Use a Capo Chart to Make Playing Guitar Easier

How a Capo Changes Chords

A guitar being played with a trigger-style capo
A guitar being played with a trigger-style capo. Connormah/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

A lot of guitarists like to use a capo, which is a small bar that clamps onto the guitar neck a fret or more below the nut; the nut is the bar (usually white ) that delineates the top of the neck. Clamping on a capo essentially decreases the length of the neck, with all the pitch changes that accompany that.

Chords change as well; if you continue to use the same chord shape you used without the capo, then identify the fret number and the chord shape you're playing, you can discover the chord you are actually hearing.

The biggest advantage: Capos allow guitarists to play in tricky keys using basic open chords. But figuring out which fret to place the capo on can be confusing. The guitar capo chart below can make this task simpler by helping you determine where to place your capo for the desired sound.

Using the Guitar Capo Chart

1. How to play a song in the original key using simpler chords.

  • Find the root of the chords you're trying to play in the far left-most column (don't worry about the type of chord; if you're trying to play a B♭ minor chord, just look for B♭).
  • Check the columns to the right, and look for a capo fret number that allows you to play all the chords in the original key using open chords.
  • Place the capo at the specified fret, and play the chords in the column underneath that fret. They will sound like the chords in the far left-most column.

2. How to know which chords you're playing when using a capo.

If you put a capo somewhere on the neck of the guitar and play the same chords as you would have without a capo, you're ultimately playing different chords despite not changing the chord shapes. To find out which chords you are playing:

  • Find the fret where the capo is by looking at the top row of the chart.
  • Look down the column to find the chord, in other words, the chord shape that you're playing. Don't worry about the type of chord, for instance, whether you're playing a D major or a D minor chord. Just look for D.
  • Look at the first column to identify the chord you're actually playing, i.e., the one you're hearing.

Guitar Capo Chart

Open Chord1st fret2nd fret3rd fret4th fret5th fret6th fret7th fret8th fret
A♯ (B♭)A G FE D
C♯ (D♭)CB A G F
D♯ (E♭)D CB A G
F♯ (G♭)FE D CB 
G♯ (A♭)G FE D C

That's it. Choose a guitar capo that suits you, and use the guitar capo chart to play the chords of your dreams. Good luck and happy guitar playing.