What Is A CAPO?
Richard the guitar teacher here.
You might have wondered what that strange looking thing is on someones guitar. Either on the neck of the guitar or on the head stock (this is where some people keep the capo when not in used).
These devices are called a Capo.
*"a clamp fastened across all the strings of a fretted musical instrument to raise their tuning by a chosen amount"
let's have a look at what they are used for.
lets look at the guitar on its own for a minute. At the top of the guitar neck we have what we call the NUT. This is normally made out of plastic, but can be made out of many different materials like ebony, ivory, even cow bone.
You will find many stringed instruments, will have a NUT at the head of the neck, as this will helps lead the strings on to the neck.
When we play all the open strings on the guitar we get, from the lowest (6th) string to the thinnest (1st), E,A,D,G,B,E, you can think of it as Eddie Ate Dynamite Good By Eddie.
Now, lets talk a little about chords. When we play barre chord, like this G major barre chord.
We can see we are using are index finger, for all intents and purposes to replace the NUT of the guitar. This is great, it means with a little bit of practice we can play are open chords, up and down the neck.
If this is feels like it is getting ahead of you, don't worry we are getting to the CAPO part soon.
so basically a CAPO is replacing the NUT.
As I said earlier, when you play the open strings with out a Capo you get, E,A,D,G,B,E, this is what we call standard tuning.
So when you play your open E Major chord, you hear a E Major chord. This changes when you apply a capo onto the guitar.
let's say you put the Capo on the 3rd fret, this is now moving the guitar Nut, up 3 frets.
Now when you play your open E Major shape, you are not going to hear an E major chord, but instead a G major chord.
This is because your open strings have now changed from, E,A,D,G,B,E tuning, to G,C,F,Bb,D,G tuning.
This can be a lot of fun as the guitar will now sound different, but using the same chord shapes you already know really well. A lot of song writers will you use a Capo this way to freshen up their song ideas, but still using chords shapes they already know.
Where to buy.
You can buy many different types of capo, but really there are all the same. What you will be paying for, is the quality of the product, what they are made out of, and what brand they are.
All guitar capos are really one size fits all.
You can get them from your local music shop, or on the internet. Price wise they are around £20. Sometimes if you have brought a starter guitar kit, you might have one within the package.
Hang on a minute , you said the capo is one size fits all?
ok there is an exception to this. So as we found out earlier, placing a capo on the guitar changes the tuning of the guitar, from standard tuning, to where ever you a placed the capo on the neck.
Over the years short cut 3-string capos have become popular. These capos only cover 3 strings, whether you choose the top 3 strings or the lower 3 stings, is up to you.
This gives you more oppatunatys for different alternative tunings, which are a lot of fun to play with. If you are feeling adventurous give one a go, and see what unique sounds you can come up with.
Having a capo is not 100 percent necessary, but they are good to have in your gig bag.
Some people would recommend this, but I would not recommend this so much. Capos can be a great quick fix when it comes to transposing a song into a different key.
But unless you are a beginner guitar player, and having real trouble with playing different chords, I would not recommend this, unless an open string sound is what you are after.
Enjoy the world of CAPOs
Til next time