Capo confusion- but I'm not alone!

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by richiek65, Jul 4, 2019.

  1. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's

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    At 18min mark, Buddy Miller discusses how capos throw him off. I've always experienced the same, i.e. if I'm playing down around the capo, it becomes my point of reference, I treat the capo as if it were the nut. When I move further up the fretboard, the dots/fretboard markers are screaming their actual (as if no capo in place) notes and positions..

    Anybody else suffer from this?

    https://www.premierguitar.com/artic...-66323481&mc_cid=3e9dc4b4a8&mc_eid=b446ffab60
     
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  2. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    interesting... I never look at the fretboard when I'm playing, so that isn't a problem for me. It isn't like I am so good I can play with my eyes closed - it's just that my close-up vision is messed up so I see double and it's all too confusing. So I don't look!

    I like that guitar in your profile pic. I think the guy in the Wallflowers - Michael Ward - played one like that.
     
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  3. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    I play Chris Stapleton’s What Are You Listening to with a capo in the 5th fret. I’m playing in C. It feels like G until the solo outro I play at the end. That single note solo outro is constructed using a C major scale with the solo starting on the major 7th. There’s no way not to think the solo in the key the song is played in. I play Landslide with a capo at the third fret. Intro, chords, or solo, I’m playing in F. I think the key (no pun intended) is to know what you’re doing all the time. That said, I had to train my brain. It didn’t come naturally or easily.
     
  4. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's

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    I saw Michael Ward play his with John Hiatt, loved the familiar but different looks.. Mine's an Epiphone from 1998, low impedance mini humbuckers. Pretty cool guitar
     
  5. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's

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    Yup - I always just assumed this was a universal issue when you capo.
     
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  6. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    At times. My acoustics are usually tuned to Eb so it can happen if I'm jamming with others on some unknown tune.
     
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  7. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's

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    My band occasionally play a Crowded House number that is in D, but played with capo on 2nd fret and regular C shape, Am, F etc chords are employed, so i "see" the song in key of C . When I play the solo, however, I have to go up to the major pentatonic area around the 7th to 10th fret, so I'm now back to playing what I see as key of D. As the solo climbs higher and then later starts to shift through some interesting chord changes, I'm battling with the fret markers telling me I'm in a particular key, but the capo giving me a different key.. if I try to move back down toward the capo, at some stage my brain struggles to transition between the D patterns and shapes in playing up high and the C patterns and shapes that I'm playing around the nut (back in 1st position)

    Thats best I can explain my confusion! I'm not a clever enough player to be constantly transposing in my head on the fly.. i know the answer to this is practice, practice practice... I'm just slightly chuffed that I'm in the company of the great Buddy Miller on this one!
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  8. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's

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    And capoing on say 3rd fret exaggerates this effect, as I'm now "in between" familiar fret marker landmarks
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  9. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    A capo is not just for the guitarist. It's as much or maybe even more for the vocalist and keyboard player. Think of a song played using cowboy chords in A where the vocalist can't get breath support under the low notes. Not uncommon. The guitarist wants to place the capo behind the second fret so the position markers look familiar. The keyboard player freaks. No way he's playing in B major. Move the capo behind the third fret and you're in C. The vocalist has the breath she needs and the keyboard player is playing on the white keys. When it's time for the guitar solo, the guitarist needs to think in C up the neck. Learn to ignore the capo. Think of it as a sixth finger if you have to but you're not playing the chords in A and the solo in C, you're playing everything in C. Suddenly the position markers make sense again. Now maybe you think just play in C without the capo but sometimes you want to voice chords for certain open string resonances or want to place chords within easy reach of each other, or you like the tone further up the neck better. The point is that you have to train yourself to ignore the capo and think of the notes and the chords as the actual notes and chords you are playing. It's not easy but if you train your brain you'll get it. If it was easy, every fool around the campfire would be playing a guitar.
     
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  10. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's

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    You have hit the nail on the head many times in your reply! Definitely I should be thinking of the song in the "new" key and looking at each actual note on the board as a standalone note, not part of the shape of a chord that's been given to me by putting a capo on whatever fret. Your analogy of the capo as my 6th finger is great!
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  11. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Playing with a capo kinda helps me from relying on the dots so much. It kinda keeps me humble.
     
  12. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Tele-Afflicted

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    Talk about capo confusion...

    [​IMG]
     
  13. johnDH

    johnDH TDPRI Member

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    I often like the sound of my guitars etter if capoed at 3, and also it helps me sing some songs. So I just capo there (or not at all) are get used to where I have to be if fretting higher
     
  14. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's

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    Exact same experience / confusion here. Capo is great when you’re playing cowboy chords, but if you have to move too far...
    When we play Jumpin Jack Flash I play it as if in E with a capo on VII. So when I play the little riff over the chorus I go play an actual D (14th fret), then a D relative to the capo (looks like 2nd fret, actually 9th fret), then actual E (D-shape at 16th), then E relative to the capo (4th -> 11th).
    If I was to think of those high chords as G and A played with D shapes at 7th and 9th frets (relative to the capo) I would just flounder because that’s too far away from the capo to refer relative to the capo, and the dots ain’t no help at all! So I had to think “real D, fake D: real E, fake E” till I’d learned it.
     
  15. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    Doesn't bother me much. I really only have to keep track of what the notes under the capo will be when played open. Otherwise, the fretboard is the fretboard. From capo +1 on up the neck nothing has changed.
     
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  16. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I made the conscious decision years ago to call chords by their concert pitch names when using a capo. I am a church musician, playing bass almost exclusively now but when I did play guitar I had to request no capo sheet music. The music leaders in churches tend to get capo sheet music which names chords as if the capo were the nut.

    When you play an open G shape with a capo on the 4th fret it is not a G chord. It is a B chord. I want my music to use the chord symbols of the actual chords of the song, not the chords as it they were fretted with no capo. I will decide if and where I want to put the capo.

    Side note - a lot of the time I have music in the wrong key so a good working knowledge of music theory comes in handy in transposing on the fly.
     
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  17. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    +1 with Jbmando..... one is playing a key. Imho, if one is capping say at the second fret and using that C form, one is in D. Think that way and one is never lost. I have to keep it simple, but maybe using movable C and G forms in addition to movable E and A forms helps???? Think of it this way....if one is playing a barre E form at say the second fret, one is not thinking that they are playing in E, right? No, one is in F# or Gb. So, why would one think that using a capo on the second fret and using a C form chord is playing in C???. That is a D chord.
     
  18. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    I just add which number of frets the capo is at. Scales and chord shapes never change. Only the keys your playing in. F#, capoed 2nd fret? Just play licks in 14th fret. Two frets up from the two dots. :D

    I should probably mention that I only play pentatonic minor licks, repeated. Poorly.

    I'm all about keeping things simple. Yeah, that's it. That's the ticket. :oops:
     
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  19. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    I agree - get in the habit of calling the chord shape what it is relative to its position on the fretboard, not just the 1st position form. I remember this being a huge revelation for me as beginner guitarist way back when. It's just something I take for granted now. Yet, I'm continually surprised how many guitarists never seem to get that system clear in their heads, and yet can still play fairly well. However, they severely limit their ability to transpose and play by ear.

    I think new guitarists should get a full understanding of the use of barre/moveable chords and shapes before they ever use a capo.

    EDIT: my buddy and bandmate can play solos circles around me. But I still sometimes have to show him which positions and frets to play scales and chords in, depending on the key of the song. He's played almost as long as I have.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
  20. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Though I never use a capo in any of my “hired gun” gigs, I use one in one of my duos.
    The (great) singer does a lot of stuff in non-original keys.
    As she doesn’t play an instrument, it’s just our voices and my acoustic guitar.
    I use a capo about 60% of the time on our gigs.
    It only throws me off when I have to solo.
    I have known how to transpose chords since I was a kid
    (Thanks Drew), but soloing with a capo is a PITA.
    I often just excise the solos when we play.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
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