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Using a capo to change song key....

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Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 24
Topic starter  

Hi folks,
I know there's a couple of articles on capos & song keys by David on here, but i'm having trouble putting it all together. Basically, there is a song (
that has chords such as Bb, Eb, Cm, etc.
Changing it to a different key would be simpler for some of us instead of using chords like Bb, Eb, etc. But in order to know what fret to put the capo on, I have to know what key the song is in, right?

And once that is done, for example if I put the capo on the 3rd fret, how do i know what the chords get transposed to? Ie. Bb -> G, etc.

Any pointers, advice, help would be appreciated.

Dan Lasley
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2118

Methinks you've already got it.

You are correct that putting the capo 3 frets up moves the chords 3 half-steps down. So the song is now played G C Am.

Knowing the key makes it easier to make the changes, but "doing it by hand" works well too.

For example, did you consider capo-1? That would have been A D Bm, but some folk don't like to fret Bm.

As noted in David's columns, there are also voicing issues. The D is played on 4 strings, and the C on 5 strings:
From lowest to highest tones:
Root Root
5th 5th
8va 8va
3rd 3rd

That extra 3rd is important to the sound of the chord.

Keep it up, you're going in the right direction.


Prominent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 724

This won't help you with the capo but it's a really handy tool for changing the key and chords of a song.

And here's a capo conversion chart.

Tim Madsen
Nobody cares how much you know,
until they know how much you care.

"What you keep to yourself you lose, what you give away you keep forever." -Axel Munthe

Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 24
Topic starter  

Thanks very much both of you. I'll keep working at it. Good to know i'm on the right track ;-)