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In today’s lesson we are talking capos! Everything from what they do and how they work, to styles of capos! So if you’ve ever asked yourself what is a capo? This lesson is for you!


What you will learn in today’s free-lesson:

  • What is a capo?
  • What does a capo do?
  • How does a capo work?
  • What’s the best type of Capo to use?
  • What does a capo do to a guitar?
  • What does a Capo do to chords?
  • 5 Famous songs that all use Capos!

Let’s dive in…

What Is A Capo? How does a capo work?

A Capo pronounced (Key-poh) directly from the dictionary is as stated.

Any of various devices for a guitar, lute, banjo, etc., that when clamped or screwed down across the strings at a given fret will raise each string a corresponding number of half tones.

The second definition is simply the nut of a guitar.
So in essence, when the Capo is attached above the normal nut, it will raise the string a 1/2 step.

What’s The Best Type Of Capo To Use?

The best type of Capo is one that clamps across the strings evenly. Most guitarists complain of bad Capos as ones that don’t fit properly.

Therefore making the guitar sound out of tune while attempting to play with it.

There are a multitude of different styles of Capos.

Adjustable clamp Capos

This style of Capo is one of the most common. These capos clamp onto the neck of the guitar, with a screw that allows for adding or releasing tension.

These Capos are great for the fact that you can eliminate buzzing or even your guitar going out of tune due to tension.

The downside to this style is often then take too long to move around the neck, if you are needing a capo at different frets throughout your musical set/performance.

Spring Capos

Spring Capos are probably the most popular style of Capo among guitarists. These Capos are easily interchangeable, so switching frets between songs is a breeze.

They also tend to be very inexpensive but work like a charm.
The negative to these is that it needs to be placed very straight across the fret.

Due to the fact that there is no tension adjustment on these Capos, you are getting a ‘one size fits all’ style of Capo.

Depending on your needs and your instrument this can be a positive or a negative.

If you are playing on a guitar with a very wide neck you might run into issues with this Capo, and it may not be the best fit for you.

Wrap around Capos

These are probably the least common style of Capo used by guitarists. These styles wrap around the guitar and simply glide up and down to the fret needed.

Some of these styles are adjustable tension with a set screw, while others are spring loaded. The pros to this style is obviously convenience.

I wouldn’t be quick to use this style personally though unless I was planning to use a Capo for almost all of my songs.

I believe this would be a good fit for folk, singer/songwriter style musicians that use Capos quite frequently.

To learn more about capos and how to play songs using one. Check out the best online guitar lesson platform here.

What Does A Capo Do To A Guitar?

The Capo literally acts as a moving nut. Therefore, if you are playing and want to continue playing open chords, but in different keys Capos are placed to change the pitch up in incrememts of 1/2 steps.

This is often why Capos are used regularly in folk and singer/songwriter style guitar playing.

They are also used heavily in some blues music and country styles as well.

What Does A Capo Do to Guitar Chords?

A Capo, when used correctly, takes an open chord shape and raises its pitch.

The biggest advantage of what it does for chords is allows the musician to still play Open chord shapes, without having to fly around the guitar neck using Barre Chords…

I don’t know about you, but after awhile too many Barre chords does a number to my hand and wrist.

So in order to not be all over the neck while playing rhythm guitar a Capo is used.

5 Famous Songs That All Use Capos:

Oasis “Wonderwall”

This song is usually played with a Capo at the 2nd fret of the guitar.

This allows for the song to be played with open chords but puts the chords into a register easier for the vocalist.

The Eagles “Hotel California”

This song makes use of the Capo at the 7th fret.

Obviously The Eagles had a large band usually with many guitar tracks layered over one and another. Hotel California is no exception.

So if you were to be self-accompanying on this song, a Capo would almost have to be used.

The Who “The Real Me”

This song uses a Capo at the 3rd fret. Anything Pete Townshend says goes… so just use it and don’t ask questions on this one:)

The Beatles “Here Comes The Sun”

This song has a capo at the 7th fret.
George Harrison really enjoyed playing with a Capo. Especially at the 7th fret.

Using a D chord shape, but actually playing in the key of A. I mean if a Beatle uses it, it must be a great sound at the 7th fret.

I’ve seen quite a theme of the Beatles using the Capo at the 7th fret.

Tom Petty “Free Falling”.

This song actually makes use of the Capo twice.

Guitar one uses a Capo at the first fret. ( Plays as if the song was in the key of E, but sounds in F)

Guitar two uses a Capo at the third fret. (Plays as if the song is in the key of D, but sounds in F)

The use of both guitars allows for one guitar to sound lower and one guitar to sound higher.

What this really accomplishes, is that it allows for the song to sound much fuller while guitars are technically playing the same parts.

In Conclusion:

Will you get a Capo? If so which style will you choose, and what song will you work on first?

Will you get a Capo? If so which style will you choose, and what song will you work on first?