Here are the notes you'll tune your strings to for all capo positions. I've given all accidentals sharp names:
Capo 0: 6E 5A 4D 3G 2B 1E Capo 1: 6F 5A# 4D# 3G# 2C 1F Capo 2: 6F# 5B 4E 3A 2C# 1F# Capo 3: 6G 5C 4F 3A# 2D 1G Capo 4: 6G# 5C# 4F# 3B 2D# 1G# Capo 5: 6A 5D 4G 3C 2E 1A Capo 6: 6A# 5D# 4G# 3C# 2F 1A# Capo 7: 6B 5E 4A 3D 2F# 1B Capo 8: 6C 5F 4A# 3D# 2G 1C Capo 9: 6C# 5F# 4B 3E 2G# 1C# Capo 10: 6D 5G 4C 3F 2A 1D
This is a capo--it’s a clamp that goes on your guitar like this, and it is useful for several reasons, but the most simple and common use is to enable you to raise the key of your song without changing the way you play it. Here’s what “May The Circle Be Unbroken” sounds like with no capo: [perform first line]. And if we slap the capo on...I’m just going to randomly pick a fret here...let’s do the third fret. Now I can play the same chord shapes pretending that the capo is now my nut, and it sounds like this. [perform] See how I’m singing it higher now, and all the chords sound higher? This is one of the things that makes the guitar easier to learn than the piano. If you want to change keys on a piano, you have to learn new chord shapes. On the guitar, you just stick this here clamp thingy on it and you are good to go.
Here are some tips for first-rate capo placement.
Don’t tweak the strings
If you’re sloppy, the strings are going to get shoved caddywampus like this, which is going to thrown them wildly out of tune. No matter what kind of capo you have, start by laying the rubber bar flat across the strings, then clamp it down so that the force of the bar is applied straight down on top of the strings. Once you’ve got it clamped, don’t adjust it under pressure--open it up first.
2. Clamp close to the highwire unless your hand gets crowded
Usually, the best place to capo is the same as the best place to fret with fingers--right behind the fretwire. It doesn’t throw your guitar out of tune as much, and it requires less force to keep the strings from buzzing. But some chords may feel crowded with the capo so close to your hand--your knuckle might bump into it. If so, you can scoot it back some, but don’t go past the midway point of the fret or you risk buzzing.
3. Capo 7 and Higher is Extreme
Speaking of crowded, you’ve probably noticed that as you capo up the neck, the frets get closer together. Also, as you approach the 12th fret, you may start bumping into the heel of your guitar, where the neck thickens. Once you get to around capo 7 or so, your really start to feel like you’ve landed in muchkin land and are playing one of their guitars. Some chords may be flat out impossible this high up. The guitar’s also going to sound radically different, which isn’t inherently bad--it could be a very cool effect--but it almost sounds like a different instrument. Two factors that you need to consider if you want to capo high up the neck.
No matter how carefully you place your capo, it’s going to throw your guitar out of tune a little, mostly on the sixth string. If you want to sound your best, I recommend you retune whenever you put on or take off your capo. This means tuning your strings to different notes than you normally would, so you’re going to need a chromatic tuner to do this, which means it’ll tune your guitar to any note under the sun. If you’re using a smartphone app, it almost certainly does this, but you might need to switch it to chromatic or “All Notes” mode instead of “standard” or EADGBE mode.
If your guitar was in tune before you put the capo on, and you put it on carefully, you can assume that the notes your tuner identifies are the right ones, just maybe a little sharp. But in case you knock a string radically out of tune, I have a list below showing you which notes your strings should be tuned to for each of the capo positions.
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