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  #1  
Old 03-21-2017, 04:55 PM
Riverwolf Riverwolf is offline
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Default I don't understand "why" to use a capo

I understand the "how" and I own several nice ones.
I know that some song lessons call for a capo and some of those songs do sound better with a capo.
But I have never understood why else to use one.
I do not understand how ones voice can be in a specific key.
I watch everyone from Johnny Cash to Neil Young playing open position chords with no capo.
I have been playing 4+ years and just don't get this part at all.

So enlighten me you guitar music wizards.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:03 PM
djh1765 djh1765 is offline
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If I did not use a capo I would not be able to play in many of the keys I do.

Example:
Fret A open no capo, capo 1st fret I get a Bb., capo 2nd fret B, capo 3rd fret got a C and etc.

Same in fretting a D chord.

Love the capo.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:06 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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I've been playing for over 50 years and use a capo often, sometimes as high as the seventh fret.

The simple reason is that it lends a different flavor to the tonality of the instrument. It's analogous to the difference between people who sing as basses, baritones, altos, or sopranos. They can all sing in different keys, but sound much different. The human voice would be far less attractive if there weren't different ranges to sing in and guitar pieces would be far less interesting if they were all played out of open position.

A good example would be to play "Here Comes The Sun" in open position. It's possible, but it doesn't promote the same energy or feeling as when capoed.

There are those that cite capo use in transposing to alternate keys without the need to re-learn chord positions or fingering, but that would be a secondary use to me. I sometimes do it for more complex flatpicking that I've learned in certain open chord positions. In that case it's often a short cut to capo up for a quick adjustment for a different key to sing in.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:07 PM
Cuki79 Cuki79 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riverwolf View Post
I do not understand how ones voice can be in a specific key.
I used a lot of capo when I had to find the best Key for the female singer of my former band. Also if we had both to sing, we had to find a compromise.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:09 PM
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min7b5 min7b5 is offline
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For me it's about being able to get voicings of chords that I would otherwise physically be able to in that key. Especially up the neck. An example would be my tune "Blues For Freida" http://acousticguitar.com/eric-skye-winter-namm-2016/ I wrote that tune in the key of G minor, but playing it as if it is E minor allows me to get voicings I could not be able get in G minor without capo. Hope that makes sense.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:11 PM
Kerbie Kerbie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by min7b5 View Post
For me it's about being able to get voicings of chords that I would otherwise physically be able to in that key. Especially up the neck. An example would be my tune "Blues For Freida" http://acousticguitar.com/eric-skye-winter-namm-2016/ I wrote that tune in the key of G minor, but playing it as if it is E minor allows me to get voicings I could not be able get in G minor without capo. Hope that makes sense.
+1... what Eric said so well.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:17 PM
kydave kydave is offline
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If I'd rather sing a song in A, but prefer to play it out of a G formation, a capo on fret 2 is the logical thing to do.



Here Johnny Cash is playing a C form, but because he is capo'd on fret 2, he is actually singing the song in D (apparently).



Same thing here with Neil Young. He obviously wanted to sing this song (apparently) in the key of F, but wanted to use a D formation.



I hope this helps with the OP's question.

Last edited by kydave; 03-21-2017 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:29 PM
SimonFL SimonFL is offline
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There's three reasons I use one. One is to get different chord voicings. The second is basically the same as the first. I'll use a capo to allow me to play open chords in keys like Eb.

The last reason is easy key changes for singing. I play at my church and depending on who's leading there are song songs we might go up either a half or whole step. It's much easier to capo than to learn the chords for two different keys.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:33 PM
Rmz76 Rmz76 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riverwolf View Post
I understand the "how" and I own several nice ones.
I know that some song lessons call for a capo and some of those songs do sound better with a capo.
But I have never understood why else to use one.
I do not understand how ones voice can be in a specific key.
I watch everyone from Johnny Cash to Neil Young playing open position chords with no capo.
I have been playing 4+ years and just don't get this part at all.

So enlighten me you guitar music wizards.
Let's say a song is written in the key of G but you find you voice is struggling with the low-notes and find you have plenty of head room on the high notes. The answer is to change/transpose the key of the song up to A. You could use the open chord shapes to achieve this or play barre chords without a capo, but it's just easier to clamp a capo on the 2nd fret and play it as if you were in the open position... Or you could sing it as written and do your best with the weak low notes. Just helps you find what works best for you voice and allows you to get there without much hassle.

It's not about a voice being limited to a specific key, but about finding the optimal key for your voice for the specific song. The optimal key is usually going to be the key where you can get the most clarity and projection on the lowest and highest notes in the song.








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Last edited by Rmz76; 03-21-2017 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:39 PM
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Lotsa reasons, one of which is to make certain open strings available in various keys. Another is texture. If you play a song in G and I'm jamming with you, I'll probably capo 5 and play it in D. This yields a much more interesting sound than both playing in first position G.

Last edited by Guest4562; 03-21-2017 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:45 PM
paulzoom paulzoom is offline
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If you want to limit your song choice, that's your right. Try playing "here comes the sun" without a capo.

I don't understand why you wouldn't want to use a capo.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:48 PM
paulzoom paulzoom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riverwolf View Post
I watch everyone from Johnny Cash to Neil Young playing open position chords with no capo.
I have been playing 4+ years and just don't get this part at all.

So enlighten me you guitar music wizards.
Oh really?? You should ask Neil.

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Old 03-21-2017, 05:50 PM
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murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
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You never caught Django Reinhardt or Les Paul using a capo ...
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:52 PM
Riverwolf Riverwolf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulzoom View Post
I don't understand why you wouldn't want to use a capo.
Never said that I don't want to.
I said I don't understand how or when to use one.
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:53 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riverwolf View Post
I understand the "how" and I own several nice ones.
I know that some song lessons call for a capo and some of those songs do sound better with a capo.
But I have never understood why else to use one.
I do not understand how ones voice can be in a specific key.
I watch everyone from Johnny Cash to Neil Young playing open position chords with no capo.
I have been playing 4+ years and just don't get this part at all.

So enlighten me you guitar music wizards.
I don't understand what you mean by "song lessons".

"I do not understand how ones voice can be in a specific key."

Many of us -who play blues, bluegrass or other styles prefer to play 1st position shapes, and a capo enables us to do so playing in a key that best suits our voice/arrangement.

Hope that helps.
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