Capo’s and Transposing…




So, I’ve had a lot of inquiries over the few years I’ve been playing, about capo’s.  “How can I play this without a capo?” (transpose it!), “I don’t have a capo and when I play this it sounds very wrong” (because it needs to be transposed to remove the capo!), “You talk about transposing.  What is that?” and on and on.  Here’s some explanations :)

“What is a capo?”  It’s a tool used to change the pitch of your guitar.  The higher the fret number it’s placed on, the higher the pitch.

“What is transposing?” Transposing is changing the key you’re playing in.

“Will transposing combined with the use of a capo, keep the song in the same key?” -Yes and no.  Say a song using no capo is in the key of ‘A’.  If you transposed down 2 half steps and put a capo on the 2nd fret, that ‘A’ becomes a ‘G’ so yes, the key ‘technically’ changes but only because an ‘A’ transposed down 2 frets becomes a ‘G’. Make sense?  The transposed chords will still play right along with the song as if you were using no capo and still in they key of  ‘A’.   All chords will change depending on what fret you’re going to transpose to and put the capo on. For me a capo is simply my best friend!  It get’s rid of those nasty, scary barre chords! Lol!  I highly suggest buying one or  you can even make one at home, just google it ;)

For example– Most beginners hate the Bm chord. So if you want to remove the Bm chord, then you put a capo on the 2nd fret and the Bm becomes and easy Am!  (All the other chords will change as well, which sometimes makes another easy chord change to a harder one.  You just have to decide which hard one you hate the most!)

Try it!- Play an ‘A’ chord.  Now put a capo on the 2nd fret and play a ‘G’ chord.  They sound the same :)  Obviously as you transpose to higher and higher frets the chord will sound higher but still be the same.  On most songs, when you see the artist live (assuming it’s not a one person band) you’ll see the different guitarists playing different chords during the same song.  That’s because some are using a capo, some are playing ‘regular’ or  ‘easy’ chords and some are playing barre chords.  It gives the song a fuller sound combining the different ways.   But all these different ‘no capo/capo/non-barre/barre’  ways of playing will still play right along with each other :)

I use this website- when I’m tabbing songs and want to transpose to a different fret.  You just type the chords in and click the ‘Higher’ or ‘Lower’ buttons and the chords will change.  You would click the ‘Lower’ button to add a capo and the ‘Higher’ button to remove a capo.  Don’t forget how many times you clicked to know what fret to put the capo on ;)  And remember:  You have to transpose ALL the chords of the song.  Not just the single chord you hate ;)

Removing the capo if you don’t have one- If a song says “Capo on 5” , then you would use that transpose tool and click the ‘Higher’ button 5 times (each click is like moving the capo one fret like, to 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 and to gone!  The chords will all change and the need for the capo is now gone.  It’s whether or not you can play what the chords have been transposed to ;) But they will still play right along to the capo’d version.  

But really, go buy a capo.  It’ll change your life if you’re struggling with barre chords or just beginning to play and want to jump right in.  A capo makes it easy!! :)




6 thoughts on “Capo’s and Transposing…”

  1. Hi! So, I am trying to figure out the chords for a song that I can’t find anywhere (Find Rest by Dara Maclean) and I can’t seem to find which capo it’s on. I don’t know if there are really hard barre chrods or if there is a capo, but do you have any tips for finding which capo a song is on?

    1. When I’m figuring out chords I start with no capo and then move it down fret by fret until I find the progression that will play right along with the song. I’ll have to look up the song and see if I can figure out the progression and on what fret.

    2. Alright, it’s capo on 1 and the basic progression is C F G F C at least for the intro and 1st verse (there are step downs in between chords but they shouldn’t be too hard to get.) That should get you started :)

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