ airy sounding. This is mainly due to the octave in the one guitar.


These are a few examples of how to add more melody into your rhythm parts. Its really cool to combine these different examples and alternate between them to add more harmony to your riffs. The best way that I can explain the benefits of these chords is a pallet of colors. The normal power chords are like the primary colors. They are kind of boring and dull, although they are still used quite often, these slight alterations are like having variations of colors. Now you don’t have just an E5 chord. Now you can have a E5/B, or a E5add2, or E5add2/B, or Emaj or minor… or what ever else you can concoct!


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  1. I’ve been following this topic for a while now. I totally agree with what you’re saying. Nice site design by the way…

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