Capos are often overlooked in favor of other types of accessories. They are useful tools that can improve your guitar playing.
Capos are a great way to access tonal variations without having to physically change the tuning of the guitar. This, in turn, can allow for more creativity.
Not convinced? Take a look at our article below. We cover all of the wonderful benefits of using a capo when playing guitar.
We’re so adamant that you’ll become a capo enthusiast, we’ve even included a short list of the best capos available to buy today.
Check it out!
What Is A Capo?
A capo is a device that attaches to the neck of a guitar. It works to shorten the length of the strings which, in turn, raises the pitch of the strings.
Most of the time, capos are usually used by placing them across all of the strings on the guitar. However, it is possible to use a capo on a portion of the strings too.
A capo works in a similar way to the nut of the guitar. The nut is the thin piece of material (generally plastic, metal, or bone)that sits on the headstock end of the guitar. All of the strings pass over the nut, which has grooves to ensure that the strings are placed correctly along the fretboard.
A capo can be understood as a kind of moveable nut. A capo can be fixed to any fret along the fretboard below the neck joint.
However, rather than ensuring the correct placement of the strings, capos work to change the pitch of the sound produced by the strings.
Capos work to change the pitch of open strings, without having to adjust the tuning keys. It is worth mentioning that capos don’t work to change the pitch of the notes that are unfretted.
Rather, they work to change the pitch of the unfretted strings, which will also affect the timbre of the strings.
There are different styles of capos available today. Generally speaking, different styles of capos may affix to the guitar neck in different ways.
However, most fasten to the neck using a fabric strap, spring, or screw and have a bar (coated in rubber) that holds down the strings.
Recently, the partial capo has become more popular. Partial capos don’t cover the whole neck of the guitar.
Rather, it can be applied to a portion of the strings, rather than all of them. This produces an incredible amount of versatility as it allows for a huge number of tonal variations.
Capos are very popular accessories. They are used a lot in folk, blues, flamenco, and traditional Irish guitar music.
They are also quite common in rock and pop songs. For instance, Noel Gallagher, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Johnny Mar, and many other icons, have used capos to produce wonderful pieces of music.
Benefits Of Using A Capo
Now that you understand exactly how a capo works, we can get into the good stuff. Capos are incredibly useful pieces of equipment that will truly change the way you play.
Check out our favorite benefits of using a capo below.
Capos aid in producing a different and interesting tone. To see this, follow the steps below:
1. Play a normal E chord.
2. Now, play the E chord as a C with the capo placed on the fourth fret.
3. Notice the difference. You should hear that the second chord was much lighter and sweeter, and also provided you with more room for embellishments.
As such, capos aid in making you a more versatile guitar player. There is nothing we love more than playing around with our capo to see exactly what sweet and wonderful sounds we can produce with it!
Obviously, capos are great when you want to alter the key of the instrument. However, this is especially useful if you plan on playing guitar alongside another musician, such as a singer.
Using a capo, you can alter the key of the song quickly and efficiently to work better with the singer’s tone. If you’re interested in songwriting, this is a truly excellent benefit of capos!
Both songwriting and working with other musicians are two of the most wonderful things you can do after learning to play the guitar properly – so get over the capo snobbery ASAP!
Songwriting And Composition
That moves us nicely onto the next benefit. Often, budding musicians are nervous or hesitant about songwriting and composition, even if they are desperate to give it a go.
If this sounds like a feeling you’re familiar with, don’t worry! We understand. It can sometimes feel as though you need to be the best musician in the world to be able to create anything noteworthy.
However, we promise you, this definitely is not the case. Music students can, and absolutely should, start composing their own music whenever they want to!
The most difficult aspect of composition is the first step – but did you know that you can use a capo to help you get the ball rolling?
Well, you can! We love taking a song that we know how to play well and messing around with the capo. Once you have made the sound a little different using the capo, you can alter the strum pattern.
Then, you will likely feel inspired to add your own melodies or embellishments. Soon enough, you’ll have a song that sounds absolutely nothing like the one you started with. Cool, eh?
You don’t even have to begin with a song if you haven’t yet mastered one. You can get the same result by playing around with your favorite chord progressions.
Be sure to give this method a go – it works every time!
Believe it or not, using a capo can make practicing the guitar easier. Using a capo also works to make chords feel a little lighter and easier to play.
In turn, this will allow you to play for longer. If you’re a newbie, and you’re plagued by painful fingers and hand cramps, but you’re desperate to continue playing, you need to purchase a capo.
Additionally, as described above, using a capo can provide more room for creativity.
As such, if you’re just starting to get to grips with the basic skills, and you want to learn how to play with flair, this is a great method.
Building your Barre Chords
Using a capo is a great way to work on your Barre Chords. Rather than struggling down there on Fret 1 with that troublesome F Chord, it’s much easier to use a capo say on Fret 2 or 3 and start with a Bm chord shape. The capo takes a lot of the pressure off the barre finger and just makes it all so much easier.
Then when you have mastered the chord shape there you can move the Capo down the fretboard and eventually take it off altogether and work on the barre shape in the open position, for B Minor that would be on Fret 2.
Using a capo definitely makes us better guitarists. Always remember, whilst learning a new instrument is hard, you don’t need to make it more difficult than necessary!
Using a capo gives you the opportunity to play sequences that would normally be impossible. As such, with a capo, you can create super interesting and experimental riffs!
Don’t be fooled by so-called guitar snobs that using a capo is ‘cheating’ or an ‘easy way out’. Capos are devices that can make you a better musician.
Well, you wouldn’t say that Johnny Marr was a bad musician for using a capo, would you? Some of the most recognizable and un riffs produced by The Smiths are only possible to play when using a capo.
If you’re not a Smiths fan, how about Tracy Chapman? Her classic song, Fast Car, is not possible to play without using a capo – and it is an incredible song!
Easy On The Fingers
Whether you’re a total beginner or a well-seasoned guitarist, you will know the pain of not being able to play anymore due to discomfort in your fingertips.
Well, using a capo will make things lighter on your fingers!
In fact, if you use a capo pretty much anywhere above the first fret, you will feel a notable difference in the pressure required to hold the string down.
This is also good news if you are trying to become a faster guitarist. You will be able to fully focus on technique and use the smallest amount of pressure necessary.
Requires One Hand
If you’re a keen guitarist who loves a good jam sesh, you likely forget just how much work your left hand does. If you use a capo, you give your left hand a well-deserved break!
This is a particularly useful benefit if you find yourself playing hours of guitar with little rest. Be sure to use a capo to give your fretting hand a rest from time to time!
This one is a bit of a bonus benefit, but it is definitely worth mentioning!
Additionally, when using a capo, you are inherently practicing your transposition skills.
After using a capo consistently for a little while, you will become much better at transposing! It also forces you to become incredibly familiar with the fretboard, which will make you a much better player.
As such, if you think that you need to become better at transposing, but you learn best by doing, using a capo is an excellent way of progressing your studies!
Best Capos To Make You A Better Guitarist
Now that you’re completely convinced of the benefits of using a capo, you’re likely wondering where you can purchase one. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Check out our favorite capos below.
This capo, whilst a tiny bit more expensive than others, really is superior. It is designed for use on 6-string electric and acoustic guitars.
It is super easy to operate and includes Tri-Action Technology that really takes the pressure off your fingers.
D’Addario is also a trusted brand with an excellent reputation – they have been making top-quality guitar accessories for over 20 years!
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, this one is your best bet. It is just a fraction of the price of many capos on the market today, and yet, it performs incredibly!
It is also super easy to use, is quick to move, and it ensures that there is no fret buzz! Considering the price, this piece of kit is super well-built and durable! What more could you want?
Finally, if you are a fan of Fender, or maybe you already have a Fender guitar, then you might want a matching capo.
Well, this is the one for you! This Fender capo is incredibly well-built and it will work well for 6-string electric guitars with radiused fretboards.
As a bonus, this capo is very well designed – it looks super cool on your guitar!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have some burning guitar-related questions – don’t panic! We’re not done yet. This FAQ section should clear up any concerns or queries that you still have. Take a look below!
Are Capos Cheating?
If anyone tells you that capos are cheating, or that so-called ‘real guitarists’ don’t use them, tell them to (politely) bog off!
Capos are excellent pieces of equipment that give guitarists the opportunity to truly master their craft and take their playing to the next level!
Do Capos Harm The Guitar?
Using a capo should not harm the guitar at all. However, if you notice that your guitar has some marks or scratches after using a capo, it is likely that the capo is of poor quality or is broken.
Generally speaking, high-quality capos are coated with rubber or other materials that prevent them from causing any kind of damage to your guitar.
If you’re in need of a new capo, check out our three favorite capos above. Whether you have an electric or acoustic model, there will be something for you.
Are Capos Just For Beginners?
Not at all.
Capos do make for excellent accessories for beginners. They can make learning the guitar much easier and more fun. However, that isn’t to say that they don’t have their benefits for advanced guitarists too.
As discussed above, using a capo can allow for more creativity and provide the player with the opportunity to play far more complex and advanced music.
So, there we have it! Capos are truly wonderful guitar accessories that will make the practice of guitarists of all skill levels easier and more enjoyable.
We hope that this article has helped you overcome your capo-related hesitancy! Let’s face it, if you’ve made it this far down the page, chances are that you’re interested in buying a capo.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and buy yourself a capo now! We promise you, you will not regret it.