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FAQ: What's a Capo?


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Q: I've read about using a capo to play certain tabs and songs.  What's a Capo?

A:  A capo is a handy little tool that guitarists use to temporarily change the key they're playing in.  This spring loaded mechanical device is act as a 'moveable nut' in that it holds down the strings at whatever fret you connect it to.

Capo on Guitar
Guitar Capo
By placing a capo on your guitar you effectively shorten the strings and thereby raise the pitch.  The higher up you place your capo, the higher the pitch.  This is the exact same effect that you get when you barre a fret with one finger - pressing down all the strings on one fret with a single finger.  A capo just makes barring a lot easier and relieves tension on your hand.

A capo is ideal for adjusting the pitch of a song instead of rearranging the chords.  Say for example you have a song in the key of C, but C is it just to low for you to sing in.  Instead of transposing (just means 'changing') the chords to the key of D (one key higher), you can place the capo of the second fret and still play in C.
A capo is a great tool to experiment with if you're looking for a new, fresh sound or if you find chords with flats (Bb) and sharps (G#) difficult to play.  I personally always use a Capo when performing live.  It's the ideal tool to adjust song keys to the level of my voice range.  It's simply to use, quick to re-adjust and makes a huge difference in sound and pitch.
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