Category Archives: capo

SONGWRITING: using the least amount of bar chords (guitarists)

Everyone’s gotta learn their bar chords, without a doubt. They are essential, especially the shapes for F (which is also the shape of Bm), and B (which comes from the open A shape).

However, if you’re dead-set on not using bar chords (again, NOT recommended)…. try this…

key of C:
F is the only bar chord, but you can play it in triad form, on the top 3 treble strings (xxx211), or the top 4… xx3211)

key of G:
Bm is the only bar chord here, but you can also play it in triad form, on the top 3 treble strings (xxx432), or the top 4… xx4432)

key of C– use a capo with the “key of G shapes” (and avoiding the Bm shape entirely, thus ignoring chord iii, which isn’t always necessary in most chord progressions)

capo position: 5th
G shape– chord I (C)
Am shape– chord ii (Dm)
C shape– chord IV (F)
D shape– chord V (G)
Em shape– chord vi (Am)

key of G– use a capo with the “key of C shapes” (and avoiding the F shape entirely)

capo position: 7th
C shape– chord I (G)
Dm shape– chord ii (Am)
Em shape– chord iii (Bm)
D triad shape at the 12th fret (xxx12_13_12 — actual frets)– chord IV (C) or use F triad shape (xxx211 – frets relative to capo)
G shape– chord V (D)
Am shape– chord vi (Em)

using a capo in the key of E (without ever having to play a bar chord for the B chord, and including chord iii and chord vi, as triad forms)

capo position- 2nd
D shape– chord I (E)
Em shape– chord II (F#m)
minor triad shape (xxx222)– chord iii (G#m)
G shape– chord IV (A)
A shape– chord V (B)
minor triad shape (xxx432)– chord vi (C#m)

alternate key of E
capo- NOT USED
E shape– chord I (E)
minor triad shape (xxx222)– chord ii (F#m)
minor triad shape (xxx444)– chord iii (G#m)
A shape– chord IV (A)
major triad shape (xx444x)– chord V (B)
minor triad shape (xxx654)– chord vi (C#m)

Hope you guys and girls find this helpful…. especially for you beginners out there, eager to write songs. However, don’t neglect your bar chords! This is just a useful tool to pull out every now and then, when you’re feeling lazy or when your fingers hurt.

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