Click here to download the Capo Key Chart PDF.
Have you ever found yourself playing a song where all the chords were hard to play and then in another song, all the chords where easy? Well, you aren't alone. Anyone who has played a bit has run into this and I too have found myself in the situation. In fact, going up, even though I had several guitar teachers and practiced A LOT, for my first few years of playing I never knew what I'm about to show you. BUT, once I DID know it and applied it, it changed everything! Let me show you this one secret that made playing those hard songs, super easy.
Are you ready for the secret? This is not it, but understanding how to properly use it to take ANY song in ANY key, and convert it into chords that you know and love and that is right under your fingers is a GAME-CHANGER! And I'm going to show you how to do just that. Now, I grew up playing rock, blues and classical and had never used a capo before. In fact, a lot of rockers would say things like, "using the capo is a crutch". If this is you, listen up, because NOTHING could be further from the truth. And I'm not talking about you reading "capo 3" and then putting your capo on fret 3. Check this out, I had been playing guitar for about 6 years when I moved to Nashville. What I discovered was that MANY amazing players were using capos and not just on the acoustic guitar. And I'm talking about live AND studio players alike. And once I realized the reason, I said to myself, "why are you making the guitar so hard"?
Now, before you can understand this, check this out. Piano and guitar are easiest played in C major and G major or their relative minor keys of A minor and E minor. That said, obviously, not all songs fall in those keys, so if you are a piano player, you need to learn all the major and minor chords and scales in all 12 keys! And that's just to play the basic chords. But, the guitar is different in this way.
Have you ever noticed that if you are in the key of C or G that most of the chords are easy? Like C, G, D or D-, E- and A-? Most of those are in what I call the 9 essential chords(which is in my course, which I will provide a link below that will get you free access). Now, these chords allow you to play thousands of songs without having to learn new chord forms IF you know this trick that I'm going to show you. But...have you ever played a song in the key of G#, C# or Bb? and did NOT use a capo? It's not fun my friends. And the reason those rockers say that using a capo is a crutch is that most rock songs are written in open keys like E, A, C or G where you have a lot of those easy chords. But, what if I told you that you could put EVERY song in the FEEL of C or G? What do I mean by "feel". Let me show you...
Have you ever followed a chord/lyric sheet and it says, capo 1, and then you followed the chords C, G, and D, for example? Well, if you told you the other melodic instrument players in your band to play, C, G, and D over that, it would sound terrible, because everything would be a half-step off. So, in that case, we are NOT actually playing in the key of G. we are actually playing in the key of G#. But, as guitar players, we don't think of it like this. We just say, Capo 1, G, C and D. So, if you have ever done this before, you are halfway there.
Thanks for watching this week's lesson featured here at Musicians Unite, I hope you found this lesson fun and helpful!!
Check back next week for another video!! In the meantime, please check out my website and social media pages!!
-Erich Andreas - MU Educator
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