How To Use A Guitar Capo
Using A Guitar Capo – Instructional Video
A guitar capo is an accessory that clamps down across the neck of a guitar, and depending on the notes and sound you are looking to achieve by using a guitar capo you will need to select the appropriate fret. By bridging Capos across the neck of the guitar you are shortening the length of the strings all at the same time, creating (sort of) a new head (where the tuning pegs are). The “open” strings are now played higher in pitch allowing you to strum your open strings in a different pitch then the standard tune without having to tune up or down. Learn more about music theory for a better understanding of this concept.
So, how much higher does the pitch increase when your guitar capo is applied? It’s a half step for each fret. If you place the capo at the third fret (for example) the open E strings become Gs (three half steps higher in pitch than the open E). Each string increases in pitch equally — B becomes D; G becomes Bb; D becomes F; and A becomes C. Everything below the Capo is played as if the Capo was the head of the neck where the tuning pegs are. All strings above the capo are muffled and are not meant to be played. However, creativity rules the roost in music… maybe you can find some way to bend the “rules” and create some grunge heavy riff of muffled strings and distortion? Ok, just a thought!
NOTE: When applying a capo sometimes the strings can go out of tune. Check your tuning before playing after you remove the capo and make sure your shits not out of tune. It’s a quick and easy fix, and a good habit to get into. You can find an online guitar tuner here I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have removed my capo, and proceeded to play a guitar that was out of tune. Not cool, especially when you are learning. You might be playing something right, but it sounds totally off because your guitar is out of tune.
Capos come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Some are made of elastic and fabric, some have springs and threaded bolts, while others work like tension clamps (I use this kind). To set it up right, you gotta place it just before the fret (toward the head / tuning pegs), not directly over the metal fret bar or it will just muffle. Really, it’s like applying a bar chord… it’s the same as running your finger across all 6 strings… you are just using the capo instead. Get it?
TIP: There are many more advantages of using a capo, you can search for those as I am not getting too deep into other methods and uses for one. But here’s one for the road, a little tip for you to fall asleep thinking about. When you apply a capo, the frets get closer together as you go up the neck, so as a result of this, playing the acoustic guitar with a capo requires less stretching for the hand opposite of the one picking/strumming, making some songs, scales, chords, and climbs easier to play.
This is some beginner stuff, hopefully I touched on the basics of how to use a guitar capo and helped you understand how one can be applied to your practices. For advanced capo training you can google the shit out of it and find more information then you could ever retain (at least that’s my experience).
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