This is how it works. If I put my capo on the first fret, every chord I play has now moved up a half step. An A chord is now a Bb (or A#). An E minor is now F minor. If I put it on the fourth fret, everything is now up two whole steps (four half steps). A C is now an E. An A minor is a C# minor. The following chart will give you some of the basic chord transpositions:
Another handy aspect to the capo involves singing. Many have been the times that I have learned a song only to find that I cannot sing it in the original key. A couple of capo placements later, I will have found a key I can sing in and I won’t have to relearn the chords of the song.
But I personally think the best use of the capo comes when jamming with other guitarists. Think about it, if there are four or more of you playing together, it gets pretty dense with everyone down on one end of the guitar. One way to liven things up a bit is to play with a capo. Not only do you now provide the song with different chord voicings, you also end up having to rethink your leads, bringing more new life to the piece. It’s best to start out with songs that are fairly uncomplicated and in easy keys (and of course it always helps if you’ve played them together before). Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door (it’s in G – play in D with capo on fifth fret or in C with capo on seventh fret) . One of my favorites is playing the Eagles’ Hotel California (usually in B minor) with my capo on the seventh fret (I’m playing in E minor).
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