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I'm teaching myself guitar, I've enjoyed finding songs I like and slowly teaching myself the chords, but sometimes when I go to a song some of the chords have a capo and others don't. I'd understand if there was a break to put a capo on but often a chord with a capo and a chord with no capo are right next to each other, even on songs marked novice. What are your supposed to do to switch between these chords?

  • 4
    Why do you think the line indicates a capo? It might just indicate a Barre with the index finger. I think there's mistake in the B diagram - it's inconsistent between the A and high E strings as to whether 'o' means 'play open'. Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 22:59
  • B is defnitely wrong. Should be fretted at 2 on the 5th string as shown: ignore the 'o'. The E5 and C#5 'chords' are also pretty odd. Never seen those in 59 years.
    – user207421
    Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 0:25
  • @MarquisofLorne Those are power chords: 1st and 5th. Some people notate them as "N5". Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 19:31

2 Answers 2


That's not a capo, that's one of your fingers! Those are called barre chords, and you use one finger to press multiple strings.

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    To add one thought. On most barre chords, your finger acts like a "movable capo". For example on the chords shown in the question, the F#m Chord will sound exactly the same as if you put a capo on the second fret and played a first position Em chord. Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 2:14
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    You can also get a slide, which might be easier for some people. They sell these at music supply stores, but basically any straight, rigid tube that fits over your index finger will do. Some people use the neck sliced off of a beer bottle (smooth the edges so you don't cut yourself of course). A piece of curtain rod or pipe will work just as well, whatever you have available. Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 13:22
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    and you will learn quickly why the F**-chord is called that way :)
    – Thomas
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 14:08

As Von Huffman says, that bar across is a finger - usually an index finger. One clue that it's not a capo would be in the B chord window - not many capos can go over only 5 strings! And stopping to put on a capo is usually done between songs, not between bars!

Since it appears that now is when you perhaps start to involve yourself with barre chords, it's worth a look at alternatives to the open chords you already know. Changing from one barre chord to another is often easier and more effective than sticking an open chord in the middle somewhere.

  • Using only barre chords also sounds more consistent.
    – user207421
    Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 0:26
  • @MarquisofLorne Only if you assume that the barre chord is the exact same octave and voicing as the open chord, and also assuming that you are not doing adjustments through your technique. Your assertion is correct only in a very small subset of scenarios, so I don't think it is very useful without the whole story, and ends up being misleading. Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 19:23
  • @VonHuffman - mixing open and barred chords is something most of us try to avoid. The sound is rather different, and the control over the whole chord isn't easy with open chords, which obviates their use in some strumming patterns. The voicings and positioning is somewhat secondary as a consideration.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 8:50

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