Do You Use a Capo?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by P Thought, Apr 30, 2019.

  1. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    If you do, when, why and how do you use it?

    I somehow started off on the wrong foot with capos, and in my 40 years' fumbling around teaching myself to play guitar I've owned several, but used them very little.

    I don't think this is because I've thought of them as "cheaters", though I've heard that expressed by others. Too many great players use them; I don't think either Marty Stuart or Kenny Vaughan needs to cheat. I don't think I really know where or when to put my capos to good use.

    I'd like to hear from players who use them, and from players who don't, with explanations of their purpose and methods.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  2. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Yes. Whenever I want open/cowboy chords in keys other than, say, Em, Am, G, A, C, or D.

    EDIT: Guess I should add. I like open chords, including power/5ths.
     
  3. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    For me:

    1. When I'm singing and need to move the key around and/or maintain the key with easier chord voicings.
    2. When I'm playing one or two other guitars and need a different texture, while maintaining the ability to use chords with open strings or use open drone strings in key.

    I think that about covers it.
     
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  4. Pualee

    Pualee Tele-Meister

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    I think they are most useful when you want to play 'open chords' as mentioned above, but specifically need to use some combination of hammer on and pull off that you normally use in the 'easy keys'.

    I can play those 'cowboy chords' as barre chords easy enough, but no longer have a free finger for the embellishments.
     
  5. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    That's pretty much it. Or any time I learn/write something involving open strings, that I want to transpose to a different key, where the open notes would become fretted notes that would be hilariously impractical to reach.
     
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  6. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    cap.jpg
     
  7. Luis Mendo

    Luis Mendo TDPRI Member

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    I use them rarely.

    What I don't like about capos is that, at least in my experiencce, they mess with the tuning. Put a capo on the third fret and the pitch doesn't exactly change by three half-steps. The exact amount of pitch shifting depends on the tension you apply to the capo, and it doesn't affect to all strings equally. So you have to detune the strings with the capo off, trial and error, until they come out with the right tuning when you put the capo.
     
  8. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Right. And try as I may, my finger will never sound as good as a nut.
     
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  9. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, unapologetically.

    I use it when I need it, and don’t really have a Form or Fashion or a thought process as to why.
     
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  10. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    No no no no. Adjust the capo. Don't retune with a capo on. Adjust/reapply the capo, until it's right.

    EDIT: Make sure to put it on evenly. You can clamp it a little cockedeyed to compensate. But make sure it clamps down on the strings at the same time.
     
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  11. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    Same here. If I need it, I use it.
     
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  12. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Holic

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    I play with a lot of bluegrass and fiddle tune players and it is a necessity for them. As an example they pick in C but the song is in D so there is one on the second fret.

    I never used one enough to feel comfortable, it always feels like I'm limiting myself. And with my buddies using them I stay without to give the song a fuller sound. Transposing on the fly can be a challenge too.

    I've been to bluegrass jams where 6 or more pickers have one at the same place.
     
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  13. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I'm sorry - what is the theory against simply applying the capo and then fine-tuning as necessary?
     
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  14. Bergy

    Bergy Tele-Meister

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    A capo above the 4th fret starts to make an acoustic guitar sound like a different instrument to my ears, sorta like a mandolin or something. That can be a nice effect.

    Like others have said, I often use a capo to move cowboy chords around. Some bluegrass musicians will play almost every song using G/C/D form cowboy chords and adjust with a capo for different keys.

    I also might use a capo when I am in an open tuning and need to change keys.

    If you are trying to figure out someone’s vocal range for a tune it can be helpful to use a capo. It makes it really easy for a vocalist to visualize how far the key center is moving by watching how far the capo gets moved.

    I don’t often use em on electrics, but I wouldn’t hesitate to. My playing style on an electric calls for a capo a lot less often.
     
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  15. SolidSteak

    SolidSteak Friend of Leo's

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    Either for a particular song that uses a capo, or if I just want to change things up when I'm strumming around.
     
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  16. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Yes all the time,since my band's singer always sang in funny keys there was no other way to open chord nirvana.
     
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  17. ale.istotle

    ale.istotle Tele-Meister

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    I use them to match song key/fingerings and to learn challenging fingerings in an easier place on the fretboard before going back to open strings. I had a spring-loaded style for years and it pulled the strings sharp despite my best efforts. Moved to traditional adjustable clamp type and you can really dial it in.
     
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  18. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Way out of tune after you take it off. Tune up, put the capo on right, and there's less to fix after you take it off. Maybe not a big deal, I guess. Just personal preference. @Luis Mendo stated this was a reason he didn't use the capo very often. I'm saying that with a little adjustment, there's less hassle.
     
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  19. Flaneur

    Flaneur Friend of Leo's

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    When I'm playing slide, it makes key changes quicker. There isn't an audience in the world that wants to wait for me to retune, from G to A, or from D to E, when I can simply deploy a capo behind the second fret...….

    It's easier on the strings, too.

    I've seen Dave Rawlings throw a capo on his Epiphone, mid-song, to play a solo. If it's good enough for him, etc......
     
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  20. muswell_hillbilly

    muswell_hillbilly Tele-Meister

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    I do when I play acoustic on many of the contemporary country songs we play, for a couple of reasons:

    1. Original artist used one, and to best match the sound, capo the same way.
    2. When female lead vocalist wants to shift the key up on a song otherwise played with open position chords.

    As for capo model, a guitarist friend of mine turned me on to this product family:

    https://www.g7th.com/

    and I thinks it's great! Best capo I've ever used (haven't tried the latest model, use the Performance 2).
     
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