16 August, 2009

HOW TO use a capo

In this post, I will be attempting to answer the question on how to use a capo. First of all, what is a capo? I'll show you some images below on the different kinds of capo that are available out there:

Honestly, capos can come in many shapes and sizes. I personally have the first two capos shown above. Ok, so the next question is, what is the function of a capo?

Well, a simple way to think of a capo is that it is a tool that helps you to play a song in whatever key with easier chords. What do I mean by this? Let's take an example. If a song requires 3 simple chords, G, C and D, it would be easy to play it. However, what would happen if the song uses the same progression, but in a different key? This means instead of G, C and D, it becomes A#, D# and F. This would pose a problem because all 3 chords now require you to play some sort of barre chord.

To solve this, the capo can be used. We could place the capo on the 3rd fret and play a G, C and D pattern. This would give you a A#, D# and F. Confused? Maybe a pictorial example might help explain a bit more:

From the diagram, we see that the capo (the gray rectangular piece) is placed across the 3rd fret. So, what happens now is that when you play a G pattern with the capo at the 3rd fret, you are in fact playing an A# (or a Bb, both are the same).

So then, lets test if you know what I am talking about. If I were to place the capo on the 1st fret and play a G pattern, what chord would I be playing? Ans: G# Now, if I were to place the capo on the 5th fret and play a G pattern, what chord would I be playing? Ans: C

I hope you're getting a hang of this. Ok, lets try one more example to see if you really understand what I'm trying to explain. If I have the capo on the 2nd fret and I play a C pattern, what chord would I be playing? Ans: D

If you need anymore clarification, feel free to ask. I know this post has not been too in-depth because honestly, there are many frets you could place the capo on to play whichever songs you are playing. I only gave a few examples and hopefully you have had some of your questions on using the capo answered.


DanChen said...

This is good stuff.
Keep it up!

smpk42 said...

so, what are the answers?

daniel said...

Hi smpk42, the answers are on the post itself. You have to highlight it to see them

Cor d'Harmonie said...

I'm really trying to understand, but I still don't get it, and this a huge problem I have with playing with a capo. I never know what key I'm playing in and I really want to learn.

daniel said...

hi Cor d'Harmonie,

any parts which you specifically do not understand?

Using the capo actually requires you to know your fretboard well, so I would suggest to read up on that post too.

Hope it helps!