How to Play a C Power Chord on Guitar (Tips and Variations)

Written by: Cody

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

If you’re looking for yet another simple and powerful chord to rock out on your guitar, then the C power chord is a top contender.

This two-note chord is easy to play and sounds great, making it a favorite among guitarists of all skill levels.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to play the C power chord on guitar so that you can start rocking out in no time.

Like my previous guitar chord explainer guides, I’ll go over 4 variations (voicings) of the C power chord so that you have some variety to choose from.

Lastly, I’ll highlight a few songs that prominently feature the C power chord so that you can listen to them and practice them yourself.

Let’s jump in!

How to Play a C Power Chord

Ah the C power chord… If only I had a penny for every time I’ve played this one. Like the D power chord (or any other power chord for that matter) this one also just uses two notes.

I believe the easiest way to play the C power chord is by using the diagram I’ve created above. That being said, some people rather use their pinky finger instead of their ring finger to play 5th.

Regardless, here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to play the C power chord:

  1. Locate your A string (second string from the top) and press your index finger on the 3rd fret. This is your root note (C)
  2. Now place your ring finger on the D string (third string from the top) at the 5th fret. This is your fifth note (G).
  3. Strum these two strings at once (avoiding or palm muting all other strings).
  4. Congratulations, you’re now playing a C power chord!

To ensure you’re playing it properly, listen to the sound file below which provides an example of a C power chord played on an electric guitar.

C Power Chord Variations

The C power chord has a few variations that I thought would be worth highlighting. Below, I’ve listed what I believe to be the most commonly used variations of the C power chord.

Play around with them and get a feel for each. Who knows, maybe you’ll like one over another.

Variation #1

The first variation is very similar to our original C power chord. The only difference is that this variation adds your pinky finger to the 5th fret of the 3rd string from the bottom (the G string).

This adds an extra C note to the chord making it sound fuller.

Variation #2

The second variation starts on the low E string.

To play this voicing you’ll need to press your index finger down on the 8th fret of the first string from the top. This is your root note (C).

Then, you’ll use your ring finger and place it on the 10th fret of the A string.

This voicing is a bit more grungy as it makes use of the thickest string of the guitar (the low E).

Variation #3

The third variation is quite a bit different than the typically power chord shape you often see.

This variation starts on the 5th fret of the G string. You’ll want to play this note with your index finger.

Then, you’ll want to stretch your pinky up up by 3 frets and play the 8th fret of the B string. This is your G note.

This voicing uses thinner strings and can sound great on an acoustic guitar or clean electric guitar. But really, the possibilities are endless.

Variation #4

The 4th variation is, in my opinion, the most simple of them all. Although, similar to the 3rd variation, this isn’t what most people think of when they image a power chord structure.

This voicing simply makes use of your index finger to play both notes.

Place your index finger on the 8th fret of both the B and high E strings. Be sure to avoid or mute all strings above it.

How to Practice the C Power Chord

Power chords are all pretty similar to my advice for how to practice them more or less never changes.

Therefore, here are a few tried and true tips to help you get started:

  1. Start slow. When you’re first learning a new chord, like the C power chord, it’s important to go slow and make sure that you’re playing both notes in the correct order. Count the frets if you need to so that you ensure that your root note is starting on the third fret of the A string. Once you’ve got it down, you can speed up.
  2. Use a metronome. Metronomes help you keep a constant rhythm as you play. This helps improve your sense of timing and makes it easier to play with other people.
  3. Listen to recordings of the chord being played. This will give you an idea of how the chord should sound and will help you to make any necessary adjustments. Feel free to check out the sound file above or listen to the songs I mention below.
  4. Listen back to a recording of yourself playing the chord. This helps you to identify mistakes you might not hear as you’re playing. Use a beginner’s DAW to help you record your C power chord during your practicing session.
  5. Don’t be afraid to practice. It might not be the most fun thing in the world, but practicing is essential if you want to get better at playing the C power chord. Set aside some time each day to work on it, power chords aren’t very difficult so it shouldn’t take long to get the hang of it.

Songs That Use the C Power Chord

Below, I’ve highlighted 3 songs that use the C power chord along with a preview of each one’s tabs. If you’d like to learn the entire song, just click on the “Full tabs” link of each.

1. “Eye Of The Tiger” By Survivor

Full tabs

2. “All The Small Things” By Blink-182

Full tabs

3. “Fly Away” By Lenny Kravitz

Full tabs

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! You can now play a C power chord on your guitar.

Be sure to experiment with the different variations we talked about, and see what works best for you.

Once you get comfortable with this basic guitar chord, you can start working on others in the C family. As always, practice makes perfect, so keep at it until that sweet sounding C power chord is second nature to you.

If need a little more visual direction for how to play the C power chord on guitar check out this video:

About Cody
Cody is the founder of Musician Tuts, a free tutorial hub for musicians. He has over 15 years of experience playing a variety of instruments and dabbling in audio engineering. He spends his days blogging, listening to Spotify, and playing music.

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