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Ok to Practice in Different Keys?

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Eminent Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 12
Topic starter  

I've found that learning songs that require a major stretch of the fingers are easier when you put on the capo and place it on the 4th or 5th fret. Obviously, the stretch is not as far.

So I'm currently practicing a song for a wedding (still 10 months away) which will actually be played in C, and I'm "cheating" by practicing w the capo on the 4-5th fret. My question is whether I'm setting myself up for problems later because of improper training or do other people commonly do this as a way to learn to stretch out their fingers?

There is one part where I must stretch so much that I can't even begin to make the stretch in the no capo position, but can barely do it w/ the capo at the 5th fret.

Thank you!


PS, love the new Guitar Noise look!

Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5342

Practising with a capo is fine, even if the original score doesn't require you to do so. If you've practised a song using a capo in various places and you audition a singer who wants you to play your biggest song a tone higher what are you going to do? Transpose the chords on the fly? Sit down and write it all out in the new key before you play? Or are you going to slam a capo on the 2nd fret and play the shapes you know?

I perform a fair amount of great stuff from the Renaissance, so I practise it on my regular guitar with the 3rd string down to F# both with no capo and capo on 3. I also practise the same material on my backup guitar - also with the 3rd string tuned to F#, both with capo on and capo off, and tuned to A=415 (rather than A=440) to replicate the sound of the Renaissance lute. On stage, it's A=440, 3rd string down to F# and capo on 3 - I'd be lost without my capo, and I'm sure my fingers appraciate not having to make those pretty grotesque stretches.

I notice some players perform the same stuff as I do but with the capo on 2. Interesting......

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
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Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 8184

unless you're trying to play notes that are over two octaves apart, you might be able to find an alternative fingering that doesn't require a harsh stretch.

Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4472

If the wedding is ten months away, you probably won't have all that much trouble with it starting now. Play it with the capo on four or five for no longer than just getting comfortable with it and then move it down one fret (capo three or four) and play it that way for a week. Then down one more fret and so on until you're at open position again.

You could also, by the way, transpose the song into G and then play it with the capo on the fifth fret because it would be in the key of C. That's assuming you're comfortable with the chords as they would be in the key of G.

Hope this helps.