So why do I need an entire course to tell me where to put a capo?
We recently launched our ‘Capo and Transposing’ course and while it’s been of great help to lots of people we’ve had a few folks say things like “I don’t need a whole course to show me where to put a capo, e.g. if it’s in B I just put it on fret 4, job done” or even “Why do I need a capo, the chart just says capo 3 and I put it on that fret and play the chords”.
Aside from whether every chart has capo notes, lots of guitarists know a few handy capo placements to get them out of awkward keys. Frets 3 and 6 using G shapes to play in Bb or Db or maybe frets 1 and 3 to play in Eb or F using D shapes are pretty well known cheats.
But what about if you don’t have a capo ready chart in the right key or what about if the new key of the song doesn’t match the capo’d chord shapes you know? But even if it does, by using the same chord shapes your capo can only make the song go higher. So what if it needs to go lower?
Or, what about if the song needs to go MUCH higher? Maybe you know a song in Bb using G shapes but say someone wants to sing it in F? You could put the capo on fret 10 but the chord shapes are going to sound a bit like a mandolin. Do you then know to use different chord shapes based in guitar friendly keys like C, D or E so the capo goes much lower down the fret board? And do you know how then to work out which fret to place that capo on to play that Bb song in any one of those four guitar friendly keys?
And speaking of those guitar friendly keys, do you know a good solid set of cheat chords so you can play every chord in the keys of C, D, E and G with easy to play changes without having to resort to Barre chords? (Even for Bm and F?!)
Then there’s the chord chart itself. If you’re handed a chart in F# or Db do you know how to transpose back into a guitar friendly key? These days you could use a transposing App or even our very own Worship Backing Band EveryKey chord charts but that doesn’t do much to advance your understanding of chord construction and develop your core theory skills as a musician.
So if you’ve got a few capo positions under your belt, ask yourself two more questions; if a song is in F do you know where to put the capo to play it using chords based around E shapes, D shapes, C shapes and G shapes?
And if you’re handed a chord chart for a complicated hymn in Eb, do you have the skills to transpose back into those guitar friendly keys of G, C, D or E? Or maybe that chart has complicated slash chords that need to be transposed like F/A or Ab/Eb or even chords that go outside the key. Do you have the skills to transpose those accurately too?
If not, then that’s why we created the Capo and Transposing course. For the many, many worship team musicians who face those exact questions every Sunday.
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