Original chords are: E C#m B A
But they have it tabbed as: G Em D C

What do I tune my guitar to instead of standard?

Capo 9 is a bit difficult...

  • 4
    Just curious - why do you want to do this?
    – Strawberry
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 16:37
  • Gillian Welch / David Rawlings do this a surprising amount, and point it out by saying, "look at all this guitar I'm not using!"
    – brnlmrry
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 6:43
  • I found an example - youtu.be/WR1BUVFToSE?t=1027 - in this video you can see that Dave is playing with capo 9 (G shapes), while Gillian is using capo 4 (C shapes, as described in @Tim's answer below).
    – brnlmrry
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 6:55
  • For Future reference, click the link to find a very useful chart that allows you to determine where to put a capo to play any key using any set of Chord Shapes. music.stackexchange.com/a/30935/16897 Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 8:10
  • Would you consider buying a 7-string guitar? Capo 3 works there. Otherwise, you're buying big strings or playing up high.
    – J...
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 18:49

2 Answers 2


John's is the only answer - if you need to stick to G. I guess for the shape(s).

Other options are available. With capo on fret 4, there's C Am G F.

Capo on fret 2, there's D Bm A G.

Both of which coincidentally contain the 'G shape'. You ask about 'using G shapes', which will be practically impossible in any key - after all, there's a minor shape in there! But I'm sure that's not exactly what you meant. But with the last two options, at least you get to play a 'G shape' chord !

  • 1
    Good point, I thought of other options too but decided not to mention them. I figured it was either a TAB chart he wants to play or no barre chords allowed. It could even be played in E for that matter. Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 17:25
  • @JohnBelzaguy - yes, you could get away with E, E6 (open), B7 and A, although E6 is not a perfect sub for C#m.
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 17:33
  • 1
    For that matter, as mentioned in a recent question about a B chord with no barre, both chords can be played without a barre, B as x2444x and C#m as x4665x, fingered 1234 and 1243 respectively. My money is on the OP wanting to play a specific TAB arrangement. Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 17:47
  • Yes, there are a couple of voicings/fingerings for those chords. B as xx4442, C#m as x466x0, although there are those out there who must have root positions!
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 18:13

The only other option I can think of if you want to play the song in E with G shapes is to tune down 3 semitones to C#, F#, B, E, G#, C# from low to high. That is a pretty large interval to detune so unless you use heavy strings the strings would probably be too loose and floppy.

  • Yes. Not only will the strings be very floppy, the chords themselves will sound a bit questionable – Specifically the low E-G♯ in the G-shape E-chord is dangerously close to the lower interval limit. For a piece with only acoustic guitar and vocals it's probably ok, but for anything else I'd have my doubts. Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 14:52
  • @leftaroundabout I thought of the low interval limit myself so I lowered my nylon string to hear what it would sound like and it actually sounded ok, pretty beefy. The low 3rd interval is a potential problem with the G shape though. Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 17:16
  • 1
    @leftaroundabout - there's always the option of using heavier strings, but that won't work for just this one song. Time to buy another guitar! Or - learn to play barre chords, maybe?
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 19:19
  • I know of an artist who tunes a Strat-style guitar BEADF#B, and with careful attention to string tension and_much_ larger nut slots, it plays like any other guitar. It's the setup and having another guitar that make it an issue; I want a guitar like that but don't have a spare ATM. But yeah, much much much easier to just learn barre chords. Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 23:31
  • @DaveJacoby so he turned it into a baritone guitar, interesting, wonder how it plays. Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 1:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.