Capo tricks

7breverse

First I want to dispel a myth. Somewhere along the way I was told that capos are for amateurs.

Maybe it was my elitist tendency, but I bought into the idea that a good guitarist doesn’t need a capo. That’s a bit like believing that nothing good comes without pain, which I don’t buy. In some cases, good begets more good and pain leads to more pain. But I digress.

As a songwriter I use a capo all the time, for example, to try out new keys without relearning chords. It’s also a quick way to try out a different timbre on your guitar. You can be sure your guitar will sound different when you put a capo way up on the 9th fret.

So use a capo. Experiment with it. It can save you time when searching for the right key for your song.

Do you know the trick where you put your capo on just the 5 highest strings? It raises the pitch of 5 strings while leaving the 6th unchanged, so it gets you to the same place as lowering the 6th string by the same amount.

For example, if a dropped D tuning is what you’re after, but it’s too low for your voice, put the capo on the 2nd fret, covering all but the low E string and you’ve got the equivalent of dropped D only a whole step higher.

Experiment by moving the capo up or down the neck. This works with most, but not all types of capos.

A similar technique can be achieved by making or buying capos that have little gaps in them so they only depress certain strings. This way you can expand the previous technique quite a bit. It’s similar to using altered tunings without actually tuning and retuning your guitar. It’s a shortcut. You can also buy partial capos to achieve the same thing. Read about partial capos and third hand capos.

I’ve seen David Wilcox and others using more than one capo at a time. This would allow you to depress say, all six strings at the second fret with a normal capo and then depress a few select strings at a higher fret with a partial capo. You end up with endless variations of non-standard tunings without using the tuning pegs.

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One Response to “Capo tricks”

  1. Erik Says:

    Unfortunately, it’s not really a shortcut to alternate tunings. Only the open strings will have a different pitch – the guitar is still in standard tuning. You can create some new and different sounding open chords, or chords that are usually difficult to finger without a capo might be easier with a partial capo. But anything that isn’t using an open string will be in standard tuning. For example, with the drop-D or “drop-E” capo, you cannot play those one-finger power chord riffs (similar to Neil Young, Nirvana, Soundgarden, etc) You really need to actually re-tune your guitar to play with an alternate tuning.

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