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I am needing this for the song wanted dead or alive as the original key is D however, for the musical Rock of Ages they play the song in C. Is there any chance that I could put a capo on to keep the same shapes as the original key?

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    Never threaten your capo unless you know you can follow through ;-) – danmcb Jan 21 at 22:33
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Short answer is 10th fret. Capo on the 10th fret makes everything rather tight and you may find that uncomfortable. Some other options are detailed below.

If you insist on using the same chord shapes as in the key of D while playing in the key of C - you have two choices. 1) Put a capo on the 10th fret or 2) Tune your guitar a whole step flat and play the chords from the key of D in the 1st position (open chords) with no capo. By tuning a whole step flat (each string one whole step lower) when you play a D chord shape it will sound like a C chord.

You could also transpose the chords from D to C to play the song in the key of C with no capo. To learn how to easily transpose from one key to another read the answers to THIS question on Stack Exchange Music.

Also, if you don't like the chords you get by transposing from D to C you can try using the chart below to determine a capo/chord set combination that will allow you to use a number of other chord sets in transposing from D to C using a capo. Or read the answers to THIS question on Stack Exchange Music.

Capo Key Chart

From the chart above you can see that you can play in the key of C using the chords from the key of G by placing the Capo on the 5th fret or using the chords from the key of A by placing the Capo on the 3rd fret. Of course you will need to first transpose the chords from D to G to play in C with Capo on 5th fret or transpose from D to A if you put the capo on the 3rd fret and play the chords from A to play chords that sound as if they are in the key of C.

The chart will allow you to determine all the capo positions and corresponding chord shapes to play in the key of C using a capo to convert the chord shapes to those of a different key. If you start at the bottom of column 1 at the C you can follow the C in a diagonal line up to the last column. Wherever you find C you follow that row to the yellow column for the Chord Shapes you would use with the capo on the fret indicated at the top of the column to play in the key of C using chords from a different key.

Good luck and have fun playing around with all the options.

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The best option is likely to re-learn the song either in C as-sounds without capo, or with capo 3.

Capo 3 would allow you to play it with quite similar voicing and fingering to how you learned it in D, because it'll be mostly just one string down. The match is even closer if you tune the G string one half step down, so that the open strings are then G-C-F-A-D-G. Notice that the lower five strings in this tuning are like high five strings in standard tuning dropped one whole step down, i.e. adapting the song is then basically a matter of shifting everything one string down.
Tuning one string a half-step down is no problem even live, so this might be a good option. But also try if it's even necessary – possibly the song is even easier to play with capo 3 but no re-tuning.

Actually tuning down the whole guitar a whole step could also be an option, but it has some obvious downsides. Capo 10 is almost certainly not feasible at all, both sound- and playing-wise.

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In principle but it would be on the 10th fret and hence would not leave you much space in which to play.

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The only way that's possible is to capo it on fret 10. But then it'll be almost impossible to get your fingers into the frets, and it'll sound rather strange.

Two other more sensible possibilities. Learn the chords from a different key, and capo accordingly. Tune the guitar down a whole tone and play what you know. That will work fine, but may mess up any other songs played in the same sitting.

Why can't it stay as you originally play it?

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  • I wrote the long version of your answer before I saw any other answers. I said all the same things but with more detail on how to accomplish the alternatives. Apparently I have too much time on my hands lol. – Rockin Cowboy Jan 21 at 22:36

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