Q&A: How Does a Capo Change a Song's Key?

Lesson #481 • Mar 29, 2023

Description

Hey there, friends! Today I want to answer an audience question on the topic of capos, and how capo use does (or doesn’t!) effect the chords & key we’re using to play any given song. I’ll also share a handy little “equation” I recommend memorizing on this topic, to ensure you’re able to solve this on your own going forward.

Here’s the question I’ll answer, sent in by Judy:

Hi! I met a harmonica player who wants to play along with me for Heart of Gold. I need to be able to tell him which chords to play. I'm following your version (Key of G) – but I add a capo on 1st fret because it is easier to sing to.

But I'm not sure how the capo will affect the
key & chords for his harmonica part.

Can you help give me some guidance so he knows how to accompany me please? He would like to get some practice in before we meet up. Thanks!

In addition to answering her specific question, I’ll also explain a related situation of using a capo to intentionally change the chords you’re playing — while the staying in the same key as the recording you’re following. This may sound a bit tricky, but it uses the same equation I refer to above!

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My Previous Video On This Topic

A few years back, I answered a similar question! There’s definitely a lot of overlap in this older video vs. my new one – but are definitely some unique nuggets in this older clip. So, I’m sharing it here! Check it out if you’re interested.

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