14 Ways to Escape the First 4 Frets. Part 1
Escape #1: The Capo
I know, that was easy. But we underestimate the power of the capo. The capo is best known for two uses:
- "This song's too low for my voice." Start capo'ing up the neck until it feels good.
- "E flat sucks." Along with every other flat key and several sharp keys.
So capo 1 and play in D. Or capo 3 and play C.
As a young rock star (in my own jr. high pubescent mind), I heard an older, wiser sage of the guitar (he was probably in high school) say, "Capos?! Those are just cheaters!" Thus began several grueling years of slogging through hand-numbing bar chords to play in every "enemy of the guitar" key. Somehow I rediscovered the truth that the guitar, especially the acoustic, was made to play open. I began to use a capo again. Unapologetically. At first it was for the two uses above. But then, I started to try other uses:
New frets. New Sounds. Think "Here Comes the Sun" from Beatles' Abby Road album. Capo'ing at the 5th fret and beyond creates different qualities of sound. Go high enough and it gets mandolin-ish. Consider using this approach...
...for faster, more percussive songs. The high tension of the capo'd strings have a snap and feel that creates great sounding fast rhythm. Listen to bluegrass sometime...notice that when the mandolin player isn't playing a lead, he's the principle percussionist.
...to cut through a mid-range heavy band. (Likely created by piano players who use all ten fingers all the time and the electric guitarist chunking out 6th string root power chords.) Open position chords are going to be lost in a situation like this. For example...
These articles and series are developed with the worship team guitarist in mind. But even if you don't play in on a church worship team or play worship music, the stuff we'll talk about here is 99% transferrable to other genres.
All the chord and scale diagrams at worshipguitarworkshop.com are made with QwikChord3, and the name doesn't lie...it's quick. I've been using QC for a few years now, and I'm not sure how I'd do my workshops without it.