Tag Archives: capo

Harmonic Capo

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 […]

Capo 1

A capo is a device used for shortening the strings, and hence raising the pitch, of a stringed instrument such as a guitar, mandolin or banjo. What a capo does, in effect, is to move the position of the nut of the guitar to shorten the length of the guitar neck and strings and therefore raise their pitch.

Capos are used to change the key and pitch of the open strings of a guitar without having to adjust the strings with the tuning keys.

The pitch of fretted notes does not change; only the open, unfretted strings are affected. It should be noted that the capo is placed as close to the fret as possible; some practitioners recommend placing the modern clamp-style capos directly on the fret, rather than behind it.

Clamping a capo on the fingerboard of your guitar will let you instantly change the key of a song without having to learn new chords. This will come in handy if you accompany a singer whose vocal range is better suited for another key. For example, a capo installed at the second fret on a guitar in standard EADGBE tuning would then have an open tuning of Gb, B, E, A, Db and Gb. The following steps will show how to use a capo on an acoustic guitar.

Because of the different techniques and chord voicings available in different keys, the same piece may sound very different played in D or played in C with a capo at the second fret (at the same actual pitch). Additionally, the timbre of the strings changes as the scale length is shortened, suggesting other short-scaled stringed instruments such as the mandolin. Therefore the use of a capo is as much a matter of artistic expression as of technical expediency.


1. quick release capo

Use a quick-release capo to change keys quickly between songs to accompany different singers while retaining the same voicing.

2. clamping capo

Observe a clamp-style capo. This type fits from the side of the neck and is more difficult to install but allows for capoed tunings that leave some strings open.

3. pencil and band.

strictly for the hobo’s, man. ride them rails!


The partial capo (also known as a cut capo or short cut capo) is a regular six string acoustic guitar capo that has been “cut” or altered to allow it to clamp down only on certain strings while leaving other strings open or unclamped. Typically, partial or cut capos clamp down on the A, D, and G strings on a regular-tuned six-string, which results in a DADGAD-style alternate tuning. Many guitarist place a standard, spring-loaded capo backwards on the guitar, so the shorter side of the capo (normally providing pressure on the back of the neck) clamps the inner strings.

Dominic Frasca is known for his customized ten-string prepared guitar with single string “mini-capos” as well as sticks and levers attached to the guitar to create percussive sounds and effects.