December 12, 2023

Capo 1

A capo is a device used for shortening the strings, and hence raising the pitch, of a stringed instrument such as a guitar, mandolin or banjo. What a capo does, in effect, is to move the position of the nut of the guitar to shorten the length of the guitar neck and strings and therefore raise their pitch.

Capos are used to change the key and pitch of the open strings of a guitar without having to adjust the strings with the tuning keys. It should be noted that the capo is placed as close to the fret as possible; some practitioners recommend placing the modern clamp-style capos directly on the fret, rather than behind it.

Clamping a capo on the fingerboard of your guitar will let you instantly change the key of a song without having to learn new chords. This will come in handy if you accompany a singer whose vocal range is better suited for another key. For example, a capo installed at the second fret on a guitar in standard E A D G B E  tuning would then have an open tuning of Gb, B, E, A, Db and Gb.

Because of the different techniques and chord voicings available in different keys, the same piece may sound very different played in D or played in C with a capo at the second fret (at the same actual pitch). Additionally, the timbre of the strings changes as the scale length is shortened, suggesting other short-scaled stringed instruments such as the mandolin. Therefore the use of a capo is as much a matter of artistic expression as of technical expediency.

Using a capo increases your musical language exponentially in a matter of seconds and brings forth an entirely new world of possibilities:


1. Quick release capo

Use a quick-release capo to change keys quickly between songs to accompany different singers while retaining the same voicing.

These capos do not have the rigidity or the accuracy of a clamping style capo but if you want to make fast, fluid changes throughout your set then one of these babies might be just what you need.

The G7th Performance Capo is the first capo to use a wrap spring clutch in its design, which allows the capo to be effortlessly attached to the neck at any desired pressure simply by squeezing it closed by hand, as if playing a bar chord. The capo is then simply released by pressing a switch on the side of the capo.

2. Clamping capo

This type fits from the side of the neck and is more time consuming to install but there is no margin for error with the rigidity, pressure and precision of a screw down clamp style capo and these can also be set up for capo’d tunings that leave some strings open.

3. Pencil and Band.…just in case you out in the woods  without your capo but strictly one for the hobo’s, man; its the pencil -elastic band combo!

Ride them Rails!

4. Partial Modified Capo

The partial capo (also known as a cut capo or short cut capo) is a regular six string acoustic guitar capo that has been “cut” or altered to allow it to clamp down only on certain strings while leaving other strings open or unclamped.

Typically, partial or cut capos clamp down on the A, D, and G strings on a regular-tuned six-string, which results in a DADGAD-style alternate tuning.

Many guitarist place a standard, spring-loaded capo backwards on the guitar, so the shorter side of the capo (normally providing pressure on the back of the neck) clamps the inner strings.

The picture above shows a capo from Third Hand.

Or if you want to capo specific strings only try using the REAGAN BANJO 5TH STRING CAPO a small brass block with a thumb screw attaches directly to the string, NOT the neck. Clamp it to a string above the nut when not in use. Capo comes with 2 thumbscrews, one brass, one nylon for your choice of weight and tone.

Dominic Frasca is known for his customized ten-string prepared guitar with single string “mini-capos” as well as sticks and levers attached to the guitar to create percussive sounds and effects.


Steinberger build guitar with built-in capo! Check it out!

So thats about it for today – you have no excuses now not to eclipse the great Adriann Legg.


Jake Edwards

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