So, I’m playing a song in the key of A. The chords are simple and fretted as a “g sus,” “C sus,” “Em,” and “D”. Now I know that I’m holding these shapes but the notes that’s actually being played for example, a G on the second fret would be an A. I have a singer trying to sing along but the song in the key of A using G chords is too low for her voice. I would like to change the key to maybe a C but which chords would I need to play to achieve it while playing G chords. I hope this all make sense lol. I appreciate all the knowledge and time into helping me. Thanks! (Edit) also where should I place the capo to play in the key of C switching it from the key of A using G chords. Again. Hope it makes sense, let me know what you think.
If you want to transpose from A to C, you put the capo on the 3rd fret and play the song like you would play it in A, only thinking that the nut i.e. the end of the fretboard is where the capo is. All chord shapes stay the same.
How you the number three is calculated: the pitch distance from A to C is three semitones. Here's how we transpose semitone by semitone
- A to A : 0 semitones, no capo
- A to A# : 1 semitone, capo on the 1st fret
- A to B : 2 semitones, capo on the 2nd fret
- A to C : 3 semitones, capo on the 3rd fret
- A to C# : 4 semitones, capo on the 4th fret
Looking at your comments I see that we need to explain some basic things.
How the guitar fretboard works
If you press down a string at any fret position, and you move the finger to the right by one fret, the note pitch is raised by one semitone, sometimes also called a half step.
For example, the pitch distance i.e. interval between C to C# (pronounced "C sharp") is one semitone.
If you move by two frets on the same string, the note is raised by two semitones, or two half steps, which is also called a whole tone or whole step.
For example, the interval between C and D is a whole tone.
How to transpose a chord
To transpose i.e. move a chord up, you transpose each of the notes by the same interval. For example, to raise the G major chord up by one semitone, you move all of its notes up by one semitone, and so you get a G# major chord.
Here is one possible fingering for G major:
Here the chord is raised by one semitone by simply raising every note by one semitone, i.e. one fret:
As you can see, the notes that were played with open strings in the original G major chord now have to be fingered on the first fret. This is of course not the only possible fingering and voicing for G# major. Consult a guitar chord chart for alternative fingerings. The purpose is to show how chords can be mechanically transposed on the guitar fretboard.
If we transpose all notes of the G major chord by two semitones i.e. two frets, we get an A major chord:
The chord shape is the same, but everything is just played two semitones higher. You probably already know easier fingerings for A major.
How to use a capo
If you want to use open position chord shapes, but without having to finger all strings, you can use a capo. For example, if you place the capo on the second fret, you can play as if playing an open G major, but it will produce a sounding A major chord.
@Brett In the open position, the root note for a G chord is on the 6th string 3rd fret, so if you slide it up two frets, the root note is A, which is your A chord (root note on the 5th fret, capo on the 2nd fret), and if you slide that up three more frets you come to the note C, which is your C chord (root note on the 8th fret). If you're using a capo, put it on the 5th fret.