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Guitar Strings Home  •  What is a Guitar Capo?

What is a Guitar Capo?

Ever wondered what a guitar capo is?  Heard the term used in forums and discussions and made that akward smile like you knew what they were talking about when you really thought it was a type of hat which you were supposed to wear while playing guitar?  Maybe not you, but that's what i thought! (continue reading article below...)

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Anyway, a guitar capo is a clamp that you stick on different frets of the guitar to change the pitch or key of the open strings. Each fret on the guitar is a half step, therefore, if you put a capo on the 1st fret, all of the open strings will sound a half step higher than normal. This makes changing the key of a song very easy.  Have you ever seen a song which had really weird chords that you didn't want to really mess with?  With a capo, you can change the key or pitch of your guitar and make those tough chords easier to play.



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For example, if you have a song in the key of G (usually, the first chord of a song gives away the key of the song) with the chords G, C, and D, you could change the song into the key of A. You would just put a capo on the 2nd fret, and play the chord shapes G, C, and D. These chord shapes will now sound a whole step higher. They will sound like the chords A, D and E.  

When learning more about using a capo, there are 2 basic ideas to understand. Chord shape, and chord sound.

No matter what fret you have the capo on, when you play a G chord shape, in your mind you will always think of it as a G chord. This is a G chord shape. If you were to capo the guitar at the 2nd fret and play a G chord shape, then the chord sound would be that of an A chord.

This is the main idea of using a capo. You are using familiar, maybe even easier chord shapes to get the chord sound of less familiar, more difficult chords. If you have a Bb chord in a song, you could put the capo at the 1st fret, and play an A chord shape. But you will get a Bb chord sound.

All this sounds wonderful but, how do i use a guitar capo?

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