What Is A Capo?

If you are familiar with the guitar, you would have heard of a capo before now. However, you might be unsure of just how it can change up to or improve your playing.

What Is A Capo

Along with different types of tuners, humidifiers, string winders, and more, a capo is a device that changes the way your guitar sounds.

Its name is derived from the Italian word for ‘head’ and clamps on the guitar neck to shorten the length of your strings.

This enables the pitch to be raised. It is fastened across the guitar strings and sometimes only used on some strings depending on the desired outcome.

In this article, we take a closer look at what a capo is and the advantages it can have on your guitar playing. Let’s jump in!

What Is A Capo?

A capo is an accessory you attach to your guitar and is used to shorten the string length which as a result, raises the pitch of the strings. The capo clamps down across the fingerboards at your chosen fret and this will act as a moveable nut.

How Do I Use The Capo?

To use the capo, you simply pop it on the fret you want to act like a nut, How you camp it on will depend on the design of the capo but the most commonly used capos called a trigger capo will spring to place a tension which stretches across all of the strings.

As an example, if you clamped the capo on the third fret, it would raise the pitch by three frets. This means if your guitar was tunedOpens in a new tab. to a standard pitch, you would now be in G, C, F, A#, D, G instead of E, A, D, G, B, E.

The main benefit of a capo is that you can play different songs in different keys with the same open chords. If you prefer not to use a capo, you will have to resort to barre chords or other voicings and this does not offer the same tone as an open chord.

Keeping with the third fret example, if you play an E major, you will now be playing a Gmajor and an A Minor chord would have turned into a C Minor.

However, you need to bear in mind that when you use a capo, you won’t be able to play any of the frets located at the back of the capo.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Capo?

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Capo

You Will Be Able To Play More Songs Using Fewer Chords

A capo means you can increase your song collection without needing to learn lots of new chords.

It will allow you to play open chords from the fret you choose to barre and this means even when you only know a few chords, a capo can help you expand your repertoire and easily play in a new key when you want to.

You Can Change The Key Of Any Song

That’s right, whichever song you choose to change key, you will be able to do so with a capo. This means if you are trying to play a song to match the singer’s vocal range, you will be able to do so with a capo.

For example, if the singer has a very deep baritone range and you want to cover it with a different singer who has a tenor range, you can switch up the key of your guitar instead of letting them struggle to change the key of their singing voice.

It Can Make Guitar Playing Much Easier

Playing guitar with a capo makes strumming the guitar a lot easiest as the distance between the frets is smaller and more manageable. This means you will also find it easier to move between different chords.

Muscle Fatigue Is Less

As we have already mentioned, a capo allows you to play open chord shapes further up the fingerboard and if we are not using one, we would have to play some difficult shapes which can cause muscle fatigue, a lot more than open chords do.

Before developing hand strength as a new player, a capo is perfect for practicing, as it can help lengthen sessions and increase productivity when learning.

It Can Reduce Finger Pain

Playing guitar with a capo can also reduce finger pain. This is a result of moving your fingers down the fretboard instead of playing high on the neck which can put extra pressure on the fingers and fingertips.

This pressure when reaching for higher up on the neck is because of the stretching required to play certain chords and melodies and since you won’t be stretching as far, you won’t have to press down as hard either to make the sound of each note.

This means a capo is great for new players who have not got finger calluses yet to play with comfort.

You’ll Experience A Brighter Sounds

You will be able to play much thinner-sounding and brighter sounds with a capo, depending on how high you choose to clamp the capo. If you place it high enough, you can scale your guitar down so it matched the pitch of a mandolin!

This can make an interesting texture to sounds if you pair it with another guitar player who is not using a capo and play the same song.

Some Songs Require A Capo

Some songs also cannot be played without a capo and if the original recording was done with a capo, it is sometimes impossible to recreate the sound without a capo!

Final Thoughts

We hope you have enjoyed reading about the use of a capo with a guitar and now understand what it is, how it is used, and how it can benefit your playing.

Not only does it change the sound and pitch of your playing, but for new players, it can be highly beneficial in reducing muscle fatigue and finger pain! Why not try one out yourself today!


Was this article helpful?


I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

Recent Posts