Using a capo for variation but staying in key?

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HansiRHansiR Frets: 12
Hi Guys... I would like to use a capo to add a bit of variation when accompanying another guitarist. I often use a capo to simply find a pitch to suit my voice if I want to stick to a certain set of chords that I like the sound of but are too low or too high for me to sing to. However, I would love to know how to work out where to put the capo if I want to play in the same key as another guitarist but want to add some higher strings for variation. For example, if we are in the key of C and the other guitarist is holding the usual C chord shape, etc. and I want to play higher up with a capo, how do I work out where to put the capo and what chord I would have to hold to be also playing in C... I see other players say things like "Oh, I'm in F so it'll be A minor for you..." but how do you work this out? Any advise would be much appreciated... cheers, Hansi
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  • mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 320
    What about just picking a fret that has no sharps of flats, so all the “open” strings will be in C. Then just play in C, but with new open strings. 
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 9189
    HansiR said:
    Hi Guys... I would like to use a capo to add a bit of variation when accompanying another guitarist. I often use a capo to simply find a pitch to suit my voice if I want to stick to a certain set of chords that I like the sound of but are too low or too high for me to sing to. However, I would love to know how to work out where to put the capo if I want to play in the same key as another guitarist but want to add some higher strings for variation. For example, if we are in the key of C and the other guitarist is holding the usual C chord shape, etc. and I want to play higher up with a capo, how do I work out where to put the capo and what chord I would have to hold to be also playing in C... I see other players say things like "Oh, I'm in F so it'll be A minor for you..." but how do you work this out? Any advise would be much appreciated... cheers, Hansi
    You have to offset your own playing downwards by the same amount that the capo has raised the effective pitch. 

    E.g. assume the other guy is in standard and you have a capo on the 5th fret (ie a 4th up, in musical terms). He plays a C, Am and G, so you need to go down 5 frets-worth in terms of chord shapes, so you'd play G shape, Em shape and D shape. 

    If you look at the root of the chords you're playing it's still C's, A's and G's.
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  • martmart Frets: 2710
    HansiR said:
    ..., how do I work out where to put the capo and what chord I would have to hold to be also playing in C... 
    You can, in theory, put the capo anywhere, and follow the rule @stickyfiddle just said for working out what chords to play. 

    In practice, you’ll want to be playing nice easy open chords at your capo’d position, and that will limit your options for where to put the capo. Taking the C example again, you could put the capo at the 5th and play in G, or the 3rd and play in A, or the 7th and play in F, etc. There are always lots of choices, but some will be easier than others.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1806
    Think CAGED. If the other guitarist is using a C shape in the open position then you can use:
    A shape barred at 3rd fret
    G shape barred at 5th
    E at 8
    D at 10

    How do you know which is right? Learn the names of the notes on the fret board. So the A shape has its root note on the 5th string. Put the capo on the 3rd fret, where the note on the 5th string is C. Similarly the E shape has its root note on the 6th string, so put the capo at the 8th fret where you find C.
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  • mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 320
    If you’re playing with another guitarist, it may be better to use “shell voicings,” aka three-note inversions played on three adjacent strings. These can be moved anywhere on the with a bar/barre.

    One advantage of these is that they use fewer notes, so you can exist better alongside other instruments. 
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    This is the CAGED system effectively, as they're the C-A-G-E-D open shapes played up and down the fretboard. You need ot know the root notes of the chords to understand it and the shapes in relation. So as mentioned above, to play C in different positions you can place the capo on the 3rd/5th/7th frets.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1806
    If you’re playing with another guitarist, it may be better to use “shell voicings,” aka three-note inversions played on three adjacent strings. These can be moved anywhere on the with a bar/barre.

    One advantage of these is that they use fewer notes, so you can exist better alongside other instruments. 
    The other advantage is that you can play them without a capo
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  • mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 320
    Roland said:
    If you’re playing with another guitarist, it may be better to use “shell voicings,” aka three-note inversions played on three adjacent strings. These can be moved anywhere on the with a bar/barre.

    One advantage of these is that they use fewer notes, so you can exist better alongside other instruments. 
    The other advantage is that you can play them without a capo
    That’s what I tried and failed to say ;)
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  • vizviz Frets: 4766
    Or get a digitech whammy :)
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  • WazmeisterWazmeister Frets: 3719
    Niel Finn in Crowded House used this technique all of the while, to add texture and colour 
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  • Rowby1Rowby1 Frets: 345
    I do this all the time in my acoustic band. There’s two of us playing acoustic guitar and we virtually never play the same chord inversions at the same time. Also we have brass players who like very guitar unfriendly keys like Bb and Eb so capos are very handy :)
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3559

    If he plays a standard C you can play an A with the capo on the third fret

    For F play a D with the capo on the third fret etc 

    So on third fret think a third below so 

    Ignoring major \ minor

    He C you A
    He D you B
    He E you C#
    He F you D
    He G you E
    He A you F#
    He B you G#

    If you capo'ed on the 5th fret then think a 4th below so

    He D you A
    He E you B 
    He F you C

    And so on 


    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • HansiRHansiR Frets: 12
    Wow...! Thank you so much everybody for all that information, I really appreciate the time that you've taken to explain this to me. Not being too clear on musical theory this is exactly what I needed to get up and running. I've been recording some backing tracks and then playing along with the suggested capoed chords, and it sounds great and actually in tune! So, once again, thank you all for your help... cheers from Australia, Hansi
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  • hotpickupshotpickups Frets: 879
    Danny1969 said:

    If he plays a standard C you can play an A with the capo on the third fret

    For F play a D with the capo on the third fret etc 

    So on third fret think a third below so 

    Ignoring major \ minor

    He C you A
    He D you B
    He E you C#
    He F you D
    He G you E
    He A you F#
    He B you G#

    If you capo'ed on the 5th fret then think a 4th below so

    He D you A
    He E you B 
    He F you C

    And so on 


    Not sure I get that @Danny1969  :( For example if he plays an open D and you capo the third fret what chord fingering makes it a B? 
    Link to my trading feedback:  http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/59452/
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1806
    Other way around. You play the B shape (vs the capo) and the capo position means that you’re actually playing D.
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3559
    Danny1969 said:

    If he plays a standard C you can play an A with the capo on the third fret

    For F play a D with the capo on the third fret etc 

    So on third fret think a third below so 

    Ignoring major \ minor

    He C you A
    He D you B
    He E you C#
    He F you D
    He G you E
    He A you F#
    He B you G#

    If you capo'ed on the 5th fret then think a 4th below so

    He D you A
    He E you B 
    He F you C

    And so on 


    Not sure I get that @Danny1969  :( For example if he plays an open D and you capo the third fret what chord fingering makes it a B? 
    Standard B shape which is 

    2
    4
    4
    4
    2
    x

    Play that shape with a capo on the third fret and this is what happens

    2 which is an F# is now shifted to an A by the capo
    4 which is a D# is now shifted to an F# by the capo
    4 was a B now is a D
    4 was an F# now is an A
    2 Was a B now is a D
    x

    So we now have the notes A, F#, D which is a classic D major chord despite the fact your playing a B shape ... 

    He plays a D with no capo, you play a B with a capo on the third fret and you are both playing D 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • mudslide73mudslide73 Frets: 1645
    I used to have a little book called the Capo Guru which did the basics really well but it'd be good to explore more - can anyone recommend a good web resource?
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  • hotpickupshotpickups Frets: 879
    Danny1969 said:
    Danny1969 said:

    If he plays a standard C you can play an A with the capo on the third fret

    For F play a D with the capo on the third fret etc 

    So on third fret think a third below so 

    Ignoring major \ minor

    He C you A
    He D you B
    He E you C#
    He F you D
    He G you E
    He A you F#
    He B you G#

    If you capo'ed on the 5th fret then think a 4th below so

    He D you A
    He E you B 
    He F you C

    And so on 


    Not sure I get that @Danny1969  :( For example if he plays an open D and you capo the third fret what chord fingering makes it a B? 
    Standard B shape which is 

    2
    4
    4
    4
    2
    x

    Play that shape with a capo on the third fret and this is what happens

    2 which is an F# is now shifted to an A by the capo
    4 which is a D# is now shifted to an F# by the capo
    4 was a B now is a D
    4 was an F# now is an A
    2 Was a B now is a D
    x

    So we now have the notes A, F#, D which is a classic D major chord despite the fact your playing a B shape ... 

    He plays a D with no capo, you play a B with a capo on the third fret and you are both playing D 
    Can't see the point of the capo if your doing a barred B major fingered chord though. Which is a d major with a capo on or off? Or am I missing something?
    Link to my trading feedback:  http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/59452/
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8779
    The capo saves you from having to play barred chords. The absolute pitch of the chord is determined by which frets your fingers are on, not by which shape you are playing. EG the C shape plays a C maj chord with no capo, OK? Put a capo on fret 2 and use the same C shape, you get D.

    If you're going to play barre chords you may not need a capo, but it could be harder work.

    I like hearing 2 guitars (especially acoustics) playing in the same key but using different chord shapes. EG: player 1 using no capo plays in C, and has plenty of scale notes available on open strings. The highest note comfortably reached in the 1st position is probably G on fret 3 of the 1st string. Player 2 uses a capo on fret 5, and uses chord shapes as if he were playing in G, but because he's playing further up the neck, whenever he uses a G shape he's actually playing C. His picking through the chords is going to sound very different even though he's actually playing in the same key. The highest note he will reach comfortably is top C on fret 8 of the 1st string.
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  • ModellistaModellista Frets: 725
    edited June 30
    Can't see the point of the capo if your doing a barred B major fingered chord though. Which is a d major with a capo on or off? Or am I missing something?
    Well yes, the B is one example where it's pretty pointless to capo because it's a barre chord.  Although it features in the E-A-B 3-chord trick so if you're capoing at the 3rd and playing in root E shapes (the other guitarist playing G shapes) then the barred B is unavoidable even though the capo isn't doing anything because there are no open strings.

    Edit - although it could be argued the chord should be B7 in which case there *are* open strings and the capo is needed
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