Revisiting the Capo – Part 1

Playing with others, as you’re probably heard me mention on more occasions than I can count, is not only a lot of fun but is also one of the best ways to learn and to improve on your playing. Did I mention that it’s a lot of fun?

It can also be a little frustrating, especially if everyone you jam with is a guitarist. More times than not you end up with a big guitar chorus, where everyone is strumming the same open position chords with close enough to the same strumming pattern that it’s almost overwhelming. Being able to bring something different to the table is not only good for the group, but it also allows you to hear your own playing a bit better.

This is one instance where using a capo can be helpful. If you’ve never heard of one or used one before, please take a minute to read an old (very old) Guitar Column of mine at Guitar Noise, called The Underappreciated Art of Using a Capo.

One thing I mention at the very end of this article can’t be stressed enough: “All this can be a little confusing when you’re just starting out.” It’s rare that people don’t do a lot of second guessing when trying to decide exactly where to place a capo, or why, for that matter. Having a reasonable working knowledge of the fretboard can help a lot.

So, too, can having a firm idea of what, exactly, you want to do in regard to placing your capo on the guitar. Being somewhat familiar with the concept of transposing (see Turning Notes Into Stone) will likewise give you a lot of guidance.

What we’ll be doing the rest of this month is looking at the thought process involved in capo use and we’ll employ a lot of examples so that, hopefully, by the time this month is out, you’ll be able to use your capo confidently. Or at least not be second guessing near as much as you might be doing currently!

So check in next time as we discuss the importance of being musically bi-lingual. No lie!


If you’ve got any questions, we at Guitar Noise are always happy to answer them. Just send any of your questions to David at [email protected] He (or another Guitar Noise contributor) may not answer immediately but he will definitely answer!

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