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Capo - I'm confused

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by tele-rain, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. HC

    HC Tele-Holic

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    David Grissom uses a capo a lot and in this video he talks about using it to achieve different sounds.

     
  2. HC

    HC Tele-Holic

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    The capo is used to change keys but still being able to play out of the same E-position for example. With the capo on the fifth fret you can play the open-string licks you would use in the key of E when playing a song in A. Jimmie Vaughan also does this a lot. And he is highly infuenced by the old blues guys like Freddy King and Jimmy Reed.
     
  3. jmiles

    jmiles Friend of Leo's

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    Lets see? A crutch? Hardly. Try fingerpicking some Doc Watson song like "Ticklin' The Strings" in E instead of C. You need the capo on the 4th fret. That's how Doc did it. If you're just strumming chords, you probably don't need it. But more complex stuff? Very valuable tool!
     
  4. seekir

    seekir Tele-Holic

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    There are what might be called non-guitar keys that include few or no open string notes in standard "spanish" tuning (C# for example). Favored "guitar" keys in standard tuning are keys like A, D, E, G, and C. All of these include most or all the open string notes. I guess other scales for pentatonic, blues, and other more exotic tonalities that are guitar friendly may exist. Singers whose voices are not in accord with these keys may not be at their best singing in them and capoes can be a useful aid to playing in keys with few open string notes.

    I avoided capoes for some time with the idea that they were limiting and of course reduced the range of the instrument. I'm on dial-up, so haven't seen the D. Grissom youtube video above, but when I began to experiment with a good capo I was surprised at how great "open" position chords could sound in unfamiliar keys, and what I could do with familiar open position chords and licks in positions where frets are closer together. Additionally the timbre or character of the tone of a guitar can be dramatically different when a capo is used. Certain chord voicings and sounds simply can't be attained without a capo. Many great players use them routinely and achieve great things with them. The intro to Hotel California comes to mind, I believe it's played with a capo at the seventh fret, and when the chords are played this way there is a distinct and clearly recognizable sound as in the original recording. Ian Anderson's acoustic guitar is generally capoed at the third fret. As another poster mentioned, combining a capoed guitar with a non-capoed instrument can provide interesting synergy.
     
  5. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Here comes the Sun is played capoed up the neck too...

    it all becomes clear when you play it up there..
     
  6. Jack S

    Jack S Friend of Leo's

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    Without the capo, the first position G chord shape is G (of course), if you place the capo at the second fret the G shape you now play produces an A chord. Likewise a D shape in first position becomes an E when it is used with a capo on the second fret. The way it changes keys is it allows you to use the same chord shapes or fingerings as you would without the capo, but move them up the neck in relation to the capo and thus change the key. You could play the D shape up two frets without a capo and it is still an E, but you would have to avoid playing the open strings.
     
  7. paul74

    paul74 Tele-Meister

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    With Albert Collins it was because he was playing in an open tuning, F minor. The open strings when soloing were critical to his style. Skip James also used an open minor tuning.
     
  8. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Whilst I can play in any key without a capo and generally do so, the capo allows you to play open strings where you wouldn't otherwise be able to do so. Not just open "cowboy" chords, and not just pedalling bass strings.

    The capo also allows you to quickly transpose a learnt song using a favourite chord pattern, particularly one that that uses open strings.
    Sometimes interesting, sometime just a novelty.
     
  9. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

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    I'm still having a bugger of a time wrapping my head around this, as to why a G chord becomes an A? but I feel like I'm close to an "ah-hah" moment, so I will keep at it. But I do completely understand now that the capo changes the open strings, not the fretted, so that helps!
     
  10. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Capo goes on at 2nd fret.
    All notes are shifted up by 2 frets which is 2 semi-tones.
    A is 2 semi-tones above G ... ok

    What was G is now A

    The guitar what was EADGBE is now tuned F# B E A C# F# on open strings.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  11. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire

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    A G chord never becomes an A. The fact of the matter is that playing the G shape chord with a capo on the second fret produces an A chord. The G chord would be the shape of an F chord if the capo were at the second fret. This is the main reason why I recommend learning the fretboard well enough so that you never need "Transposed for capo" music. When I get a song to perform in which the guitar is capoed, I want the chart to be in concert pitch. If I play a cowboy-chord G shape with the capo on the third fret, I call that a Bb chord, not a G. Once you know what note is at which fret on the entire fretboard, you never need to transpose for capo again.
     
  12. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Because your G-B-D (G Chord) becomes an A-C#-E (A Chord).

    I've always felt a little inadequate because my guitar playing roots are basically folk, but I've been taking lessons lately trying to learn how to do things 'right' and have discovered that a lot of this stuff is second nature to me, while the folks that are fingerboard whizzes struggle with the easy stuff... just goes to show ya.

    An awful lot of people look down their noses at the capo, but it's just another one of those tools that makes life easier. There's no reason (other than arrogance) to dislocate half your fingers to play some gawd-awful set of chords when a capo can get you there playing comfortably. After all, music is art, not torture.
     
  13. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    No the G is not A but it is the G-shape and position.
    That is getting complicated, keep it simple.

    When using a capo, the old brain thinks the capo is the nut, you don't have to think too hard.

    But if I get a sheet in concert and I want to use the capo, I'd have to transpose it back down, the capo is now my nut, my point of reference, or play without the capo. I guess it's practice - I don't use the capo often.

    Ex: If I have learnt a tune in G and I need to play it in A, I'll usually transpose it on the fly.
    But if it is complex or I need a lot of open strings for the way I have learnt it, now I can't do a full barre very well whilst adding the fiddly bits, so I'll bung that capo on.
    I've got shortish fingers, I can't get a good full barre, or thumb-over, but can stretch six frets or so, besides the full barre slows the other fingers down.
     
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  14. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    It is a tool, like a Hammer.
    If you use it long enough, you'll figure-out how to use it.

    If you can't see any need for it, don't worry about it.

    I play a duo with a friend, we use them all the time.
    For us, it is all about voicing. Giving each Guitar its own voice.
     
  15. MrTwang

    MrTwang Friend of Leo's

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    To give an idea of how this can work to give different sounds, play a regular open A chord.
    Put the capo on the 5th fret and play the basic E chord shape.
    Now put the capo on the 7th fret and play a basic D shape.

    Because of the capo the 3 chords are actually all A but each has its own distinctive sound.

    If you can't hear the difference, or cannot imagine why one might sound better than another in different musical contexts you probably aren't quite ready to use one effectively for that purpose.

    Another use is if you know a song in the key of A and you are playing with a band and they say "we do this one in C" just put the capo on the 3rd fret and play the chord shapes you are used to.

    If you look at a song like Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day", sure, you can play it without a capo but if you stick one on the fifth fret it is (a) a lot easier and (b) sounds a lot closer to the original and the intro becomes a LOT easier to play.
     
  16. tele-rain

    tele-rain Friend of Leo's

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    OK here's what is confusing me...

    The G note is the 6th string, 3rd fret. The A note is the 6th string, 5th fret. When you put the capo on the 2nd fret, as mentioned, the capo sort of becomes the nut. So isn't the once 5th fret now the 3rd fret, making it still a G note, just higher pitch?

    EDIT - Just realized my mistake here.. This is referring to the fretted notes, and I already understand that the capo doesn't change those. I feel like a tool for begin this confused about this, I mean it's not rocket science, and kids learn this stuff as easy as ABCs. Just because I'm older, I've been at this stuff for a long time now!! It's my own fault for moving forward and just faking my way through learning to play stuff, I should have focused on the theory stuff from the get go. But the first time I played something that remotely sounded like a song, I wanted to do more. So I just pretended to learn by strumming chords of songs that were simple to me. But I want to step back and learn for real now! So this is a hurdle that I want to pass, so I'm keeping on this thread till it clicks!
     
  17. Paleus

    Paleus Tele-Meister

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    It is nowhere near that complicated. The capo doesn't change anything. The 5th fret is still the 5th fret. The only difference is when you play the open string, it's an F# not an E because the string is being fretted on the second fret by the capo. It doesn't retune the guitar or change the pitch of the strings. The same thing would happen if I came along, barred all the strings at the second fret and you played chords pretending my finger was the nut.

    How can you have the "same note" at a higher pitch? Pitch (frequency of sound waves) is what makes different notes. If your guitar is tuned to standard tuning, the 5th fret on the E string will be A, always, no matter what you have clamped on the neck.

    Stop thinking "6th string, 3rd fret", think about the notes you are playing. Learn the notes on the fret board and this will all become clear.
     
  18. motwang

    motwang Tele-Afflicted

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    It becomes an A note, but you play as if it were a G note. You're right it ain't rocket science, and you will figure it out. Keep messin' with it and you'll get it. Do you read music at all? Might want to learn some music theory, might help you understand a little better also. Hey you gotta start somewhere, so keep at it, and the light bulb will come on, and you'll slap your forehead with the palm of your hand and............... well you get the idea!!
     
  19. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Sixth string 3rd fret is G ... ok

    Capo goes on at 2nd fret. The capo is the new nut, fret zero.
    Sixth string "3rd fret" is now A.

    They keep trying to tell you that the fifth fret is still the fifth fret but it is not, it is now your third fret and you can use fingering and chord shapes as that, but that new third fret is now 2 semitones, 2 frets, higher than it was before the capo.

    You have moved the nut up by 2 semitones.
    All the notes have moved up by 2 semitones wrt the capo/nut position.
    That's because the notes on the fretboard (wrt the bone nut) have not moved, they're still where we put them when we tuned it.

    The chord shapes are the same as when you played it as G but the (root note) tone is now A. Everything moves up 2 semitones: the neck has been shortened.

    When we were learning maths and anyone "didn't get it", our teacher would rattle off several different ways of doing the same thing, on an individual basis, until one of the methods took. It worked.

    When you fit the capo, one normally needs to retune the guitar because it can pinch notes sharp unless its tension is just-so.
     
  20. StarliteDeVille

    StarliteDeVille Tele-Meister

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    Do you know your six string barre chords? If so, your index finger is functioning as the capo, and you are making an open E chord SHAPE below your index finger barre over the six strings. Now, make a G chord shape below your barre. The note that determines what the chord actually is when using a G chord shape is the note on the 6th (heaviest) string. If you know what note in each of your open chord shapes determines what the actual chord is, then you can figure it out anywhere on the fretboard, as long as you know the notes on the fretboard.
     
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