Musician's Corner

Capotasto

Come on, admit it. You’ve used one… that four letter word… capo. As a young lad banging my six-string, the thought of using a capo was horrifying. I mean, what self-respecting guitarist would; it’s a crutch! All its good for is a key change, right?!

Well, stroking strings, much like life, is complicated. In its essence, a capo changes the pitch of a string when played open… a key change really depends on what you pluck. The beauty is in the variation of chord structure you get.

Strum an open-E in standard tuning and you get E2 B2 E3 G#3 B3 E4. Put on a capo at the 4th fret, make an open C chord with your hand, and you have an E chord as G#2 E3 G#3 B3 E4 G#4… an E/G# chord specifically. The point is, same key but different tonality. Play them at the same time (umm, two guitars) and you get a richer sound.

There are many tricks with the capo. Drop D tuning… mmmmm, like it? Try this. Capo on the 2nd fret but only the first five strings, leave the low E un-capo’d. This creates a drop E tuning. Ahhh, yes, now you can use that drop effect in one of our favorite keys. Make an open D chord with your hand and wallah, E2 B2 E3 B3 E4 G#4… an E chord with a hanging third.

Here’s one the piano guy will like. Tune the entire guitar down a half-step. Put the capo on the first fret and you are back to standard tuning. Yea yea I know, the dots are off. But, you can take the capo off for a quick change between songs and are playing black keys.

So, go ahead and try one. Add another notch in your arsenal of sound.

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