Use of the Capo on the guitar

The use of the Capo on the guitar is used to change the key of the music that you are playing. Let’s say that you were playing a song with the chords E major, G sharp minor and A major and you wanted to raise the key up one tone ( 2 frets ) then by placing the capo at the 2nd fret and playing the same chords you would be playing F sharp major, A sharp minor and B major. This way you can change the key without having to play different chords, useful if you want to change the key quickly.

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Changing key for the singer

It is common to use a capo to change the key of the song to make it within the vocal range of the singer without having to change the chord fingering ( Transpose ).

Using the Capo on the guitar chart

Use of the Capo on the guitar chart

The chart above gives you the chord you would be playing with different capo positions, for example if you play an A major chord without a capo and then play the same chord with the capo at the second fret you would be playing a B major chord. If you played a C major chord without a capo and then played the same chord with the capo at the 4th fret you would be playing an E major chord etc.

Changing the sound

The sound of the guitar changes as you go higher and for some songs and instrumentals you may prefer a higher pitch. When the capo is placed high on the neck you can get a Banjo or Mandolin type sound.

Correct positioning of the Capo

Place the capo parallel to the fret and as close as possible to it, this will reduce buzzing and muted notes.

Use of the Capo

Tune guitar

Tune your guitar before using the capo. Some capo’s will exert excess pressure on the strings and cause them to go slightly sharp, but starting with a guitar in tune will minimise this.

Using a capo with other musicians

Use a capo to make the key more suitable for guitar playing when with other musicians or instrumentalists. When you are in this situation you can use the capo to make some key signature’s easier to play on the guitar. For example, B flat major key is a popular key for wind players; but includes very few open position chords for the guitar. Placing a capo on the first fret will solve this problem. This is because when they play Bb you can play an A major chord with the capo at the 1st fret and then you are playing a Bb major.

Using a Capo when two guitarists are playing together

Use of the Capo

If two guitarists are playing a song together, one can play the chords without a capo and the second guitarist would then play the same chords with a capo. For example, let’s say the song had the chords G major, C major and D major then the first guitarist could play chords normally and the second guitarist could play with the capo on the 2nd fret and play F major, Bb major and C major, this would be the same sound as G,C and D major as he is playing a tone higher on the neck than the first guitarist. The difference in sound between the two instruments create’s the “Fat chord” effect.

Additional benefits of using a Capo

One additional benefit of using a capo is that the frets get closer together as you go up the neck. This means it requires less stretching on the left hand. The strings are also easier to press down as the action ( string height above the fingerboard ) is much closer when using a capo.

Types of Capo’s

There are numerous capo’s available to buy and I would suggest getting a quick release one for ease of use.

Use of the capo
Quick release capo
Use of the capo
Quick release Shubb capo

For information on guitar styles see my website page: https://guitarlessonscamberley.co.uk/guitar-types-styles/