I know the title sounds crazy, so hear me out. I'm beginning to look at how I would play The Wolves and the Ravens by Rogue Valley. Here are three key links:

I can't comprehend how both this guy with no capo and Chris Koza (the lead guitarist of the band) with a capo could have achieved the same pitch.

Could it be that Chris Koza is using an alternate tuning, or am I missing something here? I am very new to guitar.

  • Click this link for a detailed explanation of using a capo to change the chord shape set to play in various keys (music.stackexchange.com/a/30935/16897) Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 18:25
  • The open pitch of the strings changes with a capo. Fretted fingerings don't change pitch (other than slightly due to how the capo wrecks intonation). If you put a capo on the fifth fret, a scale you play at the 10th fret is still the same, more or less. The capo's tension makes the notes slightly sharp, that's all. So if one player doesn't have any open string voicings to play, they don't need the capo.
    – Kaz
    Commented Dec 23, 2022 at 19:07

2 Answers 2


The pitch of the strings change when you put a capo. What you missed is that on the guitar you have different ways and positions for executing the same chord.

So, while the guy with no capo does a C chord in the basic position that everybody learns at first, Koza does the same C chord in a different position in fact his hand has a different shape, the one that you would use to do a G chord without a capo.

This works because if you think about it, if you put the capo on 5th fret, the pitch of every single string is 5 semitones higher. This means that the "G shape" chord with a capo on fret 5 is actually 5 semitones higher than G, that is, a C.

If the two chords sound the same pitch to your ear, it could be that Koza is not strumming the 1st string and that could make that G shape chord have exactly same notes as the open C without capo:

G shape C chord without string 1 with capo on fret 5 open C chord without capo

  • Right, I follow all that, but the thing is, I would expect what Koza is playing to sound higher in pitch....but it doesn't. I would expect a higher-pitched C chord. But it sounds the same to my ears! Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 2:48
  • If Koza is not strumming the 1st string, the chord could actually have exactly same notes (and pitch) as the open position C without capo (high note would be the E on string 2 fret 5, same E as the open string 1 without capo). Edited my answer to better explain the chord pitch.
    – Xandru
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 8:01
  • I understand!!! Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 14:29

Album - definitely in key C - guitar using open chord.

Live recording - using capo on fret 5, and playing C chord with an open G shape.

Tutorial - uses open C, rooting on 5th string.

All standard tuning - A=440Hz.

In fact, the pitch is changing - for some of the chords' notes. Some will remain the same notes, in the same octave, but will be played on other strings. For example, open C, top note E. That same E is played on 2nd string 'open' when the capo is on 5th fret.

There are different places and shapes available onguitar for playing the same name chords. They produce different voicings, the choices made by the player at the time. Sometimes it's for the sound, sometimes for the ease or effectiveness of playing. By mixing up shapes and positions, it will vary what each chord sounds like, without actually changing the chord itself. One of the joys of guitar.

  • I'm sorry, I'm still a little too new to this to know what you mean by "C chord with an open G shape," as opposed to "open C". I googled both but the results were not clear to me, as it just brought up many many chords related to those terms. Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 16:30
  • 1
    There are several different shapes to play chords. Using some open strings - hence 'open chords' - the C shape used on the album is self-explanatory. The 'G shape' is from an open G shape chord, but played from 5th fret. Now it sounds like (because it's become) a C chord.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 16:49
  • 1
    Basically with a capo on the first fret, the shape of an open G chord (now displaced one fret up the neck) will sound a G# chord (aka Ab). If the capo/displacement is moved to the fifth fret, it will sound a C chord (but it will not sound quite the same as an open C chord because only some of the tones are played in the same octave, while other tones may be repeated in different octaves). These alternate combinations of chord tones are known as "voicings". Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 19:16

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