Power Chord Alternatives: Five Voicings to Try

In this post I discuss 5 chord voicings that you can play as alternatives to power chords.

Power chords are great, but they have a very specific sound based on the root and the 5th. The five voicings I discuss here will add a bit of spice to your chords. They will also produce a much bigger sound compared to the standard power chords.

Try moving these chords around in different positions and experiment! Note that some of these voicings rely on open strings, and in certain positions the open strings will change the name of the chord. In those situations you can mute the open strings if they are producing an overly dissonant sound.

Here are the chords we will cover:

chord chart

1. Alex Lifeson “Rush” Chord (sus4)

Alex Lifeson “Rush” Chord (sus4)

Consists of: Root, 4th, 5th (1-4-5)

This sus4 chord is known as the Alex Lifeson chord. Alex Lifeson is the guitarist of the band Rush, and he uses this chord frequently in various Rush songs. It has since become a staple in Progressive Rock and Metal music. This chord is also often used by John Petrucci the guitarist of Dream Theater. This chord voicing is played across all six strings of the guitar. The result is a huge sound that will fill up a room when played with distortion.

2. Other Rush Chord (sus4)

Other Rush Chord (sus4)

Consists of: Root, 4th, 5th (1-4-5)

Another sus4 chord that I refer to as the “other” Rush chord. Guitarist Alex Lifeson uses this chord often in Rush’s music. Note the use of the open high B and E strings, which opens up the chord and makes it sound fatter compared to a standard power chord. When playing this chord try arpeggiating each note starting from the bass note. You’ll instantly be reminded of the classic Rush sound. 

3. Proggy Chord (sus2)

Proggy Chord (sus2)

Consists of: Root, 2nd, 5th (1-2-5)

This sus2 chord is a staple in Progressive Metal music. You’ll hear it often used in the music of Queensryche and Dream Theater. John Petrucci discussed this chord in his Invisible Monster lesson. In this example I used an E chord, so you can play the chord using all six strings on the guitar to get a huge sound. But as you shift the chord voicing to different positions you may need to mute the open strings.

4. Proggy Chord v2 aka Devin Townsend Chord (sus2)

Proggy Chord v2 aka Devin Townsend Chord (sus2)

Consists of: Root, 2nd, 5th (1-2-5)

This voicing is a variation of the Proggy sus2 Chord. Guitarist Devin Townsend is a big fan of this chord and this particular voicing. In this example the chord is played across all six strings, utilizing the open B and E strings like we saw earlier with the Other Rush Chord. As you shift this chord to different positions pay attention to those open strings as in certain cases you need to mute them. 

5. Genesis Chord (F/Bb)

Genesis Chord (F/Bb)

Consists of: 4th (bass), Root, 3rd, 5th (4-1-3-5)

This chord is the most ominous sounding chord in the group. It’s a major chord with the fourth in the bass. I came across this chord from Rick Beato’s Genesis lesson (9:50 mark). In the video Rick analyzes the chord progression where this Genesis chord was used to deliver the “signature” Genesis sound. In order to get that signature sound you’ll need to play a chord that is a half-step above this chord first. So for example you would play a Gb chord and then the Genesis F/Bb chord. That’s how you get the signature Genesis sound!

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