Ukulele Power Chords

Power chords are about the simplest chords to play – so simple the experts don’t really consider them chords at all.

They’re made up of just two notes: the root and the fifth (which is why you’ll often see them referred to as C5, D5 etc). You can find the fifth of any note by going up seven frets. For example, the C power chord (C5) is made up of C and, seven frets higher, G. Which is just the bottom two strings open.

You can create power chords all the way up the neck by playing the C and G strings at the same fret. So, playing the G and C strings at the fifth fret will give you an F5 chord.

There are plenty of classic rock riffs that have been built on just these two note power chords such as Iron Man and Smoke on the Water.

You can beef the power chords up by doubling the notes on other strings e.g. the C and G notes of the C5 chord can also be found on the third fret of the E and A strings giving you this:

There are plenty of other ways to play power chords too. Here’s a list:

Make sure you don’t play the strings that have an ‘x’ at the top of them. For the A#5 and B5 chords, you have to stop the C string ringing by either resting the tip of your index finger or the underside of your ring finger (of your fretting hand) against it.

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24 Comments

  1. Carol (Uke Gal) July 16th, 2008 7:09 pm

    Thanks! This is great stuff…I was wondering about what they were about when I found them in songs. Good to add to my repertoire and use on that new Risa electric that finally arrived from Germany!

  2. Birdbrain July 16th, 2008 11:57 pm

    See this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBv1_h92gkU for Eddie Vedder picking out a few notes of ‘Iron Man’ before playing ‘Soon Forget’ at Reading 2007; a nice link between a couple of recent posts here. Keep ‘em coming Woodshed!

  3. Nelson July 17th, 2008 4:46 pm

    Yeah I hate having to keep re-figuring out power chords, thanks for the lil’ chart!

  4. Woodshed July 18th, 2008 2:59 pm

    Carol: Glad to see you finally got your hands on it. Was it worth the wait?

    Birdbrain: Thanks for the link. That’s really cool.

    Nelson: You’re welcome.

  5. Carol (Uke Gal) July 18th, 2008 6:42 pm

    Woodshed: Indeed it was worth the wait for the Risa. However, it is my first foray into an electric guitar-like instrument so I’ll let you know as it develops…Of course I went crazy on buying an amp as well!

  6. newbie August 3rd, 2008 2:10 pm

    “For example, the C power chord (C5) is made up of C and, seven frets higher, G. Which is just the bottom two strings open”

    I guess you meant the top two strings open. Otherwise I’m TOTALLY lost.

  7. Woodshed August 3rd, 2008 4:38 pm

    newbie: The top two strings are usually referred to as the bottom strings. Very confusing. I guess it’s from the guitar with bottom referring to the pitch of the notes.

  8. Francis January 4th, 2010 11:50 pm

    Thanks so much! I was searching everywhere for these.

  9. Lindy Lewis March 3rd, 2011 4:27 am

    if i got a new risa ukulele would i be able to play almost any song that i guitar could play? and could i also play power chords because i might join my church band and i want to know if the risa lp ukulele would sound good in a full band.

  10. Woodshed March 6th, 2011 11:04 am

    Lindy: You might have to adapt how it’s played, but yes you can. And it would definitely sound good in a full band.

  11. Wheat March 6th, 2011 6:33 pm

    how do you play Bb5 then?

  12. Tom March 22nd, 2011 12:01 am

    Wheat, Bb5 is the same as A#5

  13. Lindy Lewis May 8th, 2011 1:50 am

    can i move thoses chords up and down the fret board? like a guitar

  14. Woodshed May 8th, 2011 9:05 am

    Lindy Lewis: You certainly can.

  15. lindy June 15th, 2011 3:26 am

    Would a f5 power chord played on differnt frets still be a f5 power chord and if I want to play a rock song with a f5 power chord will I play it on the same frets a guitar playes it on.. I just got a risa lp and I don’t really get the how to play a guitar part of a song useing powerchords on the ukulele.

  16. Woodshed June 15th, 2011 10:19 am

    lindy: It would still be a power chord, but not an F. You’d have to play at a different fret to the guitar.

  17. hayley walker August 24th, 2011 9:39 am

    hello, i have just recently learned ‘smells like teen spirit’ by nirvana and im wondering instead of the ‘f’ chord what other chord can you use because it doesnt sound the same on my ukulele

  18. Woodshed August 25th, 2011 7:28 am

    hayley: Try adding the third fret on the A string (so it’s 2013).

  19. GeorgeOwen December 5th, 2011 9:04 am

    I’m having a problem with the D#5 chord, could someone please help me! Having a hard time…

  20. Alyssa April 8th, 2012 3:47 am

    How do you play E flat 5?

  21. Woodshed April 9th, 2012 10:54 am

    Alyssa and George Owen: Both those are 3366

  22. whiskey October 6th, 2012 1:48 pm

    Is a there a D3 chord? And if so, how do I play it?

  23. dannylee November 29th, 2012 9:46 pm

    hello, i need Am7 and F2 chords. thanks!

  24. Woodshed November 29th, 2012 10:31 pm

    dannylee: Am7 is all the strings open. F2 isn’t a standard chord name. My best guess is either 0013 or 0010.

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