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Do I Need A Capo For Guitar?

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:

  1. If a song is written with a capo, there’s a 99% chance that it’ll be impossible to play without one
  2. It changes the overall tone of the guitar. The higher up the neck you go, the “lighter” the guitar will sound.
  3. 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:

  1. Put it as close to the fret as possible (The same place where you’d put your finger if you were pressing it)
  2. If your capo has adjustable tension, make sure it’s JUST enough… too much will put your guitar out of tune
  3. 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!

Shubb Capo

Pros:

  • Adjustable tension doesn’t de-tune your guitar as much
  • Very sturdy (can last a LONG time)

Cons:

  • Price is a bit higher
  • Takes longer to put on/take off

Price: ~$20 USD

Buy it here (and help support Good Guitarist)

Kyser Capo

Pros:

  • Easy and quick to place/remove capo (it’s actually called a “quick-change” capo)
  • Sturdy, and lasts a long time

Cons:

  • Tension is not adjustable, so it de-tunes your guitar a bit more
  • The spring wears out after a while and it loses its grip
  • It’s a name brand, so it costs more than the cheaper copies

Price: ~$20 USD

Buy it here (and help support Good Guitarist)

Spring Loaded Capo

gold dunlop capo

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Works exactly like the more expensive capos

Cons:

  • Mine actually fell apart (but it takes 10 seconds to put it back together)
  • Just like the Kyser, the spring wears out after a while and it loses its grip

Price: ~$12 USD

Buy it here (and help support Good Guitarist)

2017-05-18T12:45:42-08:00 March 4th, 2017|Categories: Article|Tags: |