Author Topic: Using a capo – playing different chord shapes & staying in the same key  (Read 2248 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Using a capo – playing different shape chords whilst staying in the same key

A capo can be used either to change the key of any given chord progression. This involves playing the exact same chord shapes but placing the capo somewhere on the neck away from the nut to change the key. This has the effect of raising the pitch. This is how many people think of using the capo - changing the pitch to suit a vocalists' range. Of course, if a song already requires a capo, it is possible to lower the pitch by moving it down the neck or removing it altogether. Again, this would usually be done to suit a singer's vocal range.

Alternatively, a capo can be used to play in the same key as a given chord progression. This necessitates using chords whose fingering / shapes will be different from the original chords. The reasons for doing this may vary. To find ways of playing the progression with chord shapes that are easier to play, perhaps if the given progression involves lots of barre chords or difficult shapes. It allows a way to find chords that give a different sound (chord voice) that sound more pleasing. Another reason might be when two guitarists are playing and each seeks to achieve separation in the sound and texture of the chords they play. It might be to seek chord shapes that allow lots of possibilities for embellishments if say, playing melodic or folk fingerstyle.

In this thread you will be exploring only the second of these two uses.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 02:40:09 pm by close2u »

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
To start, look at the following example chord progression.

1] Open chords:   
D,  G,  Em,  A,  G,  D

2] Capo at fret 2 to make those same chords with the following chord shapes:
C,  F,  Am,  G,  F,  C

3] Capo at fret 5 to make those same chords with the following chord shapes:
A,  D,  F#m,  E,  D,  A

4] Capo at fret 7 to make those same chords with the following chord shapes:
G,  C,  Em,  D,  C,  G

5] Capo at fret 10 to make those same chords with the following chord shapes:
E,  A,  C#m,  B,  A,  E

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Notes

a]
The capo position sometimes makes the chord shapes you must choose to keep in the same key as the open chord progression nice and easy to play. Capo 7 above is an obvious candidate for easy shape chords with the capo. Sometimes the capo position makes the chord shapes you must choose to keep in the same key as the open chord progression difficult and awkward to play. Capo 10 above is really a bit yuk, both because of the barre chords needed and because the access on an acoustic to those high frets is very difficult.

b]
The initial chord progression was in the key of D, it started on the chord D, using a D shape. When the capo positions were applied, moving sequentially further up the neck, the starting shapes became C, A, G,
E.

D, C, A, G, E ...

You should recognise those five letters.
If rearranged, you get C, A, G, E, D.
Bingo. The beautiful CAGED system.
The start / end of the five letters can move so long as the actual sequential ordering stays the same.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Let's expand on that a little.

Example 1

Say you have a chord progression starting on a C shape chord in open position (in other words C Major chord). To figure out your capo positions, you need to figure how you can play a C Major chord using the shapes of CAGED in sequential order starting with C.

C shape (you already have that in open position)
A shape (capo at 3)
G shape (capo at 5)
E shape (capo at 8 )
D shape (capo at 10)

CAGED is what you should see within that framework.


Example 2

Say you have a chord progression starting on a G shape chord in open position (in other words G Major). To figure out your capo positions, you need to figure how you can play a G Major chord using the shapes of CAGED in sequential order starting with G.

G shape (you already have that in open position)
E shape (capo at 3)
D shape (capo at 5)
C shape (capo at 7)
A shape (capo at 10)

CAGED switches to become GEDCA.


Example 3

Say you have a chord progression starting on an E shape chord in open position (in other words E Major). To figure out your capo positions, you need to figure how you can play an E Major chord using the shapes of CAGED in sequential order starting with E.

E shape (you already have that in open position)
D shape (capo at 2)
C shape (capo at 4)
A shape (capo at 7)
G shape (capo at 9)

CAGED switches to become EDCAG
« Last Edit: July 24, 2020, 08:42:16 am by close2u »

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
If you look at the examples above, you hopefully can see that a pattern is apparent for the number of frets to raise the capo between each particular pair of chord shapes within the CAGED sequence.

From C shape to A shape it is always 3 frets higher.

From A shape to G shape it is always 2 frets higher.

From G shape to E shape it is always 3 frets higher.

From E shape to D shape it is always 2 frets higher.

From D shape to C shape it is always 2 frets higher.

I have created a table to show this for all five combinations of the arrangement of CAGED with a different starting chord shape below.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2020, 08:49:13 am by close2u »

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
I have made a much more concise and easy to read version of this same information - a cheat sheet if you will - below.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Notes

a]
In the cheat sheet, every upper case letter (spelling out CAGED) describes a chord shape.


b]
If these are played in the open position then they will of course be identical to the names of five matching major chords.


c]
Every +2 or +3 describes how many frets to move the capo up the neck so you can play the same actual chord using the next named shape.


d]
If the initial or starting chord shape is played with a capo, not in the open position, then the CAGED describe only the shape, not the actual name of the chord being played.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 02:43:03 pm by close2u »

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Example:


Chord = C Major

a] open

b] capo +3 frets (so capo at fret three and use an A shape to play a C Major chord)

c] capo +2 additional frets (so capo at fret five and use a G shape to play a C Major chord)

d] capo +3 additional frets (so capo at fret 8 and use an E shape to play a C Major chord)

e] capo +2 additional frets (so capo at fret 10 and use a D shape to play a C Major chord)

f] capo +2 additional frets (so capo at fret 12 and use a C shape to play a C Major chord)

Note that f] is simply an octave repeat of the open position which is why I only spoke of four capo options above. The fifth option takes you back to the start.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
So now, no matter which of the five chord shapes you are starting from, you can always figure out how many frets to capo up from that position. That holds good if your start point is open position chord shapes or if you are starting from having a capo on and you need to count up or down from that position. To count down you would just reverse the direction of the arrows and move the capo down the same number of frets.

To know the shapes of all other chords in the progression, you can translate directly using the roman numeral system of labelling chords in a key.

Below is an amended diagram with all seven diatonic chords for the keys of C, A, G, E and D plus their Roman numeric labels.

Notes

a]
Diatonic simply means the chords within a given key.

b]
Chords labelled with Roman numerals are always shown having Major chords in upper case and minor chords in lower case characters.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Example

Let us suppose that there is a song you want to play and have learned it with capo at fret two using chord shapes G, C, D and Em. These equate to the actual chords of A, D, E and F#m. I have marked this starting position on the diagram by placing a red box around the G shape.

Options.
1]
Capo down two frets (-2 by reversing the direction of the arrow from G) and play the shapes A, D, E and F#m. These are now obviously open chords with no capo required (although F#m is a barre chord).

2]
Capo up an additional three frets (+3) from the start point (that is at fret 5) and play chord shapes E, A, B and C#m.

3]
Capo up an additional five frets (+3 then +2 cumulatively) from the start point (that is fret 7) and play chord shapes D, G, A and Bm.

4]
Capo up an additional seven frets (+3 then +2 then +2 cumulatively) from the start point (that is fret 9) and play chord shapes C, F, G and Em.

In all cases you will be playing the I, IV, V and vi chords. In all cases your actual chords will be A, D, E and F#m.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
You could mark all of these options on the cheat sheet as shown:


Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Now it is your turn.
Use the chord chart templates to take songs you have already learned and find a way of using a capo to play those exact same chords, in the same key, using different chord shapes. As can be seen from the examples, each starting position could give rise to four options before the repeat (octave) chord shapes come back around. Some will be preferable to others as they will involve only open chord shapes and no barres, or simply because they sound better.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
I have created a few chord charts that you could use as templates ... some simple three chord songs, some a little more challenging.

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Blondie - The Tide Is High


Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Ben E. King - Stand By Me


Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Sam Cooke - What A Wonderful World


Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
John Denver - Annie's Song




Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
I have created a pdf containing all graphics / images / chord charts available to download for anyone who would like it here.

:)
« Last Edit: July 24, 2020, 08:48:10 am by close2u »

Online sairfingers

  • Stadium Superstar
  • ******
  • Posts: 1634
  • Good Vibes 95
  • 󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿“Keep that one, mark it fab”. Paul McCartney.
What a lot of work you’ve put into this Richard! This is another brilliant resource that can be dipped in and out of as required. Thank you and vibes.
Studying Intermediate Course, Folk Fingerstyle and Blues modules.
Pickin’ an’ lickin’.....😎.
Martin D28 : Gibson SG : Boss Katana 50.
Road case : https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=48801.0

Offline stitch101

  • All Time Legend
  • *******
  • Posts: 5459
  • Good Vibes 249
If you look at the examples above, you hopefully can see that a pattern is apparent for the number of frets to raise the capo between each particular pair of chord shapes within the CAGED sequence.

From C shape to A shape it is always 3 frets higher.

From A shape to G shape it is always 2 frets higher.

From G shape to E shape it is always 3 frets higher.

From E shape to D shape it is always 2 frets higher.

From D shape to C shape it is always 2 frets higher.

I have created a table to show this for all five combinations of the arrangement of CAGED with a different starting chord shape below.

To add to Richard's for finding the capo placement is where the furthest root note is
up the neck is where you place the capo.

Using his examples
C chord the root notes are on the B string first fret and the A string 3rd fret.
Place the capo on the 3rd fret. The next letter in CAGED is A.
So your A chord is actually a C chord relative to the Capo.
To move the Capo to the next placement. The next root not is on the G string 5th fret.
So that's where you put the capo. The next letter is G so you play G.

Using Richards placement chart figure out where the Root notes are. This kills two
Birds with one stone. You learn how to place a capo for the chord voicing you want
and you learn your root note of the chords all over the neck by learn root note for 5
chords.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 09:17:05 pm by close2u »

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Following on from the helpful comment by stitch ... refer to this ascending series of C Major chord shapes with capo shown as a yellow line and, root notes shown in red and other chord notes in black.
Note that the yellow capo lines align perfectly with the fret position of a root note of the previous chord shape as stitch describes - that is, aligns with the root note that is furthest along the neck.



I will add have now added this new graphic to the pdf I made available to download from Dropbox also.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 09:16:22 pm by close2u »

Online close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 14218
  • Good Vibes 629
  • Teesside, North East England.
Alternatively, a capo can be used to play in the same key as a given chord progression ... The reasons for doing this may vary.

I could have added that this is also a good way to layer guitar sounds playing the same chords but creating different sonic qualities if multi-track recording guitar parts.

 

Get The Forum As A Mobile App