When I first started getting beginner guitar lessons Omaha, I used to think that I had to be able to play everything without a capo. Maybe it was a macho thing – I felt it was a crutch. It’s easy to see where this line of thinking comes from: after all, guitars don’t come with them built in, so it seems like some gimmick that’s used to make guitar way easier!
At a certain point, though, I realized that to play some kinds of music it’s kind of essential. Yeah, it kinda seems like cheating – it totally helps you avoid playing barre chords sometimes – and it lets you change keys without learning more chords and theory, but it also allows you to play some things that are otherwise impossible.
Why you might need a capo:
- If a song is written with a capo, there’s a 99% chance that it’ll be impossible to play without one
- It changes the overall tone of the guitar. The higher up the neck you go, the “lighter” the guitar will sound.
- You can change keys instantly simply by moving the capo up the neck. This is great for adjusting a song to suit your (or someone else’s) vocal range.
I’m in no way saying that you should get a capo and never learn barre chords… I’d actually rather have access to barre chords than a capo if I had to choose one. What I’m saying is: a capo provides you with a reliable way to shift keys easily and quickly, and allows you to play some things that are otherwise impossible without one. I highly recommend one if you plan on strumming a lot of chords… and if you’re playing electric guitar and riffs mainly, you’ll occasionally need one if you’re playing songs that are written with one.
Tips for using a capo:
- Put it as close to the fret as possible (The same place where you’d put your finger if you were pressing it)
- If your capo has adjustable tension, make sure it’s JUST enough… too much will put your guitar out of tune
- No matter what, capos will definitely raise the pitch a bit, so make sure to re-tune your guitar when you put one on
Some people have asked for specific recommendations as to what kind of capo they should get. Here are the ones that I personally recommend.
Over the years, I’ve used a bunch of different capos – spring loaded, shubb, trigger style, ratchet – and, in all honesty, I haven’t found much difference between the really “high-end” capos vs. the more affordable ones. I personally prefer the Shubb capo overall, as it has adjustable tension and mine has lasted about 12 years so far, but I also have some cheap-o ones lying around that do the job fine.
If you do decide you need a capo, you can help support us by purchasing one through the following links. A small percentage of your purchase is redirected towards Good Guitarist which helps give us the resources to bring you better and better (free) lessons!