I am using Ultimate Guitar to get chords to play songs. I have noticed that most songs start out by giving you a background, tuning, and where to put the capo. Afterwards, it gives you the chords and lyrics, looking something like this:


In the song, it tells me to use a standard tuning, capo on the second fret, and play a C, Em, G, D, and F chord thoughout the song. My question is, should I be playing the shapes of those chords when I play, or should I be transposing the chords and playing the chord that, with a capo on the second fret, would sound like a C or a G or the others mentioned above. I'm very confused, as most of the songs I want to learn use capos and have barre chords which I, at the moment, can't do unless playing a chord that sounds like it.

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    As a side note, Hey There Delilah is a great beginner song as-is so you might want to try learning it directly rather than approximating with the chords. It's not much more difficult to play without the capo using the D-F#m-A-C-G shapes either, which has the benefit of avoiding the barring. – user28 Apr 12 '15 at 19:42
  • F#m without barring? – Tim Apr 12 '15 at 20:20
  • @Tim The song does not involve full chords, you never hold more than 3 notes at a time (and never pluck more than two) except for the final stroke. – user28 Apr 12 '15 at 22:02
  • @MatthewRead - I was going just from the screenshot - which said 'you can just strum the chords'. Didn't realise. – Tim Apr 13 '15 at 5:57

You simply need to play the chord shapes as indicated in the tab. They will sound higher with the capo. So, e.g., with the capo on the 2nd fret the C shape you play will sound like a D chord, and this is exactly the purpose of the capo. The Em chord will sound like F#m, which would normally (i.e. without capo) be played as a barre chord. Note that often it's hard to completely avoid barre chords, even when using a capo.

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    Agreed. There will be the odd amateur tab that uses the chord names based on the actual notes (so say "D" for the "C" shape with a capo on the 2nd fret), but the majority use the chord names to refer to the shapes. – user28 Apr 12 '15 at 19:34

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