#1
Literally just fell in love with the capo!! I learned the song "Winter Is All Over You" by First Aid Kit. Capo is on the 3rd fret. My question is, I need to tune down because the vocals are a bit high for me. So does the Am,...etc, from the capo'd 3rd fret remain the same Am if capo'd on the 2nd or 1st? I have the guitar tuned to standard, otherwise. Thanks in advance!!
#2
Hi! Yes it does. Simple answer haha

Putting capo on 1st fret will in a sense be the "lowest capo-ed sound" while on let's say the 10th fret (the highest physically possible) would be the "highest capo-ed sound".
Chords all remain the same (simply put to understand). Move the capo away from the recommended if you think its too high or low. Hope your vocals match better now!

Edit : To fully understand the use of the capo and how it changes key, read Tony and CaptainCranky's explainations below!
Last edited by AORNova at Jul 13, 2017,
#3
Quote by tamaralangreck
Literally just fell in love with the capo!! I learned the song "Winter Is All Over You" by First Aid Kit. Capo is on the 3rd fret. My question is, I need to tune down because the vocals are a bit high for me. So does the Am,...etc, from the capo'd 3rd fret remain the same Am if capo'd on the 2nd or 1st? I have the guitar tuned to standard, otherwise. Thanks in advance!!
Well Junior, the capo is indeed an apparently simple and effective tool to change key, or get specialized sounds from you guitar.

But there is a trap, one which it seems, you've fallen into. That is, to make full use of the capo, you have to fully understand a couple points of music theory.

First, (and foremost), you must completely understand the "Chromatic Scale". That's so you can determine the "key you'll be in", when using a certain base set of OPEN chords. For example, using the open chords for the key of G, (G (I), C (IV), D (V), and placing a capo on the 5th fret, will net you the chords of the key of C, "C" is now a "G shape", "F" is now a "C shape", and finally "F" is now a "D shape".

Wanting to sing further complicates the matter, since you should understand exactly what your vocal range is, and be able to reference it in "Scientific Pitch Notation" "C4" (note no dash between the number and letter), is "Middle C". The octave's notes above it will all be in the "4th octave", until you get to C again, which will be "C5. The same works going down the scale, since the notes leading up to "C4" will all be in the 3rd octave, and Labeled thus :C3, D3, E3, and so on.

As you quickly seemed to have found out, sometimes players use the capo to raise the key. You apparently can't sing as high as the person who uses the capo to raise the key. You need to lower the capo, or perhaps take it off altogether, DEPENDING on YOUR VOCAL RANGE, not a simple "love of the capo".

A third, and very , very important reason to use a capo, is to DROP the key of a song. This requires to be very familiar with the open shapes which make keys while playing without a capo. Normally these are the major chords which make up major keys, the "I (1)", the "4 (IV), and the "5 (V), of any given major scale.

So, let's say we have a song in the key of G. Those chords would be G, C, & D", playing in the open position. It's just a little too high for us. So, we want to play in F. But, we can't do that, without tuning the guitar down a full note.(2 semitones), to D-d.

But, if we play in D (open chords) D, G, A, and put a capo on the 3rd fret, BINGO we'll be in the key of F, using the chords from D. Simple huh?

For an example of this, listen to Dire Straits, "Romeo and Juliet". Mark Knopfler is a stone cold baritone, yet he capos his reso on the 3rd fret to play the song.

The key of F played "open" has 2 barre chords, (F & Bb), and is a humongous pain in the ass. But D has all open chords, in all their chimey, sustainy open string droney goodness. Problem solved!

Scientific Pitch Notation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_pitch_notation

Chromatic scale: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_scale
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jul 12, 2017,
#5
Tony DonePlease read my post above and see if it makes sense to you. I've been trying to tweak my answer to questions about the use of a capo for some time. Thanks in advance!
#6
Captaincranky 

It reads good to me. A problem at least some of us geriatrics have is that we tend to take stuff like capo movement and changing to another set of easy chord shapes for granted. 

That kind of capo and chord shape shifting is also done to get specific chord voicings, maybe not necessarily easier. I'm still a bit mystified by a Ry Cooder vid, where he has an electric bari that is tuned down three semitones from standard open G, and has a capo on the 3rd fret. Apparently it wasn't for other songs in the gig, he must just have liked the sound.
#7
Tony Done Thanks Tony

From what I hear in my own instruments, attaching a capo take the tuning of the open box out of the equation. The result is usually "purer" sounding notes, with a bit less bass and harmonic content.

As for Mr Cooder's decision about the banjo(?), it could have been that which I mentioned above, or, he normally plays the particular instrument tuned down 3 semis, or, the nose candy was extra good that night, and he simply wasn't aware of the paradox or simply didn't give a f***.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jul 12, 2017,
#8
Captaincranky 

Yeah, I've also thought that the capoes sound is qualitatively different from the open sound. More immediacy or punch, better note separation.

Ry was playing a baritone electric, IIRC  some kind of tele. Since he is tone fiend, I would guess it had something to do with what he was hearing. From what I have read, he isn't into psychoactives.
#9
Not saying anything new here, I just want to make it as simple as possible.  To match your voice and prevent the problem of having to use nasty chords, a  combination of capo placement and converting the chords to ones you like is the way to go.
Example:  For a song listed in Eb you could use the capo on the first fret and and play the chords in progression of D to stay in key with the song or capo anywhere to match your voice.
#10
skido13 Unfortunately, quite a few factors can conspire to make the issue very complicated.

For example, I have a somewhat average ear. I'm a baritone, who was forced to surrender his, "paranoid delusion of tenor-hood", many years ago. To the upside, I can read music. (Although I'm not about to sit down at the piano and be able to sight read and play, Beethoven's 5th)

Those things being said, I'm always forced to interpolate several factors, to come up with a, to me, playable and singable version of a song in which I'm interested. So,listening to the recorded version of the song, checking out a tab of it, and reading, (if available), the song on sheet music, plus YouTube videos, all play a part for me.

I also know movable versions of open chords, which comes in really handy on country tunes, where quite often, a capo is in play. So, you fiddle around with "movable open chords", and when you think you've got it, slap the capo on.

At first look, using a capo is a devilishly simple concept, but alas, I fear that really isn't the case.

(Unless of course, I'm just really stupid, which may or may not be the case)
#12
Tony DoneWell, that's going to depend on the scale length. The 25 and a 1/2 inchers are a bitch of a stretch open, 24 & 1/2" inches, a lot easier, despite of the "mere 3/4" difference.

Note, I'm talking in general, such as reaching, (with your pinky), the 5th fret A from a D chord, or the 5th fret E or a, from
A major open.

You really need to have your wrist in the absolute correct position to hit those notes reliably with the longer scale. (Note, I wear a men's large glove (US sizing), for reference).
#13
Captaincranky 

I've got small hands, and while my reach isn't great, but I can get a decent amount of fretting pressure with my pinky. For example, I can do 002255 comfortably with 13-56 strings. That might be partly, or even wholly, due to using a heavy brass bottleneck for a long time, dunno. One thing I have never been able to figure out is why the span is almost 1/2" wider on my picking hand than my fretting hand. You would think that 50-odd years of playing would have made the span on my fretting hand wider. Maybe I was born with a lot wider span on my picking hand, and maybe it has got less than it was, again, dunno.
#14
I have small hands and often use the classical positioning of the instrument (left leg for a righty, neck at 45 deg) to ease the wrist angle to get that pinky reach.
#15
Quote by Tony Done
Captaincranky

It reads good to me. A problem at least some of us geriatrics have is that we tend to take stuff like capo movement and changing to another set of easy chord shapes for granted. 

That kind of capo and chord shape shifting is also done to get specific chord voicings, maybe not necessarily easier. I'm still a bit mystified by a Ry Cooder vid, where he has an electric bari that is tuned down three semitones from standard open G, and has a capo on the 3rd fret. Apparently it wasn't for other songs in the gig, he must just have liked the sound.

An interesting example I noticed regarding specific chord voicings came up when I watched the Tom Petty documentary and noticed that on Free Fallin', Petty plays E/A/B shapes with a capo on the first fret, and Campbell is playing D/G/A with a capo on the third.
#16
FrogstarWorldA 

Yeah, getting the right chord voicing for what you want to play or how you play is important. You look at bluegrass picking, a lot seem to use chords in C for everything, and use a capo to get the key they want. You will also sometimes see country guitarists using a high capo to emulate mandolin.
#17
When you move a capo up and down a neck, it's essentially transposing. The way you play will remain the same, the difference is that the pitch will be slightly different. So move the capo until the pitch (or key) compliments your vocal range.
#18
Not sure why but when I play songs that use a capo, it seems easier to play and much more forgiving -sounds awesome even if I'm sloppy. One of my favorite songs to play is "Give me Love, Give me peace on Earth" by George Harrison with the capo on the 3rd. Such a fun and fairly easy song to play that makes you look and sound like a pro and well, it's a great and beautiful song that isn't overplayed and cliche.
#19
Quote by hotrodney71
...[ ]...]Not sure why but when I play songs that use a capo, it seems easier to play and much more forgiving -sounds awesome even if I'm sloppy....[ ]...
Well, because the capo shortens the scale, and diminishes the top nut clearance to zero, that's why. It also drops the overall string height a fair bit.

Guitars are tuned to a specific resonance, with no strings fretted. In other words, open. When you apply a capo, it changes the overall harmonic structure (I believe it thins it out a bit), as well as raising the lowest note, taking out the bass "boom".

I sometimes add a sub octave with a pedal to restore the perception of bass. But that's just me.Up to the 11th fret, E-6 string, the synthesized octave would be lower than the E-6 itself. I believe that holds true for the A-5 string up to the 6th (?) fret, but I simply don't feel like doing the math. (Actually I know it does, since the 7th fret on the A-5 is E3, and the syth octave would be E2, the open pitch of the E-6)..*
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jul 13, 2017,