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Comment by Edward Sparks on November 6, 2009 at 6:50am
Found this on the Gibson site...interesting: Edward

Gibson Tone Tips #36: The Capo—A Hand Where You Need It
Dave Hunter | 11.03.2009

A basic, unassuming accessory that used to be part of every “beginners’” guitar kit, the capo is an underappreciated, but extremely useful, piece of equipment that can come to the rescue of experienced players and newbees alike. Just in case this is new territory for you, let’s first cover the basics of what a capo is (capo pros, please be patient!), then we’ll explore a few tips and tricks.

Put simply, a capo is a movable clamp that attaches to the neck of the guitar to bar the strings at the desired fret, essentially shortening the playing length of all strings simultaneously. Players use capos for a variety of reasons. They are extremely useful for quickly changing the key of a song without having to transpose the chords that you might already be familiar with in a different key, if, for example, you’re backing a singer who decides on the spur of the moment to change the key of a tune to better suit his or her vocal range. A capo also provides an excellent means of achieving certain desirable open-string positions for riffs or chords that need to be played higher up the neck to fit a particular song. Plenty of experienced players use capos for a wide range of advanced techniques, but a capo is a handy tool for the beginner, too, and makes it possible to play a great many songs in a wide range of keys with knowledge of only a few basic chords. So you only know your first-position G, C, D and Em so far, but want to play a song along with other musicians who do it in the key of A major? No problem—slap on a capo at the second fret, and away you go.

Capos are indispensable to a wide range of more advanced playing styles. Players of country styles that want to access low, open-string runs in a range of keys to produce the characteristic bass-runs (often called the “G run”) of these genres will use capos to great effect. Also, a capo is an essential accessory for many blues slide players who use open tunings, enabling them to reset the neck, if you will, to suit the open and barred positions required by different songs without totally retuning the guitar. Likewise, many fingerstyle players and proponents of DADGAD and other alternate tunings would find life getting dull pretty fast without a capo.

A wide variety of capos are available. The most affordable takes the form of an elastic strap that wraps around the neck and clips in place to keep a firm rubber pad with steel backing in place behind the fret. These do the job adequately, and might be fine for the occasional capo user, but they can be awkward to position and reposition. More elaborate models, made by companies such as Kyser and Shubb, are made out of steel or die cast aluminum, with springs or thumb screws to provide the string-clamping tension. If you find a capo useful—and many players do—it’s probably worth investing in one of a decent quality, because these are usually easier to put on and take off the guitar, and frequently provide more even string tension and better tuning accuracy as well.

Once you’ve got your hands on a capo, you need to know how to use it. For most guitars, a capo works best when positioned fairly snugly up beside the fret at which you want to stop the strings (note, a capo is never placed right on top of the fret, but just behind it, on the nut-side of the desired fret). This positioning keeps the strings more secure on most guitars, and if your guitar was in tune before you positioned the capo—and its intonation is good—it should still be relatively in tune with the capo on. If your fingerboard has the higher frets that are popular with some players today (for example, Dunlop 6105s and the like), you might need to take extra care in positioning the capo, and perhaps move it further back from the fret, to avoid pulling the strings out of tune. Also, try to avoid tugging strings sideways, or generally altering the spacing between each string, when you position the capo, as this will both pull you out of tune, and create an awkward feel on the fingerboard. You can always re-tune once your capo is on, and sometimes this is necessary, but ideally you can clamp the thing on and off again with no need for readjustment, and no interruption to the flow of your performance.

Standard capos can be used to execute a few “tricks”, too. Consider that you perhaps want to play some higher-position chords in the key of E, but it would be nice to retain a deep low-E in the bass. Clamp a Kyser-style capo on at the 7th fret to hold down the five higher strings only (A through high-E), leaving low-E open. Now barring the D, G and B strings at the 9th fret gives you an easy E major chord with a big low-E in the bass, along with access to all kinds of interesting riffs that would be difficult to achieve without the capo in place. Or, tune your guitar to open-G (D-G-D-G-B-D, low to high), then place the capo on the 7th fret, again leaving the lowest string un-clamped, and you’ve got a cool, unusual positioning for an alternate D-major tuning with a resonant low-D at the bottom. Play around with your own tunings and positions, and you’ll come up with plenty of others of your own. Happy clamping!
Comment by Downtown Freddy Brown on November 5, 2009 at 6:18am
For those that are interested. I have a capo chart I made up a couple of years ago that shows where to place the capo to get what keys on one side (there are a few different charts offered by others that do this too) BUT if the chart says to capo 3 and play in C for Eb. Now what chord do you play to get say Ab or Bb7? Well my chart has another chart on the back that shows you what chords to play too. I print and laminate them for local friends and students ($9.95 CDN). They are not massed produced and I have never really sold them by mail. I can't take credit cards but maybe I should. Everyone who sees the chart thinks it is really helpful. If interested please contact me. Thanks
Comment by Easthouse Blues on October 23, 2009 at 3:38pm
Hi Walt,
Mine hasn't arrived yet, either, but it is online (main page!)

Comment by Walt Pilcher on October 23, 2009 at 3:23pm
Yes, and that's actually what the Fmaj7 is - basically the full F except for the 6th string first fret, so I mute or don't play the 6th string. I can do similar tricks to get F#m, G#m, C#m, Gm, and some B's, though I haven't practiced those much yet, except the B's. My December issue hasn't arrived, so I look forward to the article. Thanks.
Comment by Easthouse Blues on October 23, 2009 at 3:07pm
Hi Walt,

Have you thought about partial chords rather than barre chords? My index finger doesn't work too well, either, and I find I can get chords like F much easier with partial chords (good article in Dec issue of Acoustic Guitar)

Comment by Walt Pilcher on October 23, 2009 at 10:41am
Hello, Donna! I've tried the capo and moving up the neck does make for better angles, but I've had to conclude that at least for now I should not worry about barre chords. My left index finger is a little misshapen and just won't work properly for the barres, even when I use the right hand to place all the fingers correctly as a teacher might do for me - they just won't stay. For the F, what I am doing is in fact the Fmaj7 but with my index finger holding down the 1st & 2d strings first fret, so all I'm missing is the 6th string first fret, which I don't play or sometimes mute with my thumb. It's nice to know I'm doing something a good teacher recommends! Thanks!
Comment by Donna Zitzelberger on October 23, 2009 at 7:48am
Hi Walt - You have mentioned your struggles with barres before and I can't remember if I recommended a capo. Have you tried using a capo and playing it up the fretboard, say about capo 5? It's easier to make the bar chords when your arm is closer to your body. Maybe this will help.

Another thought - if you can't get the barre, and want to play songs in the key of C. Try an Fmaj7 and don't play the first string - or mute it. Or substitute at an F9 (sometimes called an F2) -- play an Fmaj7 and have your pinky play the G note (first string, 3rd fret), this works out well for a lot of songs.


Comment by Walt Pilcher on October 22, 2009 at 8:35pm
Well put, Clark!

I think I've got the F almost under control, so for me now it's the Bm that acts the way you described. But I had a breakthrough with B7 tonight at my music circle - I actually got it 5 out of 7 times in a song we were doing (Wayfaring Stranger). That's one of those "You can't get there from here" chords for me right now. Practice, practice!
Comment by Clark Ellison on October 22, 2009 at 5:19pm
Is see a lot of people stating they did not or do not know the F chord. I know the F chord several ways but that does not mean it acknowledges me when it comes around. I think it is one of those special chords that desires a lot of attention before it will present itself properly. Some days it says hi and some days it just ignores my attempts and makes fun of me.
Comment by Newbie Dean on October 12, 2009 at 8:49am
I find myself doing the same thing. Whenever I go to hear my coach play i a local establishment, I find myself "strumming" on my leg/stomach/etc to try to pick up the strum patterns. I do the same thing when I'm driving in the car with my stereo on. While listening to songs I'm familiar with, I strum on the side of my leg and think about the chard changes. there are a lot of little things you can do without your git to "pracice".........Dean

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