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Guitar using a capo.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mizmor, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. mizmor


    May 9, 2008
    I think this fits here. When a guitarist is using a capo, the bass doesn't need to use one, right? What do you actually play when the guitarist is using a capo. Like, if they're capo'd and playing A, would you just play A? Thanks....
  2. Miz- You're correct. Guitarists use capo's to help with chording. And to look cool.
    If they're playing in A, that's the root noe you should work off of. No capo required for your bass. Unless you just want to look cool.
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  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I'm not sure you are saying what you really want to say, maybe.
    The first thing to understand is that a capo is like changing the tuning, right? So if the capo is on the first fret it's the equivalent of tuning the guitar UP a half step. So if he is playing the A chord in the position and fingering he uses WITHOUT a capo, then no it's not an A chord. It's UP a half step or a Bb chord.

    Does that make things any clearer?
  5. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
  6. dkhp124


    Nov 14, 2007
    just wondering.. if they capo and play in A.. is that relative to the capo? or just A in general..?

    for example, if he capos on the 3rd fret and plays in G relative to where the capo'd fret is, then you play in A#..

    You can think of the capo as basically taking the nut of the bass and moving it to whichever fret the capo is on.

    ... you probably already knew this but
    ^ this kind of made me wonder what you were talking about. If he played a song in A and you played in A as well, and then he put the capo on and then started playing the same things couple frets up, then you'd obviously have to adjust because that's a whole different key.. but that still doesn't mean you'd need a capo unless you're playing the same things he's playing or something. if you're sticking to individual notes and not like crazy chord strumming and stuff, then i dont see why you'd need a capo really.

    anyway, for all i know, you could have meant something totally different by the question and whatever i said is just completely obvious to you lol.. if that's the case i apologize!
  7. mizmor


    May 9, 2008
    No it's answered. I get it. If he's playing up half a step then I play the note up half a step. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

    I was saying, if he's say, capo'd at the first fret and plays the A on the E string on the guitar (I do know that once the capo is on it's no longer an A, though) I would I play an A also, but if he's one half-step up then I go one half step up. Thanks....
  8. jimmy rocket

    jimmy rocket

    Jan 24, 2008
    Ayden, NC
    The guitarists in my band move capos like they're changing chords. I never use a capo so I'm always transposing.

    It's a pain sometimes, but on the upside, you look like a more knowledgeable musician :)
  9. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Guys, it doesn't matter if a guitarist is using a capo or not. They key of say, "A", is always gonna be "A" or whatever key or chord they are using.

    If a guitarist has capo'd the first fret and is playing what would be a traditional open E, then it's now an F. He shouldn't be telling you he playing an open E chord, because he isn't anymore. It's not really any different than using alternate tunings.

    No wat m sayin?
  10. jimmy rocket

    jimmy rocket

    Jan 24, 2008
    Ayden, NC
    Right, but not every guitarist can tell you what key they're in. In my situation they move the capos all around and then say "I'm playing a C" which is now a D# or something.
  11. MikeGee


    Nov 7, 2009
    If there is any confusion ask the guitar player to play his root with his capo where he wants it through a tuner.
  12. JT Bass

    JT Bass

    Jun 2, 2009
    So true. I've played with some great rock and roll guitarists, dudes that know their theory inside and out, and it's still always "I'm playing in C maj but capo'ed on the second fret."

    "So D maj then?"

    "No, C, just capo'ed on the second fret."
  13. My Band Uses Capos all the time. depending on where you put the capo.. like if you capo the 2nd frett just move the note your playing down 2 fretts :)
  14. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    LOL....Just watch the confusion on thier face as they try to count up 2 frets from C and figure it out.
  15. msiner


    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    I am a guitarist and I use the capo a lot for the music at my church. Traditionally, like others have said, you use a capo to help with chording. That being said, I think there are guitarists who use capos to change the key of a song. That is, they play the same chords at different positions, but not the same notes. If you ask a guitarist with a capo, "what chord is that?" you could get either the real answer or the capo answer. Asking the key should always get you the real answer (or a deer-in-the-headlights look). So I guess this post is just a warning that you might not want to assume any sort of consistency in an answer from a guitarist or if you play with the same few then just ask them how they answer that question to avoid any confusion.
  16. superiorpine

    superiorpine Superiorpine Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2007
    Milwaukee WI
    The guitarists in my band use capos alot, from back when half of their set was acoustic. However, they don't always place them on the same fret for a given song, which can lead to a messy start as I have to slide up or down to where we normally play. Now I try to keep a list so I can remind them.......
  17. dkhp124


    Nov 14, 2007
    LOL i know some guitarists who think whatever the first chord of the song is is the key that the song is in... :eek:


    btw no bashing on guitarists in general intended... im not a fan of the whole "gui**** bashing" thing going on in tb.. and i've mostly had good guitarists who understood their place and my place in the band so i never really got involved with a crazy egomaniac of a guitarist.. i also used to be a guitarist myself :p i just said what i said because it's funny thinking about it lol.
  18. JT Bass

    JT Bass

    Jun 2, 2009
    "LOL i know some guitarists who think whatever the first chord of the song is is the key that the song is in... "

    Ha! So true.
  19. Tenma4


    Jan 26, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    Keeping a list to remind the guitarist(s) where their capo goes is a great idea I take to heart. If I don't have the list, my standard answers is "your pocket". It is my belief a guitarist should be able to play a song with or without a capo, but the capo merely makes a song a bit easier due to convenience.

    That being said, I play g****r as well, and I use a capo from time to time.
  20. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Looks like the question has been answered. But some comments seem to malign the use of a capo. Here's why good guitarists use them. They want the sound of open strings ringing while the change chords. I can play songs in Ab and Eb, but it's not going to sound the same with most of the chords being barred across all six strings instead of playing in G or D with the capo at the 1st fret. Depends on what sound the guitarist is going for.

    Another good use of a capo is to open up voicings if there are multiple guitarists. When I was the 3rd guitarist in band, I used a capo to play "Hotel California", "Little Wing" and a couple of others. That was so when I hit the tonic, it was a different voicing from what the other two were playing.

  21. JT Bass

    JT Bass

    Jun 2, 2009
    Just as an aside, and stemming from dhkp's edit regarding guitarist bashing, I think at times that as a very broad generalization more guitar players are natural 'ear' musicians who aren't too concerned with proper nomenclature, and bass players tend to be more analytical, maybe even mathematical, about music and their instruments. That's been my experience anyway.