Tuesday Wisdom: Using A Capo

artist: misc date: 09/18/2012 category: ug news
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Tuesday Wisdom: Using A Capo

What is a capo?

A capo is a simple device used to change the pitch of the guitar. Capos mostly come in handy for playing chords. For example: A 'C' chord played with a capo on the 2nd fret will become a 'D' chord.

How to use a capo?

In order to be able to use a capo you need to know the basic notes in a musical scale. They are:

C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B and then back to C

Supposing you compose a song which is on the E major chord. Say the chords of the song are E, A, C#m, B. Now, you wish to take it one whole step up (or two half steps up). So, the chords would now become F#, B, D#m, C#. Here's how you would play it:


e-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-|
B-2-2-2-2-4-4-4-4-7-7-7-7-6-6-6-6-|
G-3-3-3-3-4-4-4-4-8-8-8-8-6-6-6-6-|
D-4-4-4-4-4-4-4-4-8-8-8-8-6-6-6-6-|
A-4-4-4-4-2-2-2-2-6-6-6-6-4-4-4-4-|
E-2-2-2-2-------------------------|
    F#       B       D#m     C#   

Now, a capo would be used to ease the job of playing these same chords. With a capo on the first fret, you just have to play E, A, C#m, B and it will have the same pitch as F#, B, D#m, C# without a capo.

Capo - 2nd fret.


e-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-4-4-4-4-2-2-2-2-|
B-0-0-0-0-2-2-2-2-5-5-5-5-4-4-4-4-|
G-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-2-6-6-6-6-4-4-4-4-|
D-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-6-6-6-6-4-4-4-4-|
A-2-2-2-2-0-0-0-0-4-4-4-4-2-2-2-2-|
E-0-0-0-0-------------------------|
    F#       B       D#m     C#    

Let's see what happens to other chords with a capo on the second fret. A star is put on the second fret indicating the capo.

--> C major becomes D major


  0  1   2   3   4   5   6  
                            
e|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
B|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|---|---|
G|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
D|-|---|-*-|---|-2-|---|---|
A|-|---|-*-|---|---|-3-|---|
E|x|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
                   D        

--> D major becomes E major


0  1   2   3   4   5   6    
                            
e|-|---|-*-|---|-2-|---|---|
B|-|---|-*-|---|---|-3-|---|
G|-|---|-*-|---|-1-|---|---|
D|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
A|x|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
E|x|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
                   E        

--> E major becomes F# major


0  1   2   3   4   5   6    
                            
e|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
B|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
G|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|---|---|
D|-|---|-*-|---|-3-|---|---|
A|-|---|-*-|---|-2-|---|---|
E|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
                   F#       

--> F major becomes G major


0  1   2   3   4   5   6    

e|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|---|---|
B|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|---|---|
G|-|---|-*-|-1-|-2-|---|---|
D|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|-4-|---|
A|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|-3-|---|
E|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|---|---|
                   G        

--> G major becomes A major


0  1   2   3   4   5   6    
                            
e|-|---|-*-|---|---|-3-|---|
B|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
G|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
D|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
A|-|---|-*-|---|-1-|---|---|
E|-|---|-*-|---|---|-2-|---|
                   A        

--> A major becomes B major


0  1   2   3   4   5   6    
                            
e|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
B|-|---|-*-|---|-4-|---|---|
G|-|---|-*-|---|-3-|---|---|
D|-|---|-*-|---|-2-|---|---|
A|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
E|x|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
                   B        

--> Ab becomes C major


0  1   2   3   4   5   6    
                            
e|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|---|---|
B|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|-4-|---|
G|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|-3-|---|
D|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|-2-|---|
A|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|---|---|
E|x|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
                   C        

--> A minor becomes B minor


0  1   2   3   4   5   6    
                            
e|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
B|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|---|---|
G|-|---|-*-|---|-3-|---|---|
D|-|---|-*-|---|-2-|---|---|
A|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
E|x|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
                   Bm       

--> D minor becomes E minor


0  1   2   3   4   5   6    
                            
e|-|---|-*-|-1-|---|---|---|
B|-|---|-*-|---|---|-3-|---|
G|-|---|-*-|---|-2-|---|---|
D|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
A|x|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
E|x|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
                   Em       

--> E minor becomes F# minor


0  1   2   3   4   5   6    
                            
e|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
B|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
G|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
D|-|---|-*-|---|-3-|---|---|
A|-|---|-*-|---|-2-|---|---|
E|o|---|-*-|---|---|---|---|
                  F#m       

--> G minor becomes A minor


0  1   2   3   4   5   6   7    
                                
e|-|---|-*-|---|---|-1-|---|---|
B|-|---|-*-|---|---|-1-|---|---|
G|-|---|-*-|---|---|-1-|---|---|
D|-|---|-*-|---|---|-1-|---|-4-|
A|-|---|-*-|---|---|-1-|---|-3-|
E|-|---|-*-|---|---|-1-|---|---|

That's how it will be when you put a capo on the second fret. I hope you've got the hang of it. You just need to know your scales and the notes on the musical scale properly and figure out which fret you need to put your capo on. Some songs that implement the use of the capo are:

  • "Payphone" by Maroon 5 - The capo is put on the 4th fret and the chords Cadd9, G, Em7 and D are played. The chords are.... well you can figure that out!

  • "Here Without You" by 3 Doors Down - The capo is put on the 1st fret.

  • "Here Comes The Sun" by The Beatles - The capo is put on the 7th fret.

    Enjoy! :)

    By DS_rockguy
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