Sometimes its hard to get that great tone you get from an open chord when using barre chords. Even if you know all the barre chords and the variations, sometimes its just not practical to play the song in barred chords or perhaps the ‘feel’ you’re looking for comes from an open chord configuration. This is particularly true if you are picking out arpeggios with a pick or your fingers or need to have quick/smooth transitions between chords. If you have a Guitar Capo, below is a quick reference Guitar Capo Chart to convert guitar chords from a key that uses difficult barred chords to an open chord configuration. Its pretty simple:
- In the Guitar Capo Chart, find the first occurrence of the difficult chord in the table
- Look on the fret column (far left column) in that row. That is the fret you put the capo on
- Look at the chords row (top row) for the open chord in the column of the chord you which to convert
That’s it! You can convert almost any key to an open chord configuration. Look below the table there are several examples to help you more in how to use the Guitar Capo Chart
|Open Chord ->||A||C||D||E||G||Am||Dm||Em|
A Guitar Capo Chart usage example
For an example of how to use the chart, we’ll use an excerpt of Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. If you look at the chords for the song in the actual pitch the song was recorded, the song seems quite challenging.
There is an alternative chord progression
Using the chart above, we can figure out where we can place the capo and use open chords for the song. The song is written in the key of Fm. Here is how you convert it:
- Find the First Fm in the chart. In this case it is on the first row column 8.
- Since Fm was in the first row you need to identify the open chords by looking at the top column for the open chord that matches. These will be the open chords for the key of Fm when the capo is on the first fret. For example the open chored for Fm is Em when the capo is on the 1st fret.
- For this song go through all the chords and convert:
- Fm = Em
- C# = C
- D# = D
- G# = G
- C7 = B7 – Note: this chord isn’t in the chart as it is not one of the common open chords we’ve identified, you can omit or play the B7 chord when using the capo.
If you don’t like the first set of chords you identify you can proceed by finding the next occurrence and checking out those chords. In this example, the capo on the first fret is the only one that makes sense.