Sometimes when you want to learn a song, you’ll notice the tutorial or tabs indicate the use of something called a capo.
A capo is a guitar accessory that works as a substitute for your barre finger, allowing you to play barre chords and other figures with an open hand. However, maybe you don’t have one around, or yours broke, and good capos aren’t easy to come by.
Does this mean you always need a capo to play your favorite songs? Not at all! Today we bring you 15 songs you can play without a capo. Regardless of your age and taste, you will find a song (hopefully many songs) of your liking!
A quick note before getting to the songs: In some cases, the songs are transposed. What does this mean? Well, it means that the song is not in its original key; instead, it is tuned either up or down, usually by half a step or a full step, so you don’t have to use a capo.
Top 5 No Capo Guitar Songs
- Let Her Go – Passenger (Original Tuning Of Em)
- Good 4 U – Olivia Rodrigo (Original Tuning Of F#M)
- Bad Habits – Ed Sheeran (Original Tuning Of Bm)
- Perfect – Ed Sheeran (Tuned Down To G From G#)
- Malibu – Miley Cyrus (Tuned Down To G From G#)
Let Her Go – Passenger (original tuning of Em)
A song that talks about the things and experiences that we let slip away, about what we don’t value in our daily lives until we lose it until we don’t have it. That’s when we miss it.
The tendency of human beings to focus on what is NOT really important in life, to obsess with absurd or passing issues, while what is important passes before our eyes.
Good 4 U – Olivia Rodrigo (original tuning of F#m)
Due to the hints that the artist included in the lyrics of her song, many have speculated that it is another message directed towards her exboyfriend Joshua Bassett.
What is certain is that the also star of the High School Musical: The Series seems to be creating a whole repertoire to overcome her anger.
The chords for this TikTok sensation of a song are D. A E. B. C#. F#m. This is a great song to try power chords!
Bad Habits – Ed Sheeran (original tuning of Bm)
‘Bad Habits’ talks about the bad habits’ Ed Sheeran performed in the past, such as drinking too much, partying, and getting into trouble but now.
After a long hiatus that helped him reconsider many aspects of his life, he considers it best not to keep doing them.
The chords are Bm. Dmaj7 Gsus2. A. Em7. D. and F#m.
Perfect – Ed Sheeran (tuned down to G from G#)
Perfect has indisputably all the elements of a perfect love song: slow pace, a soft, mellow arrangement, a tender narrative, and real-life inspiration!
Cherry Seaborn is the woman who inspired Ed to write the lyrics to the song “Perfect” (among many others). They met when they were children, and years later, they met again.
If you want to play this song for your S/O, the chords are G. Em. C Bm. and D.
Malibu – Miley Cyrus (tuned down to G from G#)
Miley was so happy about her reconciliation with Liam Hemsworth that she decided to celebrate it by composing a song for her beloved: Malibu’.
Its romantic lyrics talk about the new stage in their relationship and how good she feels living with him in his house in Malibu.
The chords are Em. C. G. and Bm, here are the chords for you!
Give You What You Like – Avril Lavigne (tuned down to Em from Fm)
Used as the soundtrack in Babysitter’s Black Book. Give You What You Like talks about a toxic relationship where a girl is willing to let her partner have his way with her in the bedroom only to feel loved (but not really).
The chords are Em. G. Asus2. C. Bsus. Am. and D, here are the cords for you!
The One That Got Away – Katy Perry (original tuning of E)
This bittersweet song talks about a love that could have been perfect but never came to fruition.
During the video of that song, we can see the story of a love that ends because of a tragic accident, but in reality, this song is based on someone who is really alive: Josh Groban.
The chords for it are E. B. C#m and A. However, two of these chords are actually barre chords, and being a no capo song list, it’s reasonable that you would also want to avoid barre chords. The solution?
Try chord variants with open B and e strings, such as Bsus4 and C#m7! Here are the cords for you!
Rude – MAGIC! (tuned down either 1/2 step up or down from C#)
This summer hit tells the story of a couple madly in love, where the boy tries to convince the girl’s father to let him marry her. to which he refuses firmly.
Suppose you want to play it half a step up from its original key. The chords are G A D. and Bm. However, if you want to play it half a step-down, the chords would be F. G. C. and Am.
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift (original tuning of G)
The song is about when a girl breaks up for the first time with her guy because he says he needs space.
However, the guy comes back in a month saying he misses her and swears he will change; she tells him she hates him, but she loves him. But this time she tells him no, they will never get back together again.
For many, this song is about Jake Gyllenhaal is a no-brainer, as well as the song’s chords: G. C. D. Em.
Wonderwall – Oasis (tuned down from A to G)
The chords for this all-time classic are Em7, G, Dsus4, and A7sus4. A word of advice: because of how easy this song is. People often go to guitar stores to ‘try’ guitars only to play these chords over and over, making Wonderwall a banned song inside guitar stores.
So, next time you’re trying out a new guitar, don’t play Wonderwall unless you want to be kicked off the premises.
Mad World – Tears for Fears (tuned down to Em from Fm)
This song criticizes the whole society where a line of thought is imposed on its citizens without letting them think for themselves.
I would say that it is a protest song for those who have not yet woken up from the easy way of doing what they are told. You’ve probably heard this one in Glee Riverdale. among other series. You will need Em. A. G. and D to play it.
To play it as it would sound, try by tuning your guitar half a step up.
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd (original tuning of D)
Sweet Home Alabama is a frequent song nowadays both in meme and pop culture to reference the life in the Southern states. However, it wasn’t quite intended in the lighthearted or joking way it’s portrayed today.
The song was written in response to two Neil Young compositions. “Southern Man” and “Alabama,” both of which include the themes of racism and slavery in the southern United States. Regardless of its history, many love it today!
The chords for this anthem are G D. and C. Here are the cords!
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana (tuned down to E from F)
This hit-turned classic is surprisingly easy to play. It was the best approach of a rather jaded Kurt Cobain of critiquing his own audience, facing directly how he felt about people demanding more to consume and be entertained.
The chords for this song are E. A G. and C.
To achieve the original key without a capo, tune your guitar to F (half step up). Here are the song cords!
I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing – Aerosmith (original tuning of D)
This power ballad, which became the couples’ love song of choice in 1998. was featured in the movie Armageddon.
It is undoubtedly one of Aerosmith’s biggest hits, not to say the absolute first Curiously enough, Barbra Streisand is one of the inspirations of this love anthem. The chords for the song are D. A Bm. Em. and G.
What’s Up – 4 Non-Blondes (tuned down to G from A)
As many musicians say, repetition legitimizes.
And certainly, nothing feels more genuine yet repetitive than playing the same three chords every 4 bars over and over. This is the reason why it’s still very much alive in pop culture. It was masterfully used in the series Sense8.
If you want to give it a try. the chords are G Am. and C. To achieve the original key, you can play A Bm, and D instead. Here are the cords!
Can You Play Songs Without A Capo?
A capo can be a neat way to freshen your guitar playing by making key changes easier and more accommodating for vocalists. But do you really need one?
The answer is a resounding no. In fact, there are quite a few reasons to avoid them. For instance, it could be said that a capo encourages lazy guitar playing, as you will get out of the habit of forming barre chords with your fingers.
It’s also a hassle to fix it in place on the relevant fret, which can take time if you are performing in front of an audience.
There are also plenty of ways to play songs without a capo. It might sound slightly different, but if you don’t mind altering the key, you’ll be able to recreate just about any piece of music without a capo.
All you need to do is use your fingers to create the relevant transposed chords. Or, if your main issue is the fact that you don’t have a capo, you could always try making your own with a pencil or a rubber band.
Some final tips:
There are tons of no capo guitar songs, especially those in the keys of G/Em. D/Bm and C/Am.
A capo is great to play in different keys down the fretboard. However, it becomes completely optional if you transpose your songs or practice your barre enough.
Most pop songs nowadays are easily transposable to a key that contains the least amount of barre chords.
Tuning your guitar a half step up or down might just be enough to get your favorite song in its original key.