If you’re into alternate tunings and experimenting with new and interesting sounds on your guitar, then you’ll love the Harmonic Capo created by Bob Kilgore. Unlike a regular capo that presses the strings down at the desired fret effectively changing the placement of the nut, the Harmonic Capo gently rests on the strings.
The effect is what you would get if you lightly placed your finger over the strings at a harmonic node and struck the strings. The most common and strongest harmonic nodes are at the 5th, 7th and 12th frets (and 17th if you can reach it).
Also, unlike conventional capos that allow you to only play in-front of where the capo is placed, the harmonic capo, allows you to play both in-front and behind the capo opening up a whole range of possibilities worth exploring.
The harmonic capo works in tandem with open tunings such as open C (Low to high: CGCGBE) open G tuning (low to high: DGDGBD) or open D tuning or DADGAD. With an open chord being played with no fingers being placed on the fretboard, this enables you to explore different melodic runs while adding in colorful harmonics throughout.
Of course, if you’re new to open tunings, it’s worth taking some time to familiarize yourself with the different shapes to produce chords of one tuning, before moving onto another. It might be helpful at this point to write down all the notes of the fretboard as they have changed with the tuning to get a better picture of what your working with.
With all this in mind, use of a Harmonic Capo really benefits finger style playing but that shouldn’t really stop anyone, who is interested in exploring the possibilities the Harmonic Capo offers from having a go. If you’re intrigued to hear some examples, head over to Bob Kilgore’s site and watch a few of his videos. Check out the video below, a number of excerpts from his latest CD offering.
His playing is sure to inspire you to push your playing in a new direction, even if you return having decided that it’s not the path you wanna take.
Learn more about Dan Orr on his Google profile.