This Article is About
chord shapes
using a capo
root note
g chord
basic chords
Using A Capo To Change Keys - Learn How To Use A Capo To Change Keys On Guitar
Join 1000's of Authors at StreetArticles Today!

Using A Capo to Change Keys   -   Learn How to Use A Capo to Change Keys on Guitar

A capo is simple device that allows us to change keys on guitar quickly and easily. There are several types of capos around but in the essence, they all work in the same way – by pressing down the strings across the fret. It replaces the barre grip with your index finger, leaving all fingers free. In order to start using a capo to change keys you need to be familiar with several concepts which I’m going to explain here in detail.

- First you need to be able to find notes on E, A and D strings relatively quickly.

This is essential because the lowest root notes of the basic chord shapes (including maj, min, maj7, min7, dom7, sus2/4, min7b5, diminished and others) are found on those strings.

- You need to know all the basic chords in open position

Like Am, D, C, E, G, Em, A… etc

- You need to be familiar with the concept of root note.

A root note is note from which the chord starts and gets its name from. For example, G chord – root note is G and it’s on the 3rd fret E string, or Am – root note is A, on the open A string, D chord – root note on the open D string... Same with other chords.

- You need to know the major scale formula, and which chords are in which key

Formula for the major scale is T T S T T T S. T – tone; S – Semitone. Semitone corresponds to one fret distance on guitar between notes, and tone is a two fret distance. For example G to A on 6th string is one tone. G – G# or Ab (same notes) is one semitone. So in order to form a major scale you would start on any of the 12 notes in music, and apply that formula.

Lets form the G major scale as an example.

Notes would G (T) A (T) B (S) C (T) D (T) E (T) F# (s) G.

Now we have notes of the G major scale, but how do we know which chords belong to this scale?

There’s formula for that too. First let’s give those notes numbers, 1-7.

(1) G (2) A (3) B (4) C (5) D (6) E (7) F#

The formula is:

1. Maj 2. min 3. min 4. Maj 5. Maj 6. min 7. diminished

So going by that formula chords in the key of G would be:

G maj (I) A min (ii) B min (iii) C maj (IV) D maj (V) E min (vi) F# dim (vii)

The same principle can be applied to any other note. Btw, this is really powerful knowledge ;)

- You need to be familiar with the CAGED system (the most important)

CAGED system is the way guitar works, the way in which the notes are organized on guitar neck. It directly comes from guitar tuning. It is the key thing to learn if you want to understand how guitar harmony works, and really “unlock” your playing.

You probably know how to play E chord and A chord, as well as Em and Am, right? Well, if you put a barre with your index finger on the first fret and form the E chord shape with the rest of your fingers, then you would hold an F chord. Why? Because of the root note which is now F on the first fret of the 6th (low E) string. You can also put a barre with your index finger on the 5th fret, and with the rest of your fingers you would form the E chord shape. That would be the A chord, because the note on the 5th fret E string is A - which is the root note.

Let’s try with A shape. If you use a barre with your index finger and put it for example on 3rd fret, and with the rest of your fingers you form the A chord shape, you would play a C chord, because the root note for the A shape is on the A string, and the note on the 3rd fret A string is C.

Those are the E and A chord shapes, and they’re one of the five shapes on guitar. Other shapes are D shape, C shape, and G shape. EDCAG or CAGED (because it has a catchy name). They are the basic shapes from which all other chords are formed.

With those five shapes you can move chords across the guitar neck, and play any chord in any position that you want. :)

E and A shapes are mostly used shapes as they’re the easiest of the five to learn and move around the neck (although they do require that you build some finger strength).

Using a capo to change keys…

What the guitar capo does is, as I said, it works as a barre and leaves your fingers free. That allows you to easily change keys on guitar, without changing the chord shapes.

Let’s try with some examples

We’re in the key of G, and our chord progression goes I – vi – IV - V, which is G – Em – C – D.

If we want to switch our key to A and keep the chord progression the chords would be different.

But if we use capo, and put it on the 2nd fret, we can form a G chord shape, but that would now be the A chord, because of the root note remember? Now we can form the same chord shapes (G shape, Em shape, C shape, D shape), but we would be in the key of A and the chords we would actually play would be A (G shape) - F#m (Em shape) – D (C shape) – E (D shape).

That is how capo allows us to easily change keys on guitar. :)

We can also use capo to stay in key but change the position on guitar neck. For example, we’re in the key of G with the same chord progression, and we want to change position (or shape of the chords) but stay in that key. We can put the capo on the 2nd fret and our G chord would now have the F chord shape but it would still be G of course. If put it on the 3rd fret and we want to play our G chord we would form an E shape chord. If we put the capo on the 5th fret, our G chord would have a D shape. Capo on the 7th and our G would have a C shape, on the 9th fret G chord would be played with an A shape.

That’s the beauty of knowing the CAGED system, and all other stuff that I mentioned here.

Try this with other chords, and you’ll see how easy it is to move them around. :)

Learning to use a capo can really make a big difference in your playing. Sometimes when the melody of the song is too high or too low to sing, you can use a capo and try to sing it in a different key. That’s the main use of capo.

If you want to progress fast on guitar, these are some the fundamental stuff that you need to know along with learning songs by ear, it can boost your guitar playing to a whole new level. :)

I covered a lot of stuff in this article, if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments below and I will answer them.


Street Talk

nixan  

nicely explained, well done.:) i am just wondering, will the cheaper capos last some decent time (do they pay off), or should i buy more expensive ones from the start? thanks in advance!

Reply
  about 3 years ago
  

Don't buy really cheap ones. I used to have one... The rubber on them will wear off pretty soon, and it will be very hard to get the clear tone from the strings when you try to put the capo on. My best recommendation would be Dunlop 4650BK which is not expensive but it does it's job perfectly, and it will last.

Reply
  about 3 years ago
You May Also Like
how to play the guitar
You may be new to playing guitar, you may be thinking of buying a guitar, have just bought one, have one gathering dust in your attic/junk room or you may be someone who already knows how to play the guitar and simply wants to improve their technique. What I want…
By: Vernon Greene in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Mar 10, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

The Roman Numeral System Explained In Easy Steps
Roman Numeral System Have you ever heard guitarists and other musicians go on about chord using I-VI-V in "A" and never knew what they meant? I will run through what they mean by these terms. The Roman Numeral system exists so that the chords contained within a scale can be…
By: gary4 in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Apr 17, 2012  
0
  Likes: 1

Starting Guitar Chords
The basic foundation of guitar music is chords. One of the first things you will do as a guitarist is start to learn simple chords that can be put together into songs. It is amazing how many songs you will be able to play once you learn three easy chords.…
By: CathyLou in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   May 18, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Bass Guitar Metronome Practice
Ever wonder what makes great bands so easy to listen to? Or why some bands sound so good on the album but not as good live? What is it that makes people easily clap their hands and tap their feet to a song? Every bass player and drummer should know…
By: Robert Paul in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Aug 11, 2013  
0
  Likes: 0

Budget Electric Guitars for Beginners
When considering a budget electric guitar for a beginner, you may be tempted to think that a budget instrument would be of poor quality and something that will be of no use later on. I would sincerely like to reassure you that in most instances this is not the case.…
By: Andrew Webber in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Sep 26, 2011  
0
  Likes: 1

How Long Does It Take To Start Playing Guitar?
Everyone learns at a different rate, so there is not just one answer to this question. To start playing guitar online you do need to make sure that you have enough time to practice, and the most important thing you need to have in mind is that to learn guitar…
By: George Balibrera in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Jul 29, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

How To Play Drums For Beginners
Learning how to play drums for beginners can be a daunting task. Reading music, rudiments, timing, counting, tuning your kit, lessons, and learning fills will all take time and practice. Understanding a few basics about how to go about progressing as a drummer will speed up the process quite a…
By: Carl1 in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Mar 20, 2011  
0
  Likes: 1

How to Produce Music at Home
In this article I'll give you an introduction on the basics of home recording. What you need, where to do it, and what microphones you should use.
By: Alan Ayazyam in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Feb 05, 2011  
0
  Likes: 4

Beginners Tutorial - Tips for Making Beats (part 1)
This is a beginners tutorial to give you a bit of a start. It can be used as a stepping stone to making any genre of music - the principles are the same. Pick the style of music you want to produce and listen to the top performers tracks over…
By: Steampunk Sound in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Jul 29, 2011  
0
  Likes: 2

Akg C 1000 S Condenser Microphone
This article will review the AKG C 1000 S Condenser Microphone. The AKG C 1000 S Condenser Microphone is one of the best selling condenser microphones around. It is packed with value and features and is a great price. The C 1000 is a great sounding microphone for vocal applications.…
By: Steampunk Sound in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Jun 07, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Harmonica Lessons – Made Easy for the Beginner
So you’ve decided that you would like to learn how to play the harmonica, but you’re not sure whether you want to just buy a harmonica and try and learn on your own, or take a chance and purchase one of the many Harmonica Lessons that are available both on…
By: J Kurby in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Mar 22, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Singing, Breath Control And Performing
One of the most overlooked aspects of singing is breath control. This is not to be confused with a vocal warmup regimen done beforehand. It means not straining or running out of breath while performing a particularly long verse or phrase. To do this you need to realize the importance…
By: Brent Newby in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Apr 09, 2012  
0
  Likes: 0

3 Things to Do When Voice Lessons Don’t Work
You know all the techniques and lessons, you know how to apply them, but you occasionally slip to your previous problems, or you still lack that certain X-factor and appeal. Given there is nothing wrong with your chords, and before you even think that you are not cut out for…
By: Frances Colleen  in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Jun 08, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Good Looking Drums
Having a drum set that looks a million can really help you as a drummer. Besides having the satisfaction of a nice clean shiny kit, it is actually good for your equipment to receive some maintenance once in a while. I am going to discuss the importance of having a…
By: Ryan Kuchel in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Apr 18, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Choosing the Right Cymbal
Choosing which cymbal to buy can be a very long and confusing task. There is a wide range of cymbal companies on the market, most of whom having a vast selection of all types of cymbals. The three most popular cymbal companies, Zildjian, Paiste and Sabian are the main preferences…
By: Ryan Kuchel in  Arts and Entertainment  >  Music Instruction   Apr 17, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Article Views: 7088    Report this Article