Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Guitar Capo: Your New Best Friend

Let me introduce you to the guitar’s little friend: the capo. It’s that little contraption that wraps around the neck of the guitar and allows you to raise the pitch of the strings. This allows you to play songs using different fingerings. Or, use more Open Chords.

While most of us think of the capo’s use in folk, country or church style music played on acoustic guitars. Believe it or not, the use of capos can be traced back to the 17th century.  It’s a great little tool that isn’t just used to make things “easier.” Some people I’ve come across are very anti-capo, believing it’s a tool to cheat and avoid playing the harder, dreaded, barre chords. Or thinking that guitar students can’t become a well rounded player if they use such a tool. To that I say...Bahhhhh! It’s a tool. We use it to make cool sounds. Period.
 photo Capo_zps8825a20d.jpg

Some people  use capos to play the same four chords in different places on the neck, transposing to different keys, all while playing the same G C D and Em shapes. Others use it to add texture to a song that has electric guitar crunch taking up all the room in the sonic spectrum. You would be surprised what you can do with this little thing.   

There are all types of capos going back to the 70’s beginning with the cloth elastic wraparound types. Today Kyser Capos are among the most popular. Some new capos allow you to choose which strings you would like to affect. Heck, in a pinch I’ve even used a pencil and some rubberbands like this. Just don’t poke your eye out with that thing...

If you never used one, give it a try. If you haven’t used one in a while it’s worth revisiting to put a different spin on an old song. Try using two capos at different places on the neck and on different strings for some great altered tunings. You can also check out one of my favorites, the Kyser shortcut capo, which is a small capo only covering 3 strings.  Awesome, instant open tuning without touching the tuners. Here’s a site dedicated to just that.  

Most of all, have fun with it!!!   


The Big Dogs in the World of Capos
Kyser Capos - Would you believe they sell almost a million capos a year?!  

Shubb Capo - These guys sell full and partial capos for guitar, dobro and banjo.

Songs that use a Capo
Oasis - Wonderwall
Bob Seger - Night moves, Mainstreet
Dave Matthews - Stay or Leave
The Beatles - Penny Lane
Coldplay - Fix You
Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence
Fleetwood Mac - Never Going Back
Fleetwood Mac - Landslide
Old Crow Medicine show - Wagon Wheel
Bob Dylan - Don't Think Twice (It's Alright)
Bob Dylan - Blowin' In The Wind
James Taylor - Fire And Rain
James Taylor - Something In The Way She Moves
James Taylor - Carolina In My Mind
George Harrison - My Sweet Lord
Eagles - Hotel California [capo 7]
John Mayer - You Body Is A Wonderland
Beatles - Here Comes the Sun
Harry Chapin - Cat's In the Cradle
Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter

Songs Rearranged for a Capo
Message in a Bottle - I made this video to teach how to play this Police classic the easy way.

Dream On - Aerosmith made easy.

If you’ve got some favorite capo songs, or videos, please share them! 

Matt Brechbiel has been teaching students of all ages and levels to play the guitar for over 20 years. Book a online guitar lesson with him or visit him at

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