Got a capo? I used to think that using a capo was a cheater’s way of transposing a song. Over time I’ve come to appreciate the cool sounds a capo can enable you to produce. Here are a few ideas to consider when using a capo. First, wherever you position your capo, consider that fret to be the “new open position”. Let’s say for example that you put a capo on the second fret. You can use all of your open chords two frets above where you would usually play them. When you play the fingering for a G major open chord, to your fingers you will be playing a G major. But your ears will hear an A major chord. Sure, you can play an A major bar chord or an open A major chord, but this is a different voicing or arrangement of the notes.
Here are two ideas to try with a capo. First is the easy and obvious one, throw on a capo and experiment with some new voicings. Discover what key your fingers are thinking about versus what key you are actually hearing. Keep moving the capo around to different frets to find new and cool sounds. Second, find a song that you already know the chords for and see if you can play the song in the same key while using a capo. For example, The Tom Petty song Last Dance With Mary Jane is in the key of A Dorian. The chords for the verse are Am, G, D, and Am again. Put a capo on the 5th fret and play Em, D, A, and Em again. Your fingers will be thinking in E Dorian, but your ears will hear Am, G, and D, only in different voicings. Pretty cool! Give it a shot and have fun with it!