A Capo For Two: Jamming for Beginners

In this lesson, we'll use a guitar capo and the CAGED System in a very practical way - jamming with friends!


View the full lesson at A Capo For Two: Jamming for Beginners | JustinGuitar

Hello Justin,
I find your lessons abolutely brilliant and I enjoy every bit of them.
Maybe I could suggest an idea in support of choosing an electroacoustic guitar instead of a purely acoustic one. It allows the use of a looper. Then your “2 guitar” issue is easily solved : I play the open chord version and stick it into the looper memory, then the capo’ed one and add it in on top. Then I can spend hours improvising in G, A, or whatever I choose as key. It’s great fun!
Paul from Brest in France :slight_smile:

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This is a great lesson to help connect the dots to the fretboard (sorry bad pun) :grinning:. Question, would it be useful to try the capoed chords with 2,3 &4 fingers only. The thought is to get The muscle memory for them in preparing for bar chord. Or would that teach some sort of bad form to have to correct later?

Can you add a chapter in the video at the point where the jam track starts? Would be very convenient!

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For the open chord cheat sheet, i think it is a little hard to figure out at first glance. what would help is to have written in the grey area row at the top : “Desired Chord” … and written alongside all the rows on the right hand side: “Chord Shape To Form”…or something like that. Thanks

I am confused. In the earlier beginner courses, we learned a capo can be used to increase the octave (say a female wants to sing a part originally sung by a male), but you can keep the same chord shapes. Now this lesson is saying to get the same chords, you will have to use different chord shapes from the CAGED system. So if I put a capo on the 3rd fret and make an A shape, that is no longer an A? So how how can it still work if you just want to increase the octave and play the same shapes?

Basically , my question is if we use a capo and still keep the same chord shape as an open chord, how does that still work in a song if it changes the note entirely (say a G chord shape with a capo on the 5th fret is now a C). Why does it still sound good?

Welcome to the community Brian.
A capo works two differeny ways.

  1. It changes the chord you are playing by the amount of senitones
    the capo is placed on the neck
    Foe example if you put the capo on the second fret and play a G
    shaped chord you are playing a A chord. Two semitones higher
    than G .

  2. It I play a open A chord and you have the capo on the second
    fret and you play a G shaped chord we are both playing an A chord. For example we are playing a song using a 1 4 5 chord
    progression. I would play A D and E you with the capo fret two
    Would play G C D.
    Hope that helped

I don’t know if I’m just missing something but I can’t see the Resources tab where the downloadable files would be. I could see it before, in the old web site design, but since the redesign it’s no longer there… Help!

My belief, I think in this stage he is starting to introduce the the chords down the neck. Eventually moving to bar chords. Justin seems to carefully introduce concepts to build on and develop for latter implementation . The chart is kind of the cheat sheet. Hence if you have to study it closer and put together the note on the neck and the associated chord. Then it is helping to get you thinking about the note/neck structure.

Thanks Stitch. I think I understand that aspect. But in Grade 1, the cap o could be moved up the neck and still play the same chord shapes. I am just reconciling how the same chord shapes can be used to increase the pitch, but the chords are changing. Thanks.

I think I understand your question,

This is an execise for 2 guitars so if one has a capo on already to raise the pitch for the singer then the other guitar will also use a capo but in a higher position to make use of different chord shapes.

So lets say Guitar 1 has a capo on the 2nd fret… Play a G Major shape and that is A Major in tonality. Guitar 2 could have the cao on the 5th fret and strum an E Major shape. It’s also A Major but sounds slighly different due to the chord shape used.

When a capo is used and Justin is talking us through a song, he is actually naming the chord shape used rather than the actual chord name because its notes have changed but it is simpler to explain it that way. If in doubt, revisit your F chord lesson. An F barre chord is an E Major shape raised 1 fret,

Hope this helps dude

That chart is extremely helpful!

A really interesting lesson which made me stop and review my music theory! It all became a bit clearer when I realised that there are two separate things going on - one, the idea of CAGED and finding different ways to voice a chord all over the fretboard, and then two, using a capo to alter the sound so that two guitars can play together. I need to find a jam buddy! Thanks Justin for your deep thinking and effort to make guitar-learning a rich and rewarding experience.

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A couple of days after watching this lesson I stumbled upon a great example song by accident. I looked up the open chords for a strummed version (not the complicated finger style that’s on the recording) of Helplessly Hoping by Crosby Stills & Nash on Ultimate Guitar, and the person who submitted version 4 very kindly and helpfully added the chords to substitute for playing with a capo at fret 5, which I double-checked against Justin’s cheat-sheet. It sounds great! I don’t have a jam buddy but I have a looper I’ve been waiting to try out and this will kill two birds with one stone. A song lesson on this would be INCREDIBLY valuable if Justin cares to consider it…

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Btabler you bring up a good point. If you were to play the song in open position with G, D, C chord and it sounds good, then with a copo on say fret 5, with a G, D, C shape, you would be playing a C, A, G chord, which still sound good by its self.
If you record yourself in open position and then try to play a long in a capoed fret (perhaps 5th) with same shape chords it sounds horrible.
I think what we are doing in this situation is changing the key…? Going from key of G to C. Is this correct?
When we capo the fret and play along with the recording with same actual chord (not shape) it sounds great.

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Yes that’s exactly right and perfectly explained.

A capo can be used to change the key you are playing in or to allow you to use different chord grips / shapes / voicings to either make it easier or to contrast against another instrument.

The reason why it sounds horrible putting a capo on the 5th fret but keeping the same chord shapes is because you have altered the key hence the chords have all the wrong notes.
Likewise by putting the capo on the 5th but altering the shapes the chord tones are correct but they sound slightly different due to the difference in the order the notes present themselves as you strum.

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This is like a math puzzle. I like it.

At some point during the lesson, Justin says something like: “You might think this is way too complicated, and that you would just like to play guitar”.

But personally, this is exactly the kind of content I am waiting for :stuck_out_tongue: Something past the very basic, and a bit challenging to understand…but super rewarding once you get it!!

Having started with Grade 1 Lesson 1 couple of years back, the now higher difficulty level makes it feel like I am evolving along with the course, and that feels great.

Thank you again for the great content!

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Let me second ToadyG - on Safari (Mac, iPhones, etc) I don’t see the Resources link that Justin mentions in the lesson.