The fretboard of the guitar is arranged chromatically in half-steps or semi-tones, such C to C# or Db is a half-step or one fret. C to D is two half-steps or two frets. As a moveable nut the capo automatically raises the pitch of the instrument one half-step for each fret.
For example, by using the chords in the key of C, namely C - F - G7 and you wished to transpose them to the key of D, you would place the capo across the second fret (two half-steps), then finger the C chord counting the proper number of frets from the capo and it becomes D. Then finger the F chord, it becomes G7, and G7 fingered becomes A7.
The same rule follows all the way down the fretboard. Every fret represents one half-step. The chart below should be helpful to all guitar players using a capo.
Capo transposing chart
First select the key or chord you are most familiar with or whatever chord you like to finger. Then trace along the line from LEFT to RIGHT to the KEY you wish to play in.
Chords or keys with capo placed at
Without capo 1st Fret 2nd Fret 3rd Fret 4th Fret 5th Fret 6th Fret
C Chord Db or C# D Eb or D# E F Gb or F#
D Chord Eb or D# E F Gb or F# G Ab or G#
E Chord F Gb or F# G Ab or G# A Bb or A#
F Chord Gb or F# G Ab or G# A Bb or A# B
G Chord Ab or G# A Bb or A# B C Db or C#
A Chord Bb or A# B C Db or C# D Eb or D#
I hope this lesson on the capo is helpful to those who are beginning to use a capo - a necessary accessory to play various songs in the proper Key on a guitar.
An example of a song that utilizes a capo across the third fret is "Free Falling" by Tom Petty.
The chords fingered below the third fret are: (tempo is / / / / /)
D - Dsus4 / Dsus4 - D - A