What is a capo and how to use it to quickly play your favorite songs

by IanM on September 21, 2010

A capo is a device that clips across the strings on the neck of a guitar in order to raise it’s pitch.

This allows you to transpose your chords up in order to match the pitch of the song you want to play.

Guitar Capo

Using it, you will be able to play most songs using only the C Key and G Key chords and progressions.

For example, the song “With or without you” by U2 is originally in the D key.

The first chord in a song is usually an indication of the key it is in, though this is not always the case.

Anyway, because the song is originally in the D key, there are two ways you can play the D chord.

You can either:

  • Play D with no Capo OR
  • Play C with the Capo clipped to the 2nd fret (D key position) of the guitar.

To put it in simple visual terms:

The D CHORD hand position IN STANDARD TUNING…

D Major Chord Position - No Capo - Standard Tuning

…sounds the same as the C CHORD hand position – WHEN the Capo is on the 2nd FRET (D Key Position)

C Major Chord Position - Capo 2nd Fret

The second option is the faster option for beginners who want to learn and play guitar as soon as possible.

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