A capo is a small tool that clamps a barre across the strings of the guitar (the actual fret clamped is up to the guitarist) effectively raising the pitch of the instrument.
Why Use a Capo?
Capos are often used by guitarists to play songs in different keys. In situations where singers prefer to sing in G♭ or E♭, a guitarist can use a capo to allow for this, while still playing basic chords in open position.
Do I Need a Capo?
Yes. If you play guitar, you should own a capo, no matter what style of music you play. Capos aren't just for beginner acoustic guitarists - blues legend Albert Collins routinely used a capo on his Telecaster.
How to Use a Capo
- attach the capo as close to the metal fret as possible without causing buzzes when you hit the strings
- make sure the capo is tight enough that all open strings ring clearly
- the capoed fret becomes your new nut
- make sure capo doesn't bend your strings when you clamp it on, as this will make your guitar sound out of tune
- capos can get in the way of your fretting hand - check to be sure whatever capo you choose doesn't interfere with your technique
- pay close attention to the points of contact between the capo and the guitar - you don't want your fretboard scratched
There are several types of capos, each of which have relative strengths and weaknesses. The following pages provide a critical look at each type of guitar capo.