Forums » Gillian Welch and David Rawlings "Guitar Tabs"

Theory Nerd Question

    • 112 posts
    April 11, 2012 5:18 AM PDT

    I've been watching how Dave often capos differently from Gillian (or whomever he is playing with), and then plays out of a different key. For instance, he seems to be at 6 or 7 in the Harper Simon video I posted the other day, playing out of C, maybe? And Harper is playing out of G, maybe? I know that G is 7 steps up from C, but this would be reversed (C being only 5 steps up from G, and he's clearly further up than that). Neither my ear nor my eye for fingering is that good, so my observations could be way off.


    Anyway, can one of you guitar experts (or all of you), help me understand what he's doing if he's playing in a different key? I sort of get harmonic minors, but I don't really know how to use them in accompaniment.


    After I try to get my head around this with guitar, then I want to learn to apply it to banjo!

    • 2 posts
    April 16, 2012 6:52 AM PDT
    Dave is playing capo 7 and a C-chord, and that equals a G-chord uncapoed. If you take a C-chord, you'll have your index finger on the C-note. Then slide the C-chord up 2 frets, then your indexfinger will be on a D-note, and if you continue up the neck till your indexfinger is on the 8th fret, you're on the G-note and a G-chord (if you have the capo on 7th).
    So he plays it in the same key, I guess he just uses capo at 7 because he likes the sound up there
    • 112 posts
    April 16, 2012 7:03 AM PDT
    Thanks! I get confused on my guitar theory; I don't intuitively understand it. I learned chord shapes on the piano.
    • Moderator
    • 132 posts
    October 31, 2012 10:48 AM PDT
    I've noticed he likes to position his capo so he can play in the key of 'G' ie G scale.
    • 9 posts
    December 19, 2012 11:26 PM PST

    Dave will play capo'd up to get the different voicings of the same chords as Gil is playing often with easier fingering for his scale runs and fills.


    It also gives it more of a mandolin sound by being higher up the neck, which blends nicely with the rich full bass tone of Gil's guitar.