How To Use A Capo On The Guitar

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How to use a capo on the guitar, and why? It’s a question often asked by a lot of beginners. It’s actually really simple.  And you’ll find out there are actually interesting techniques you may not know.

Did I pick your interest? Let’s start with the basic use.

1. How to use a capo

Capo ShubbPlanning on buying a capo? Or having one already? Okay, let’s quickly view how this little thing works.

The capo presented on the left is the one I personally use. It’s very simple. The screw is here to ensure the perfect pressure is done to avoid any annoying buzz. I place it anywhere I want on the guitar neck, close to the fret for the same reason mentioned a bit earlier, then I lock the screw.

There are other capos available on the market. I don’t advise guitar capos with a strap, they are not really stable and can be a pain in the *** to adjust on the neck.

2. Why using a capo?

Basically, its number one role is to play the guitar on a different key by moving it along the guitar neck.

Capo on a guitarIt offers the guitarist tons of possibilities. You can move it along the fretboard and play a song you made on a different key but with the same chord patterns. Maybe you’ll like it more. Or you can adapt an existing song and play it elsewhere.

The fact is: it’s actually easier to use a capo than doing barre chords. That’s why they’re perfect for beginners. But whatever your level, it’s always useful. Do you sing? Place it on a different case and see if it matches more your voice when you play.

3. Capo Techniques

Let’s move on to some “capo techniques”.

The first one is simple. One word of warning before we begin though: it might not work on certain guitars or with some capos. Also, if you just started, don’t bother with these techniques, it is absolutely not necessary to know them at your level.

3.1. “The Cut-Capo”

This is a technique that will not work with the capo presented on the picture above. You will need a flat rubber band on the shorter side of your capo – the Kyser works very well. Or you can also buy a partial capo at a fair price on the market.

The idea here is to revert your capo – or use a partial one – and move it to any key you’d like to play. This will only press the inner strings – not the first and 6th-, the rest of them will remain capo-free. Start with the second or the seventh case and try to do some basic chords (E minor, G, D, etc.). Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?

3.2. The cut capo and the transpo-capo.

Take your partial capo or revert the Kyser. Place it close to any fret you like. Add a full capo a little bit lower – 2 semitones sounds very nice.

You can also buy a transpo-capo, which is two capo in one, but possibilities are reduced as the interval gap between them cannot be changed (2 intervals).

4. Other capos

The human brain is awesome. It’s unbelievable what you can create with a bit of imagination. Here’s a taste of what you can see on the market:

  •     Harmonic capo: an amazing product which allows you to play harmonics on open strings. And you can still play the notes traditionally while the capo is on the fretboard. Want to learn more? The inventor made two great tutorials explaining how to use it. The first one is available here.
  •     Glider capo: this one rolls on your fretboard, literally. You can easily move it from a position to another. Really helpful for key changes.
  •     Spider capo: Peter Parker would love it. This capo allows you to press each strings individually. It opens SO much tuning combinations. It’s almost a must-have for creative guitarists. A  bit too advanced for beginners though.

4 comments

  1. Music is my second love after photography and another way to express myself.
    I love going into “that” space all on my own.
    I got my first capo a couple of weeks ago.
    Its been fun learning how to play with it and the difference it makes.
    I think I might look into a Harmonic capo – just for fun.
    Lawrence

    1. Hi Lawrence, thanks for your comment!

      The harmonic capo would definitely open a new territory for you and you would have even more fun. 😉

    1. Hi Grace, yes, it’s not common to see those glider capos around but they’re quite handy if you’re looking to change key very fast.

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