TIPS 110 • Tips & Tricks when Using a Capo

Capos can be used by anyone from singer-songwriters who want to change keys (usually to find an appropriate singing range for each song) to people playing fingerstyle or flat-pick guitar instrumentals who want to find a new voice for their guitar. Of course you don’t need a capo to play in different keys, but a capo allows you to use first-position style chords or other voicings with open strings that may not otherwise be available. Open position chord shapes lend themselves well to fingerpicking where you’re adding ornaments / runs as in folk, blues, and bluegrass guitar, in a way that is endemic to those styles. From that standpoint, a capo may be a required piece of gear for playing certain styles of music. These days, most capos fall into one of two camps – those with a lever or clamp like Shubb, and spring-loaded capos like Kyser. The Shubb style ones give you a nice grip and have an adjustable thumbscrew for optimum pressure at different points on the neck. Kyser style capos are great for people who use the capo a lot and need to quickly change capo positions. (They can also clamp on your headstock for handy access.) In addition to touching on these two popular capo types, the video also covers some tips & tricks for getting a good sound with your capo – including flipping the capo over / upside down &/or using two capos – and avoiding the confusion that sometimes comes from what to call chords when you’re using a capo.