Transposing With A Capo (quick guide)
The capo is VERY useful which creates a 'mobile nut' or zero fret when clamped
on the fretboard. You can make artificial barres with it and transpose chord
progressions. It's also a great way to spice up your own guitar playing for
personal music you are working on. If you have a chord progression that moves
from D major to A major, to E major, all played as open string chords, you
can transpose this from D to G, you can place the capo on the 5th fret of the
guitar. You can then use the same open string voicings to play the chords G
major, D major, and A major.
I have included a simple chart of
popular MAJOR chords and what they will be with a capo on fret one, two,
three, and four. This is to help you understand
how this all works. The chart goes like this. It runs horizontally, as you
can see. No capo means the major chord played by itself. For instance, column
one is the chord A. In the next column, it shows what "A" would sound
if you had a capo on the first fret. Then the second fret, and so forth.
The only reason this is advanced is because it considers the use of keys
rather than individual chords. As stated above, we can see that a capo allows
us to use familiar chord shapes in unfamiliar keys. Whilst these can be worked
out by subtracting semitones on a chord by chord basis, it is much easier to
think in terms of the key and chord position. For instance, if we take the
key of Bb;
Thinking in terms of chord positions rather than names, if the song contained
Bb Eb F and Gm minor chords, we consider these as 1, 4, 5 and 6 position chords.
We can now decide which key we want to play in.We now play 1, 4, 5 and 6 position
chords in the key that we have transposed to.
Similarly, any scales should be also be played in the key that we have transposed
to. It is important to remember that when we say we are transposing to a new
key, although we are thinking and playing in terms of more familiar chords
and keys, we are still really playing those original chords in the original
Exercise 1: Key of G
We want to play in the key of G, and this is three semitones lower, therefore
we place the capo behind the third fret. This allows you to play the G chord
on the 3rd fret with the capo playing in an E open chord formation. Neat huh?!
If you have a song in the key of G with the chords G, C, and D, you could
change the song into the key of A without having to re-learn it. You would
just put a capo on the 2nd fret, and play the chord shapes G, C, and D. These
chord shapes will now sound a whole step higher. They will sound like the chords
A, D and E.
No matter what fret you have the capo on, when you play a G chord shape, so
in your mind you will always think of it as a G chord. This is a G chord shape.
If you were to capo the guitar at the 2nd fret and play a G chord shape, then
the chord sound would be that of an A chord.
This is the main idea of using a capo. You are using familiar, maybe even
easier chord shapes to get the chord sound of less familiar, more difficult
chords. If you have a Bb chord in a song, you could put the capo at the 1st
fret, and play an A chord shape. But you will get a Bb chord sound.