They say the dog is man’s best friend, well the same could be true of a guitar capo. It’s a complete game-changer for every beginning guitar player. The power behind the capo is its simple design. It allows any guitarist to change keys with a simple clamp onto their guitar.
Invented in the 1700’s, the first capo was made with a single piece of brass heated carefully into a “C” shape. Although the quality has improved over time, most of the design has remained the same.
Anyone who has ever played with a capo understands it impacts immediately. It simply makes you sound better to everyone around you. Instead of having to bar chord around the neck of your guitar in various keys, you can simply put a capo and play your typically 6m, 4, 1, 5 progressions.
Not only does playing with a capo make you more flexible in different keys, but it also helps your playability with other guitarists. In a recording or jam session, one guitar play can be playing without a capo in the shape of G, while you play with a capo on the seventh fret in the shape of C. Although the notes are the same, the voicing sounds completely different. This makes up for a larger and more dynamic sound.
What To Look For When Buying A Capo
I think if you have been playing the guitar long enough, you will have a pretty good idea of which capo you prefer. For me, different capos do different things. What’s most important is to understand what type of guitar you have, and which capo will perform best with it.
For example, when I was about 3 years into playing the guitar, I was asked to fill in for an electric player at a gig. Basically, my job was to listen to the songs and play his parts. Well, upon listening to the songs, I noticed that most of his parts had electric parts that could only be voiced with a Capo.
As I practiced with the Capo on my electric guitar, I noticed that my guitar would come out of tune halfway in between the songs. Not only that, but the dynamics of my guitar sounded much different than the recordings. I was a nervous wreck. I had no idea that the problem was not the strings, effects, or guitar. It was the capo I was using.
I wish I could tell you that I figured out the problem before I made it to the gig, but that would be a lie. I did make it to the gig and talked to the band leader about the problem.
“This guy plays with a capo right?” I said to him.
“Yeah?” he said kind of laughing at the question.
Over the next hour, I completely bombed the gig and was never asked to play with the band again. To this day, it’s still a little embarrassing. All I want to do is go back to myself 12 years ago and say, “get the right capo!” Lesson learned. Well, at least you get the dividends of learning from my mistakes. That’s fine with me.
The point is, before you purchase a capo, take a look at your guitar and figure out what would work best with it. If that fails, just go with an all-in-one design. Although these can be a little pricier, you are almost guaranteed to be able to stay in tune throughout the song on an electric guitar!
Let’s take a look at some of the best capos out there and discover which one is going to be a great fit for you.