Why are capo's used so much?

Telepi

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Sincere question. I'm not in our church band, but the worship minister capo's most songs at either the third or fifth fret. It makes the songs almost impossible for most of us mere humans to sing along with. In fact, he looks a bit strained too with using a falsetto to shouting style. My thought is why not tune down to Eb or keep it open, so more of the congregation can sing? I get some songs are in certain keys, but higher up the fret board seems to make them harder to sing. Thanks.
 

GoldieLocks

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Lazy guitar OWNERS use capo's "So Much". and because their callouses haven't ever developed to play F, Ab, and Eb chords.

Capos are great if you're reaching for certain tonal things -- but they shouldn't necessarily be used because of EASE and REGURGITATION of known chord shapes. I've been playing for 40 years ---- and i've NEVER used a capo on stage (or anywhere for that matter. I do own 2 of them though). But they are useful at times. You can even build a style around them (Albert Collins with his Telecaster. The Ice Man)

But PLEASE: do not be dumb enough to just throw them on and assume you will be in tune with the piano or keyboard or... You'll probably will be out by a few degrees.

I've had a few acoustic guitar players insert their Capos on the wrong frets and proceed to embarrass the entire band by playing in the wrong key... they usually attempt to blame the band. No!
 

Danjabellza

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Depends on the player and the guitar. I had a worship leader who played a vintage Gibson with some potential structural damage, but it sounded amazing. The issue was string tension with standard tuning was too much for the bridge. So he played it tuned 1-1.5 steps down then capo’d at the third fret to bring it up to pitch with less tension. Otherwise it’s so they can practice songs in say the same key, then use the capo to transpose them to different keys for the service.
 

mRtINY

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Often, certain songs sound better with cowboy chords... and most people have a too-limited vocal range.
 

budglo

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Our WL uses one so he can play in the key of G in most cases. Sheer laziness really. Playing an acoustic in D , C or E sounds pretty awesome . I used to use one when I played in Ab or Bb , but less these days as I don’t care for capos on electrics.
 

mexicanyella

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I used to play electric guitar in a band with an acoustic-electric guy, and he was usually capoed up to achieve different voicings of the same chord, for better blending and tonal richness. Sometimes we’d both capo, but almost never on the same fret and usually with me lower than him because it just seemed to sound better that way. Some of the time he was sneaking up on mandolin territory.

He really liked movable variations of the C and F shape, but played lots of other shapes too. He had the capo pretty well figured out.

Having to decipher and keep up with his logic definitely gave me a kick in the transposition ability!
 

thesamhill

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The immediate advice would be just ask him.

3rd is pretty standard if you need to get the keys of Bb or Eb, and there was some "common wisdom" floating around when I played for a summer camp that Eb was the key that the highest percentage of people can sing in. No idea if that's true but he might have heard that and is trying to play in Eb for the good of the group, and Eb s not super easy to play in on acoustic.

5th is a little odd because the cowboy chord forms in the 5th are keys that are pretty easy to play open.

But just to point out, the capo doesn't make you sing higher. It just voices the guitar higher. If you want to sing in D, you can sing the same notes playing open D chords or C chords with capo 2, or G chords capo 7. It's all the same key of D.

Also, I've played acoustic for decades and use capos all the time. I've got a song in Twanger Central that I fingerpick using two capos at the same time so maybe I'm extra lazy, lol.. Feel free to give a listen and post me a video if you can get the same sound playing bar chords. Id definitely be impressed to see that.
 

joe_cpwe

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All has to do with the singers range, and if they are trying to match recordings of modern worship songs. Most are too high for me.
I'm a baritone but a guitar player first, for decades, before become an occasional worship leader/singer. So, I'm mostly doing songs in G and E and at first position. I can easily grab a E w/G# in the bass while playing and singing.
I don't expect full time leaders with moderate guitar skills to do that. They can use a capo if it makes it easier to sing and play if need be.
However, most importantly, they should be mindful that they keep songs in congregational singing ranges.

Also, I'm in a band and the lead singer uses a capo all the time, sounds good and he's used to it. Hasn't ever stopped me from playing the same songs w/out one.
 

Lineville65

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Sometimes for the singer range. Sometimes with me playing the open chord (C as an example) while the acoustic player plays G capo’d at 5th or vice versa to give the sound some extra depth. Sometimes I capo my electric or my acoustic as I just think the timbre of the open chord just sounds better. Can’t say either of us lose any sleep over what anyone thinks of it. It’s music. Hope I didn’t miss something in Deuteronomy.
 

Telepi

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Thanks everyone for the great comments and direct insights. I wanted to get actual experienced opinions and didn't want to ask our WL and sound critical. He and the others in the band gel really well with each other and do a great job. I'm going to try to match the keys in my voice range and not try to stretch to his. I think that's where I struggle is watching him and trying to follow along.
 




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