Warford here, Editorial Manager for Guitar Tips.
so often, we decide to dive into a new aspect of playing guitar that
many are either afraid of, or just simply have no idea what it's all
about. Today, we're going to tackle one of the more feared issues
evolving around guitar... Transposition.
us as we teach you the most simplistic and easy ways to transpose your
Getting That Riff In Your Favorite
to get started.
many times have we composed a riff that we absolutely love, or perhaps
found a song that we really enjoy playing and wanted to put it into a
new, original song and truly make it ours? Chances are that we've all
wanted to at least try it out once or twice but always came across one
mentioned in our last article, the probability that two riffs will be
in the same key is very low if you are writing a lot of songs or wish
to link two well known songs together. This is where you need to
transpose one of those riffs so you can connect them together and put
them in that song.
scenario is that you just wrote an awesome riff that you envision going
into one of your band's songs... The only problem is that it's in the
wrong key! With transposing, you can still use that riff and play along
with the rest of the band.
you're a true band nerd, like myself, you have probably been around
transposition since the days of Jr. High or Middle School. Now, if
you're still like me, you didn't have two clicks on how to do it
either. I was always amazed to see how my teacher would take a trumpet
part and transpose it so I could play it on my sax and still be in the
guitar, this is invaluable. You can take a sax part and transpose it to
your guitar. If you happen to have a sax player around, you can now
play along with that sax and still be in the proper key.
of the most unique things about playing guitar is that we have a number
of tools available to us to use for easy transposition. Many other
musicians envy us for this and call us cheaters in the game of music
theory, however, if you can use it... Why not?
tools that you can use.
of the most common tools used to transpose music on the guitar is the
capo. The capo is essentially a piece of rubber that is glued onto two
pieces of metal with a spring placed in between. When clasped onto the
neck of your guitar and placed behind a fret, it acts as a new nut (AKA
the "zero" nut.) This new nut raises the pitch of your guitar,
therefore changing the key.
guitarists use them so they can make really complicated chords into
easy open chord shapes. This is where the whole joke about cheating
comes in. Instead of actually practicing those really hard chords and
getting your technique down, you can transpose that chord using the
capo and turn it into an open chord shape such as an E Major or an A
and still have the same chord.
I don't recommend that you always do that because it's always good to
know how to play a song if your capo breaks, it's great for live
performances where you want to minimize the risk of messing up a
complicated chord. If you're a lead guitarist, you can still use a capo
but in all honesty, it's far easier to find the key that everyone else
is playing in relative to the capo and just use the scale that suites
the song best.
most cases, it's actually quicker for a lead guitarist not to use a
capo and just find a scale. Switching a capo around the neck of your
guitar can cost valuable seconds between songs.
enough talk, you want to know how this works, right? Ok, lets start by
looking at the chart below:
lets put this chart into practice. Suppose you are playing a song in
the key of A and the chords that you are playing are A, D, and F#. The
problem is, you want to play along with the rest of your band and they
are playing in the key of B. Simply look at your chart and find the A
chord, which is in the first column. Then look to see what capo number
B falls under. In this case, it's fret number 2, so you place your capo
on number two.
to play the same chord shapes as you were before. The difference this
time is that A, D and F# have now turned into B, E, and G#. You have
just transposed a chord progression!
you're unsure of where to start so you can transpose those chords,
follow these quick steps:
what key you are currently in.
that note (for example A) to locate your position on the chart.
move over to the right and find the note of the key you are looking for
a look at what fret number that note falls under and place your capo
that we know how to use the capo to transpose, there are a few
techniques to get the best tone while using a capo. Looking past its
theoretical use... The capo is not unlike your pick. There are tips on
taking care of it and which ones that you should get over another,
because there are differences.
off, it would probably help you if you knew what one of these things
looked like. This is one of the more popular models made by Kyser.
capos are in the same price range and it comes down to personal
preference. Be prepared to pay around $17 USD for something that should
last you a lifetime. Kyser and Shubb are the leaders in this industry
and have made a product that is absolutely superb. Jim Dunlop is also
on the scene with some honorable mentions but this editor recommends
one capo over all of the rest... The Shubb capo.
has a unique trait that isn't found on other capos... Tension
adjustment. You see, when you place something that's spring powered
onto your strings, you're bound to end up pulling them sharp... And
playing out of tune isn't something that we enjoy.
capos have a little knob where you can slightly release a bit of that
tension and your guitar will go back into tune. You can check out Shubb
capos by clicking here.
using a capo, you want to place it inline with the fret you are putting
it behind and keep it roughly a mm away from the fret (see picture
above for proper reference.) Do not, I repeat, do not place a capo
directly in between two frets, it's always closest to the fret in which
you wish you place the capo on.
now and then you should place a few drops of light oil on the pivot
point of the capo to keep it functioning properly.
a lot of newer alternatives to capos that are now on the market. There
are capos especially for 12 string guitars, acoustic guitar, electric
guitar, or both. However, my new favorite gadgets include capos that
can give you drop D tunings and capos that only cover half of the
strings... These are called partial capos. You can use them alone or
with another capo.
can give you really exotic tunings in a jiffy, without the need of a
tuner and a lot of patience. It's perfect for the guitarist who writes
a lot of songs with weird tunings but only has one guitar to perform
on. I personally use them for the enjoyment of the beautiful sounds you
can get from them.
Putting It All Together
that we have the tools, how about you hear what it sounds like? Here
are some quick compositions that anyone can do. Notice how the sounds
differ from one another depending on where the capo is placed. It's a
lot of fun and I encourage you to try new chords using the capo in
different locations and see what you come up with... You might just
Relative to the capo on the 5th fret.
how it sounds:
to capo on the 2nd fret.
how it sounds:
may have noticed my improv near the end of both riffs. This is my way
of showing you that you can do this too and it's not that hard! Be
yourself and you're bound to make music that inspires.
we have come to the part of the newsletter where we rap things up yet
again. I truly hope that you feel more confident in your abilities as a
musician and no matter how daunting the task of transposition may seem
to you at this point in time, I encourage you to continue to try! It
will be well worth it to you in the long run.
your credit, it isn't easy picking this stuff up if you don't know a
little bit about music theory. Over the coming months, we're going to
show you some of the inside tricks of music theory that any guitarist
can use. Next week we'll approach the subject from a different angle
and also give you a brand new challenge to work on.
another guitar related note, my apologies for the lack of video and
audio in the last two newsletters. Things have been a little hectic
around here as of late but I assure you that you can look forward to
more video and MP3's in the near future!
next time, keep on picking!
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