Guitar Capo Chart

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. Below is a quick and easy 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
First Fret A𝄰/B𝄬 C𝄰/D𝄬 D𝄰/E𝄬 F G𝄰/A𝄬 A𝄰m/B𝄬m D𝄰m/E𝄬m Fm
Second Fret B D E F𝄰/G𝄬 A Bm Em F𝄰m/G𝄬m
Third Fret C D𝄰/E𝄬 F G A𝄰/B𝄬 Cm Fm Gm
Fourth Fret C𝄰/D𝄬 E F𝄰/G𝄬 G𝄰/A𝄬 B C𝄰m/D𝄬m F𝄰m/G𝄬m G𝄰m/A𝄬m
Fifth Fret D F G A C Dm Gm Am
Sixth Fret D𝄰/E𝄬 F𝄰/G𝄬 G𝄰/A𝄬 A𝄰/B𝄬 C𝄰/D𝄬 D𝄰m/E𝄬m G𝄰m/A𝄬m A𝄰m/B𝄬m
Seventh Fret E G A B D Em Am Bm
Eighth Fret F G𝄰/A𝄬 A𝄰/B𝄬 C D𝄰/E𝄬 Fm A𝄰m/B𝄬m Cm
Ninth Fret F𝄰/G𝄬 A B C𝄰/D𝄬 E F𝄰m/G𝄬m Bm C𝄰m/D𝄬m
Tenth Fret G A𝄰/B𝄬 C D F Gm Cm Dm
Eleventh Fret G𝄰/A𝄬 B C𝄰/D𝄬 D𝄰/E𝄬 F𝄰/G𝄬 G𝄰m/A𝄬m C𝄰m/D𝄬m D𝄰m/E𝄬m

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.

Chords to Boulevard of Broken Dreams No Capo
INTRO
Fm  G# D#  A#

FIRST VERSE

Fm       G#
I walk a lonely road
    D#             A#           Fm
The only one that I have ever known
           G#
Don't know where it goes
D#                 A#             Fm   G#  D#  A#
But it's home to me and I walk alone

SECOND VERSE

Fm            G#
I walk this empty street
D#         A#            Fm
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
          G#
Where the city sleeps
    D#              A#           Fm    G#
and I'm the only one and I walk alone

BRIDGE
D#          A#        Fm   G#
I walk alone, I walk alone
D#             A#
I walk alone, I walk a...

CHORUS
C#     G#         D#              Fm
My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
C#      G#      D#              Fm
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating
C#     G#       D#               Fm
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
C#      G#    C7
Till then I walk alone

....


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:

  1. Find the First Fm in the chart. In this case it is on the first row column 8.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Chords to Boulevard of Broken Dreams Using Capo on First Fret with converted chords

Intro
Em  G  D   A 

FIRST VERSE

Em       G 
I walk a lonely road
    D              A            Em
The only one that I have ever known
           G 
Don't know where it goes
D                  A              Em   G   D   A 
But it's home to me and I walk alone

SECOND VERSE

Em            G 
I walk this empty street
D          A             Em
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
          G 
Where the city sleeps
    D               A            Em    G 
and I'm the only one and I walk alone

BRIDGE
D           A         Em   G 
I walk alone, I walk alone
D              A 
I walk alone, I walk a...

CHORUS
C      G          D               Em
My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
C       G       D               Em
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating
C      G        D                Em
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
C       G     B7
Till then I walk alone

....

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