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Old 02-08-2006, 07:56 PM
kairo kairo is offline
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Default What does a Capo do?

Please bear with me as I trudge through the arduous task of teaching myself guitar.
I notice that alot of songs have capos, particularly at the second or third fret. I imagine this changes the key of the guitar, but how does it affect chording? I don't have a capo yet, or I imagine I'd be able to figure this out myself.
For instance, if you capo the second fret, your guitar now plays G,C,F,A#,D,G. So you have to learn an entire new set of chords each time you capo? I'm having enough trouble getting down 20 or 30 chords on an open guitar. I can't imagine learning those sets or being able to write music with capos in so many places. Which leads me to believe there's some trick behind it...is there?

Thanks!
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:11 PM
lcogginz lcogginz is offline
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All the capo does is behave as though you have moved the nut further up the neck--it sort of raises the key, if you will. For example, if you're trying to sing a song in C but it's too low, you can capo at the second fret, and still play the C fingering. It will be a higher key but you can keep the chord positions you already know. Some folks (purists) may regard them as a "cheat," in a way, but I like mine and it's a handy thing for me since I don't do barre chords too well.
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:12 PM
Gilliangirl Gilliangirl is offline
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Hi Kairo! Welcome to the forum!

No, don't fret (sorry, I couldn't resist). When you capo the guitar, you're changing the pitch, but you're still using the same chord shapes. For example, you might add a capo if you wanted to play using the same chords but the pitch was too low for your singing voice.
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:12 PM
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Your chord positions stay exactly the same...but you're correct: a capo moves the key signature up...your G chord becomes a G# chord, etc. However, you'd still play it with the same finger positions. Just think of a capo as shortening of the fretboard. Capos enable you to play a song using easier to fret chords (or less barring) in a different key signature, which might be more suitable for singing along with a song, or doing individual leads, etc. Some call capos "cheater bars," a rather unfair diss.

But it's a lot easier to play a song, for instance, in the key of D, rather than Eflat (D#). And you'd figure it out pretty fast--now as to which capo is "the best" you'll get 10 different opinions.
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kairo
Please bear with me as I trudge through the arduous task of teaching myself guitar.
I notice that alot of songs have capos, particularly at the second or third fret. I imagine this changes the key of the guitar, but how does it affect chording? I don't have a capo yet, or I imagine I'd be able to figure this out myself.
For instance, if you capo the second fret, your guitar now plays G,C,F,A#,D,G. So you have to learn an entire new set of chords each time you capo? I'm having enough trouble getting down 20 or 30 chords on an open guitar. I can't imagine learning those sets or being able to write music with capos in so many places. Which leads me to believe there's some trick behind it...is there?

Thanks!
The chords stay the same. In the music notation they will tell you "Capo 2nd Fret" but give you the same chord diagram for an A chord and call a "A" chord although technically it isn't anymore. Primarily capos are used to help singers accompany a guitar. I mostly use mine to clip a bag of potatoe chips. Keeps them nice and fresh.
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:14 PM
kairo kairo is offline
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Excellent, thank you everbody
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:19 PM
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If you play with a keyboard player, a capo can be your best friend as they seem to like to play in keys like Eb.

Go HERE for a visual on how it works.

The line across the top is the chord shape you make with your left hand. The numbers down the left side are the fret you put the capo on. The chords shown are the actual chord sounds you are making when you make the shape across the top. For example, playing the C chord shape with the capo on the first fret results in a chord that sounds like C sharp (C#) or D flat (Db). So if my keyboard playing friend wanted to play a song in the key of Db and I did not want to try to play chords like Db, Ab, F# etc. I would capo at 1 and play in C.
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Old 02-08-2006, 09:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kairo
...I imagine this changes the key of the guitar, but how does it affect chording? I don't have a capo yet, or I imagine I'd be able to figure this out myself.
Hi Kairo...
A capo is like a sliding version of the nut. Song is too low or too high, put the capo on the neck and play the same chord sheet. If it's still not right, just move it a fret or two at a time till you find the right key to play it in.
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Old 02-08-2006, 09:54 PM
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There are two ways to look at of how to use a capo. One is as mentioned before, the other is to change the voicing or inversion of chords of the same key. For example, playing in G in the open position or playing in G (capo 5th fret) using the D chord shape will change the voicing of the chord. This very helpful when two guitars are playing, creating a nice full harmonic sound.
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:04 AM
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Q. "What does a capo do?"

A. Mostly break people's kneecaps.
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Old 02-09-2006, 11:47 AM
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Default Partial CAPO's

Not to confuse the issue at all, but have you guys heard of "partial" capos; ones that only hold down 2-3 strings..?

Ive heard of some fingerstyle guys using those, along with different tunings...
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Old 02-09-2006, 12:13 PM
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Any C-clamp capo can do that. You just clamp it on, e.g., the lower four strings and leave the B and E open. Give surprising effects.

Another thing that a capo does is change the sound of the guitar, usually for the better. The increased weight at the neck improves wave reflection and so increases sustain and clarity.

That's why a capo on the second fret usually sound better than a bar with your index finger.
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Old 02-09-2006, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickI
Not to confuse the issue at all, but have you guys heard of "partial" capos..?
They only break a few fingers, rather than kneecaps.

Yup. There are lots of different kinds and you can cut 'em up in all kinds of perverted ways, as well!

Bob
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Old 02-09-2006, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Womack
They only break a few fingers, rather than kneecaps.

Yup. There are lots of different kinds and you can cut 'em up in all kinds of perverted ways, as well!

Bob


A partial capo is one who isn't quite "capo di tutti capi."

Anybody here read Italian mafia type books?

Anyway, back to the original thread.
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Old 02-09-2006, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickI
Not to confuse the issue at all, but have you guys heard of "partial" capos; ones that only hold down 2-3 strings..?

Ive heard of some fingerstyle guys using those, along with different tunings...
Hi Rick...
My traveling kit has two Esus (cut) capos, 2 standard full capos, One dropped D capo.

They are fun to explore with. A 3 string ''Esus'' application simulates DADGAD intervals, and flipped upside down in an ''A'' shape simulates Open G for slide work.

Some very creative and fun variations and voicings can arise from cut capos.

You can build one by inverting a Kyser capo, removing the short piece and trimming it so it covers the 3rd, 4th, 5th strings with a bit of overhand. Best to measure it at the 5th fret incase you want to move it up the neck and the spacing is wider at the 5th fret than at the 2nd fret.

Just trim the rubber piece with a sheetrock knife, Wire cutters, or sharp knife and replace it.

I build mine with a hacksaw from Shubb Dropped D capos. I know Shubb makes an Esus, but the Shubb Dropped D are a better fit when chopped into Esus (slightly different curvature).

I may trim the rubber piece on a Dropped D Shubb into a 4 string version that covers strings 2-5. At the 2nd fret this would simulate Double Dropped D.
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