Singing songs on the guitar is great fun, and probably one of the reasons a lot of people learn to play the guitar in the first place. However, it can sometimes be frustrating. Picture this – you hear a cool song, get the chords for it, and sit down to have a go at singing along with it on your guitar. However, you then find that the chords that you have written down aren’t really in the right key for your voice, and singing the song over those chords is a bit of a struggle.
You can look at transposing those chords into a different key, and then trying again, and you will eventually find the right key for your voice. Transposing chords though, while a useful exercise, can be a bit time consuming, and beginner guitarists may not know exactly how to convert chords into another key.
An alternative approach, which can be a lot quicker and easier, is to use a rather simple but nifty guitar gadget, the guitar capo.
The guitar capo is a small device that you can clip to the neck of your guitar, which effectively changes the pitch or sound of all of the strings together. The further up the guitar neck you move it, the higher the change in pitch. This means that a chord shape played using a capo is a different sounding chord to that same chord shape played without the capo. An open ‘G’ guitar chord say will sound like an ‘A’ chord with a capo at the second fret, even though you’re still playing the open ‘G’ chord shape.
So how does this help you when you’re playing guitar and singing?
Well if you find yourself in the situation above, where the written chords aren’t right for your voice, take the capo, and attach it at the second or third fret on your guitar neck. Then try playing the song again, using exactly the same chords and chord shapes that you were playing before. The sound of the chords will be slightly higher. Then try singing along again – you may find that the tune is more within your vocal range now.
If not, just repeat this step, and move the capo up another fret or two, and try singing with it again. You should be able to find a spot for the capo that makes the song the best fit for your voice. Just be careful not to go too high for your voice though, as you could strain it, so use common sense when trying this.
I find that the best thing about this technique is how quickly and easily you can find the right key to sing in. You don’t have to worry about transposing chords into different keys, just moving the guitar capo to a different fret will do this for you. This means you can focus completely on getting the singing right, and you’re then less likely to discard a song because it doesn’t fit your voice, which means you’ll end up with more songs in your repertoire!