When you are learning a new skill in a new field you will be introduced to habits most people have, particular things which are done simply because they work. Learning to play the guitar is very similar in this respect: Certain chordshapes are being used in particular ways, simply because they sound good when played in that way. Each style of music seem to have its own approach when it comes to using chords and how to play them, and what kind of sound to use them with when playing these chords.
Once you have been playing the guitar for a while and have more experience under your belt it helps to have a look at the cliches, understand them, be aware of them and know how to break them or use them for your own purposes.
For this short article I want to highlight the powerchord and how to break free from its particular useage.
Most of you will have heard of the term powerchord, it is simply two notes put together to give you a strong sound which will work in a lot of musical styles. The two notes being used are usually the Root and the fifth. Some guitar players like to use three notes, in cases like this most players will go for: Root, Fifth and an Ocatave above the Root. Personally I like the lean approach of the the two note powerchord: Very smooth for moving around on the fretboard while still giving you enough power in the low end.
Are powerchords only used in Heavy Rock and do you really need to use distortion to make them come alive? No, you can use them on acoustic guitar, you can use them in any setting. Whenever you have the need for a strong backing with low notes, powerchords will give you what you need.
The advantage of a powerchords is that the chord is neither major or minor, and therefore it can be used in any musical setting. Great in cases you are not sure about which chords are major or minor, you can always fall back on powerchords. True, but they will only give you a certain sound, and if you use them too often your sound may get a little stale, but that observation goes for many chordshapes: It is always a good idea to vary your shapes with whatever you play, as long as it can support the song you are playing you are doing fine.
Hope to catch you soon again,