Power Chords and Barre Chords

Learning how to play power chords and barre chords (pronounced "bar chords") is a huge milestone for new guitar players.   

Barre chords are not initially easy for most players.  When new players are trying barre chords for the first time, some strings will often sound muted until they've been working on them for several weeks (or even longer).   

Click here for a lesson that I developed for learning power chords and then barre chords.   The file is an excerpt from my book "Chords and Music: Volume 3" which you can pick up from Amazon.

Once you've got the basics down, below you'll find songs that use power chords and barre chords.  Some of the links below are complete songs and others are just famous riffs which you can also find in the "Famous Riffs and Intros" tab.

Sweater Song COMPLETE - Score.pdf

The Sweater Song

This song, also known as "Undone", was released by Weezer in 1992.   "The Sweater Song" features a dissonant (but fun) picking intro, a verse with simple open chords, and then some heavy distorted power chords on the chorus.  

Lyrics have been omitted since some of them are not the most kid-friendly.  But the chord charts and tabs for the 3 main sections of the song are all there.

Crazy Train Complete Tab - Score.pdf

Crazy Train (Intro)

This wild guitar intro was released by Ozzy Osbourne in 1980.   Crazy Train was Ozzy's first hit single after leaving Black Sabbath.  The iconic intro has been recreated and used in dozens of other songs of various styles.

This simplified arrangement of the intro is designed for students who are just learning power chords for the first time.

No lyrics on this one, since it's just an intro.

When I come around Full Tab - Score.pdf

When I Come Around

Green Day put out this smash hit in 1994.    This song is perfect for students who are just learning to play power chords.  When they play the song, they actually tune the whole guitar down a half step.  

This arrangement is designed to make you sound like the original recording without tuning your guitar down a half step (because that's a pain to do).   So even though Green Day plays the first chord starting on the 3rd fret, you'll play your first chord on the 2nd fret.

Also, the key signature on this song is G-flat.  So technically, there are some C-flat chords in this key.  I changed them to say "B" instead of "C-flat", just so it would seem less confusing to new players.

We Three Kings.pdf

We Three Kings

This classic Christmas song was written by the famous hymn writer John Henry Hopkins in 1857.   It was the first widely popular Christmas carol written in America.

This arrangement is geared towards those who are first learning to play barre chords.  The strum pattern is written out to be very simple, each chord being held for 3 beats.

Island in the Sun Full Tab - Score.pdf

Island in the Sun

Weezer released this popular chill-rock song in 2001.   The album, called "Weezer", was initially not going to include "Island in the Sun", but one of the producers felt strongly that the song had potential.   The song was then a huge hit, and possibly the band's most successful song outside of the U.S.   

This song has some unique chord shapes and rhythms.  The intro and verse have different voicings of the same chords, but then the chorus plays some huge sounding distorted power chords.   

I changed the rhythm a little on the verse and chorus to make it sound more complete with just one instrument, but it's pretty close to the original.

Macy's Day Parade Complete - Score.pdf

Macy's Day Parade

This song by Green Day came out in 2000 on their album "Warning", which just so happens to be the first album I ever bought when I was a kid.  

This arrangement uses some rehearsal marks such as "D.C. al Coda".  If you've never seen those kind of marks before, click here for a video tutorial.

This arrangement is complete with lyrcs, chord charts, and strumming.



This centuries old sea shanty was repopularized in 2021 by Nathan Evans.  Now, literally everyone on the planet is familiar with this incredibly catchy melody.

This arrangement uses barre chords and mutes.  Some of the barre chords, such as major chords with the root on the fifth string, can be simplified. 

Click here for a quick overview of barre chords on the 5th string.  There are multiple ways to play them, so you don't always have to choose the way that's written.

Also, feel free to simplify the strum pattern to just one strum per measure if the written pattern is too tricky.

Fools Rush In, Full F Chord - Score.pdf

Fools Rush In

This classic song by Elvis Presley is one of the most popular songs of all time.  It's also been covered by a number of bands including The Killers and 21 Pilots.  This song uses an F chord, which is why it's in the barre chord page.  

The strum pattern is written in 3/4 time, even though the original is in 6/8 time.  The strum pattern in this arrangement more closely resembles the 21 Pilots version of the song.

This song, using a simpler version of the F chord, can also be found in the "Chords and Strumming" page.

What Child is This?.pdf

What Child is This?

This Christmas song has it's melody taken from the English folksong "Greensleeves".   This arrangement can be played as fingerstyle or with a pick.

This arrangement uses hammer-ons. and full F barre chords.  Watch the rhythm in the tabs carefully.  

Banana Pancakes Full Tab - Score.pdf

Banana Pancakes

This song, released by Jack Johnson in 2005, helped propel Jack Johnson to stardom.   This song uses some 7th barre chords, as well as slides, so it will be easiest for those who have been playing for a year or two.  

Here's a basic lesson plan on 7th chords if you're new to them.