Guitar Capo Instructions for beginners
A capo is a way of changing the key signature quickly and
easily on a guitar. It is mainly used on steel string acoustic
guitars and electric rhythm guitars. I have never seen a capo
used professionally on a classical guitar although they
probably do exist. You should not need to use a capo on a
classic guitar because the correct method of learning classical
guitar should intrinsically make it redundant. i.e. You finger
and fret across the whole guitar so you should not be messing
with capos as it would confuse you.
Why use a Capo?
From the point of view of the beginner there
are only 2 reasons to use a guitar capo. The first one is
to play a song in a key you can sing in. If the range of
the vocal is too low then you can easily transpose the key
up with the capo so that you can sing in a key good for
your singing voice. The second reason to use a capo is
very bad and you should not do it! You can use a capo to
make a song easier to play and to avoid hard chords that
you have not learnt yet. So you could put a capo on the
third fret to avoid playing G, C & F chords. You would
use the E, A & B7 chords with the capo on the third
fret. Why is this so bad? Because you should be learning
and playing all of the chords. By avoiding certain harder
chords you are basically limiting your guitar playing from
I have allowed the occasional student to use a capo very
early on when they are really struggling with the bar chords
but in general you should be looking to play the guitar with
the full range on the fretboard.
Guitar Capo Instructions
The correct way to use a capo is to place it midway between
the 2 frets that you are clamping on. If you go too close to
the upper one you risk the strings going badly out of tune.
They will go slightly out of tune anyway and you will need to
check the tuning when you use a capo. If you place the capo
close to the lower fret than you may get buzzing stringss
because the clamp is not holding down the strings tight enough.
The capo should be at right angles to the guitar neck. I have
heard of guitarists who place the capo at an angle but I can
think of no musical reason for this.
What is the best type of guitar capo?
The picture here shows the best type of capo I
have come across. It has a simple spring clamp and a one
hand operation. When you are not using it you can clamp it
to the guitar head and use it as a fashion accesory. This
type of spring capo is very robust and will takes years of
use and abuse. When you initially buy one the spring is
nearly always a bit too strong. Spend a week carrying it
around and use it as an executive exercise toy for your
hand. Just keep using the spring action to wear in the
capo before you use it. If you are like me you always have
plectrums and strings in my pockets. Just add your capo to
your on board kit.
Using a pencil as a capo.
I saw this on wikipedia and though it was a
brilliant idea when you are in an emergency and you
vocalist just will not sing until its in the right key. It
consists of a pencil and a couple of elastic bands. I
think the picture shows how it works quite well.
Download a Complete Capo Transition
Chart Here (pdf File Acrobat
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