Topic: Capo question from Greggamma

I believe we have a shy user who, instead of posting his question here in the forum, sent it to me via email. As I believe he will get a more educated response from the vast array of experienced guitar players than I could ever offer, I have posted his question below:

I just discovered this.  I had been using a capo but the pitch was really weird, especially on the smaller strings.  Like, Take it Easy by the Eagles. Some high tones for my voice.  How far do you take it down to keep the songs integrity or doesn't it matter?

Welcome to the forum Greg - Don't be shy, all the folks here are real helpful and friendly.

Rule No. 1 - If it sounds good - it is good!

Re: Capo question from Greggamma

I use a capo alot and what I use it for is to get the key of a song to get in my vocal range.I usually find that the key of G is to high and I usually capo at the 2nd  for key of A or 3rd for Bb or 4th fret for B.When a song is in the Key of D  as a rule I find capo 1st or second work the best. If a song is in C it's kinda the same thing.
   So just for a reference I usually do songs In  A ,Bb and D# & E   I can't do many in G or C or D.Everyone has a different range and you will have to find your sweet spot.
   If you are playing with others at a jam,and it's your turn. Put your capo on and play it to match your voice,if some of the others don't have a capo they will have to transpose it or sit it out.The lead players will know what you are doing.It is too hard to play in a key that doesn't work for your voice and it never works.
     Normally I don't capo above the 5th fret,but that's just me.I have a friend that transposes what I'm doing and plays way up the neck with a capo.
     The minor keys are kinda the same way for me although Am I can usually do about anywhere with or without the capo.
Em not so , usually 2nd or 3rd fret  about the same as it's major relative G.

Hope this makes some sense.

Later, Wayne P

Re: Capo question from Greggamma

Hi Greg,

A few things here. First off ,as you move the capo from fret 1 to fret 3, for example, you are going UP the neck. Think of it in terms of pitch. As the notes get higher we ascend, or move up the fretboard.

In terms of intergrity within a song, there are no rules or standards in which integrity applies, unless one is lip syncing or using pre-recorded music( haha) The pre-recorded music is just a major pet peeve of mine. Some people are OK with it, I for one find it totally despicable.

Seriously though Greg, find a key and chordal progression that you're comfortable with and go with it. I've found that higher UP on the fretboard I place my capo, the more issues I have with proper tuning. Like Wayne(previous post), who gave some great advice in his post, I rarely capo above the 5th fret.

Another advantage of using a capo is that this extends the life of your frets. Before I started using a capo regularly in my daily gigs/practicing I would get 4-6 months out of my main guitar before the frets became in dire need of replacing. With regular use of a capo I'll get 12-15 months of playing before  it's time to replace my worn down frets.

Anyways, feel free to post here anytime with questions, comments, or anything you find amusing. We're a good bunch of people here( mostly) and are eager to answer any question or give some friendly advice to the best of our abilities.

Peace and Guitars,

Give everything but up.

Re: Capo question from Greggamma

Hi Greg! No need to be shy...lots of great info and experience on this forum and some super friendly folks...

I use a capo to get stuff in a guitar friendly mode...example: a lot of the church hymn are played in flats by our piano player...Eb-Ab-Bb is a booger for me to play on the guitar so I'll put a capo on the 1st fret and play a D-G-A chord pattern which is much easier for me but still in the same key. Also if you capo really high up the neck then rythym can get a sorta mandolin sound if you want to add a rich sound to the mix...

Middleaged Redneck sorta guy who refuses to grow up...passion for music, especially Southern Rock but like bout everything cept Gangsta/Hip Hop. Collect guitars, mandolins, and love to ride Harleys.

Re: Capo question from Greggamma

A capo is the friendliest thing a guitar player can have next to a puppy dog. Say you only know 4 chords - G..Em..C..D. These are all open chords, Key of "G" and are very common. You have a favorite song in this key and really like to play it with those chords. Ok, now you want to learn another song but it is in the Key of "A" but you don't know the chords for this progression - A..F#m..D..E. The capo makes it simple. Place the capo on the 2nd fret and play your open G..Em..C..D chords. The sound, voicing, you get is in the key of "A". Wanna play in the key of Bb - move the capo to the 3rd fret and play your "G" progression chords. Wanna play in the key of "C"- capo the 5th fret and play your open "G" chord progression chords.

A capo is called a cheater by a lotta players and some even refuse to use them. They are a great tool and worth learning to use as they simplify a lotta chord progressions where you MUST be able to play barre chords. When you are playing with a group and someone calls a a song in Bb or Db or Eb the chords will be within your ability to play and you will have a much better time.


Re: Capo question from Greggamma

Well said Nela.  In short if you put on a capo but use same chords you're changing the key.  If you use CHORDIE's translator on the right side of the page it will tell you what chords you use to RETAIN the same key but play in different "voice".  THis is useful when two guitarists play the same song so they compliment each other. 

Welcome here and don't be shy.  All of us learn something when a good thread gets going.


Re: Capo question from Greggamma

Very useful information guys, I appreciate it very much!

Come on and join the group Greg, lots of great people here, with tons of knowledge.


Keep a fire burning in your eyes
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down

Re: Capo question from Greggamma

Welcome Greg!
  If the pitch is weird "especially on the smaller strings". Maybe the capo is tighter on the smaller strings than the large ones. If the capo radius isn't close to the fret board radius, it can cause some difficulty in achieving equal tension on all the strings. It's Just one more possibility. smile
  And I agree with you nela-- one of my buds named his puppy dog "capo" , great name for a dog!!


Re: Capo question from Greggamma

wlbaye wrote:

Em not so , usually 2nd or 3rd fret  about the same as it's major relative G.

Hope this makes some sense.


I'm loving relative major and minor scales. I never understood how it worked til recently.


"Talent instantly recognizes genius,
but mediocrity knows nothing more than itself."

-Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle