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Capo. Cheat or godsend?

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Little Hawk 31 Jul 00 - 02:13 PM
Jon Freeman 31 Jul 00 - 02:21 PM
Les B 31 Jul 00 - 02:22 PM
Whistle Stop 31 Jul 00 - 02:44 PM
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Subject: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 12:05 PM

I have found the capo to be a great help. That is probably the view for most of those that play 'folk' guitar, to whom it would be considered a vital piece of equipment. There are some like jazz, rock and classical players however who would tend to frown on this little invention.

It would be interesting to hear a little of the history of this invention and of any similar things for other instruments. The only thing near it, that I can think off, is those things on some harps, that you see the player 'flip', when they want to play in another key.

Recently at a session a friend borrowed mine, to try on his fiddle! He had a theory that if he placed it where the first fret would be, it would enable him to play in Bb, with lots of open strings? I think that is what he said, it may have been the beer? The mandolin, of course is often played with a capo…..

There is some more technical stuff about it here A capo question


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Willie-O
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 12:16 PM

For certain styles of guitar playing the capo is invaluable--ie open, DADGAD and other modal tuning, or to find a most comfortable singing range, and in many cases to functionally lower the action and reduce annoying overtones on guitars with great sound but playability problems.

I've never used one on a mandolin--seems pointless somehow-- and I intensely dislike the damping effect one has on my mandola so I don't use it there either.

If your guitar style involves a lot of stringbending capoes are a nightmare. I sort of got in the habit of very little bending, using other dynamic tricks instead for a bit of flash (vibrato & tremolo), since I hater going out of tune all the time.

You get a nice high sound with a 5th to 7th fret capo, which is nice to have for sonic variety. The tradeoff of course is you can't go as far up the fingerboard and play an octave above the the open scale for the key you're in...

I use JimDunlop double straps--cheap and replaceable

W-O


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Marion
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 12:42 PM

I would vote for godsend. I would say that my capo is my fourth most treasured possession, after my fiddle, my guitar, and my fiddle's shoulder rest.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Tiger
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 12:45 PM

I think that those who call it a "cheat" are being cruel and shortsighted. And if they BELIEVE it, they're just ignorant.

    CONS Can be hard on the neck if you're not careful
    Can inhibit learning new keys (if REALLY used as a "cheat)

    PROS Much easier to quickly match another performer or recording
    Enables you to play in less familiar keys

More important, though, the sound is different as you play the same chord (let's say a C) in different positions using a capo.

In natural C formation, I get G-D-C-G-D-G In A formation (Capo 3), I get E-C-G-E-C-E

Still a C chord, but not the same sound. Most important - a different group of melody notes are available under my regular chord positions. Which way I do it will depend on the type of sound I want.

So, please, don't call it a "cheat". Watch any performance, look at your album covers - all the professionals use them, and you KNOW they know the chords.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Allan C.
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 12:50 PM

I find a capo to be very helpful at times. I do a lot of melody picking which sometimes limits the keys in which I can pick a song. But the key I can pick in is not always the key in which I can sing. Then is when the capo seems to be the only way to go.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Kim C
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:02 PM

Godsend, godsend, godsend. Did I say godsend?

I love to sing in b-flat but who in their right mind actually wants to play the guitar in that key? Nobody I know.

Went to see Peter Rowan a couple of years ago, and you know what? He had that capo on his guitar just about the whole time. After that I never felt guilty again.

Sometimes it can mess with the sound of your instrument. This is where you just have to listen and pay attention to your individual guitar. :)


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:06 PM

Jazz guitar players tend to play "closed" chords -- chords that have no open strings. For them, a capo is unnecessary, and they sometimes take a disparaging view of people who use them. In any other style, open strings are an integral part of the sound of the guitar. So non-jazz guitar music tends to sound different in different "frames" -- which are different keys when played without a capo. the capo makes it possible to match one frame with a different key, so it's an important tool. Same goes for open tunings -- you can get the particular sonority of a DADGAD tuning in a number of different keys by using a capo.

Also, as Willie-O mentioned, using a capo can impact the sound even if you aren't particular about what key you're playing in. A capo affects the tonality of the instrument, and the altered tonality can be just what you're looking for sometimes. Flamenco guitarists always used them (they call it a "cejilla") to match the key the singer was in, but through this they discovered the way it affects the tonality, so that now you'll even see solo flamenco guitarists using them. [Willie-O is also right about string bending; capos severaly limit your ability to do this and remain in tune.]

My capo of choice is the Shubb, because you can adjust the pressure (back off on the adjustment screw as you go up the neck). On instruments with a flatter-than-Martin fingerboard (my Lowden and my Larrivee both share this attribute), it helps if you "customize" it by either straightening the metal bar somewhat, or shaving down the ends of the rubber sleeve that goes over it.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Mbo
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:14 PM

HEY! B flat is fun to play in!


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Wesley S
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:14 PM

I vote for Godsend. However - about two years ago I saw a singer open up for Alison Krauss. He played the entire set - 8 or 10 songs all in the key of D while moving his capo around. In my opinion I see that as a crutch.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:28 PM

I have to admit, for me it's both a crutch and a godsend. I see myself as mainly a singer and only incidentally an instrumentalist on guitar or banjo. For variety or to place a song at a level where I can handle the range, I'd have a hard time getting along with a capo.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,Banjo Johnny
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:32 PM

For centuries, horns have been supplied with crooks of various sizes to change the resonant length of the air column, and thus the fundamental key of the horn -- the brass player's equivalent of a capo. No one has ever suggested this was a cheat. == Johnny in OKC


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: JedMarum
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:58 PM

The capo is not only about key changes, it's about chord voicings ... I very often transpose a song just I can capo up the neck and get the voicing or the even the scale I am looking for (ie., to pick out melody or bass notes notes). You also might want to compliment the range in which another instrument in your group is playing in - or yu simply want that delicate, glassy, muisc box quality you get when you capo up high ...

To call it a cheat is simply ignorant.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Jon W.
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 02:06 PM

Jazz and rock players generally use electric guitars which typically have smaller gauge strings and lower action (You don't have to pick very hard for volume, so buzzing isn't a problem) and classical guitarists use nylon or gut strings which require much less effort to fret also. So they can go around playing barre cords all day and don't need a capo. Let them try that with the steel string acoustic guitars most folk players prefer, and see if they think capos are a cheat after that.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: MandolinPaul
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 02:12 PM

I will also agree that the capo is not a cheat (although I don't like using them myself); if you like'm use'm. The majority here seems to think that they are godsends.

About a year ago (more or less, I don't really know), there was a thread about electronic tuners. I was definitely in the minority saying that they are wonderful items, and by no means show a musician's hack status. I wonder, has that opinion changed?

Paul. apologizing for the thread creep, Shambles.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 02:13 PM

The capo is a godsend, no doubt. I have seen Shawn Colvin use a capo, and she can play the guitar so damn well that it's scary, so it's no cheat. I have tried a whole lot of capos, and the very best in my experience is the Shubb Capo, with the adjustable screw for changing the tension. I don't like the Kyser ones...reason being, they grip too tightly, and that throws the 6th string off key, causing it to go sharp. It helps if you angle the capo slight farther back from the fret on the bass end. Hooray for capos!


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 02:21 PM

I consider the capo to be both a cheat and a godsend. If I use a capo on the guitar or banjo to play in keys that I find just about impossible with out the capo, I do think that I am cheating although having the device is a godsend.

As has been mentioned by several others, there are of course other reasons for using the capo.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Les B
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 02:22 PM

Well, despite the quip that our bass player makes, "A capo allows you to play out of tune in any key," I think they're a godsend. After all, do you want be known as a musician or a contortionist ?

It seems I remember seeing a lute or other 16th century guitar-like instrument in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford that had a hole through the neck on each of several frets for bolting on a type of capo. It's traditional !


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 02:44 PM

Jed makes a good point about voicings -- I tried to say something similar, but he said it better. I also like his comment about complementing the range of another instrument you're playing with. In fact, if two guitars are playing together, it can be nice to have one play in a lower register while the other plays higher up. This is true in a number of different styles, even simple chord strumming -- the Everly Brothers come to mind (often employing a standard tuning at one place on the neck, against an open tuning at another, making a nice full, open rhythm sound).

Paul, when I'm at home tuning my own instrument I tend to use a tuning fork for the first pitch, followed by listening to the intervals to get the rest of the strings to match up. But I don't think any less of people who use an electronic tuner for this. And onstage with a group of musicians, the electric tuner can be a life-saver.

This is music, not an athletic contest -- I think people should use whatever works for them.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 03:05 PM

The capo guitar


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 03:57 PM

Despite the fact that it is easier to make full barres with a nylon-string guitar, it is not dead easy. Besides when you use your index finger to make a barre, that finger can't be used for other frets and your hand position is less free. So, in other words, a barre doesn't replace a capo.

There are good fingerpickers who tune their guitar down (say to open "C") and then capo up. Using the guitar un-capo-ed with light strings would produce a lot of buzzing in this case.

Maybelle Carter tended to play using "C shapes" (ie she fingered the chords as if she were in the key of "C") but she would tune down as much as three frets and then capo up to get, say "B". Doc Watson uses a capo when he plays with other instruments or sings. He calls the capo his "cheater".

Before you say these people are cheating, you have to know the rules!

Murray


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: campfire
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 04:07 PM

For me, definitely a godsend, although I'm the last person I would call a "guitar player".

I know a performer that has modified capos to create other tunings without re-tuning his guitar; he cuts away some of the rubber so those strings aren't affected. I don't know what tuning he keeps his guitar in or what parts of the capo he cuts away, but it makes changing tunings in performances quicker.

campfire


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: JedMarum
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 04:11 PM

In folk-style, acoustic guitar, the player very often counts on combinations of open an fretted strings for the sound he/she is creating. Most folk-style guitar is accompaniment for vocals ... true, the instrumentalist aspects of folk-style has developed over the years, but it is still common for a folk (or folk-style) song to have lyrics as its primary focus. The capo has allowed folk style performers to keep that primary focus on the vocals (switch to any depednding quickly, depending upon who is singing) and to develop intricate, accompaniment-based instrumentation behind the vocal. I think this is part of the way folk-style developed the use of a capo to an art.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 04:16 PM

Nah, it ain't "cheating" Sham. Classical guitarists take care of the "capo" issue, by transcribing everything to "guitar" keys. (they want those "open" strings as much as anyone) Flamenco guitarists go through whole careers ONLY using a capo (often way up on the 6th, 7th, or even 8th(!) fret)

Even Chet Atkins plays most of his instrumentals in "guitar keys".

Someone who didn't? Merle Travis.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Bagpuss
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 04:27 PM

I particularly like using a capo on my 12 string. The high G rings so beatifully up there.

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Mbo
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 04:36 PM

And you folks hate electric guitar! Hah!


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Paul Jay
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 04:37 PM

I'd like to agree with "Whistle Stop". Whatever works is fine. I think people who complain about capos are the same people who used to whine that Steele Eye Span's songs wern't "Traditional". I'd say the same thing Steele Eye said, "have the roadies throw them out".


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: oggie
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 04:38 PM

The capo is a godsend on guitar - especially for those voicings where I want to use all the strings for effect but can't sing in the correct key without the capo.

One request - in sessions please can we remember that a capo can raise the pitch and retune guitars as needed!

All the best

Steve


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Tiger
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 04:45 PM

So, at least, the 'Catters know it isn't a cheat.

BTW, thanks, Little Hawk, for the pointer on the Kyser.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Llanfair
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 04:55 PM

I couldn't accompany myself without a capo. I am mainly a singer, and very lazy about learning new chords. I am, however, very good at transposing songs to D. Bron.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,Giac, not at home
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 05:22 PM

I'm lazy and feel the same way about capos (capoes??, electronic tuners, computers and cake mixes.

Why not? If you have the technology and the results are the same, why not!

Besides, I, too, like the different voicings, especially if playing on the porch with a bunch of people. If some folks use capos on different frets, it gives variety to the piddling around.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: catspaw49
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 05:31 PM

Works both ways for me and I think Jed really nailed a lot of the more salient points. The difference in voicing can be just what a song needs sometimes.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 05:45 PM

It's just another tool in my musical tool box. I use it when I feel I should, and I don't at other times. If it's good enough for Doc Watson, Norman Blake and Tony Rice, it's good enough for me. All the best. Seamus


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Lanfranc
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 06:28 PM

I'll vote for godsend.

I use Shubbs, but my all-time favourite was a Heriba, which was a German-made (I think) moulded plastic gismo with a comb-like bar under a soft plastic moulding. It was held in place by a ratchet device of moulded interlocking teeth, which did no damage to the neck, never put your guitar out of tune but made a raucous farting noise when you deployed it!

Haven't seen them in years - probably bought out by Dunlops!


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: JedMarum
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 06:55 PM

when I see you capo up to the 4th fret and play in C, I'll probably stay in first position and play in E ... when I see you play sans capo in D, I am apt to capo 2 and play in C - of course it all depends upon the song, and what limits my playing may have in those alternate keys ... capo's a godsend!


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 07:17 PM

Well this sure is a very helpful thread

Murray's point about 'know the rules' does rings some truth for me. Althought I do use the capo, in the long run I would eventually like to learn all the chord positions required to play in different keys without the capo. But even when I do accomplish that, like others have mentioned, the capo would always offer me altered tonalities to explore.
I am also just learning about my voice range so I find the capo really helpful for that too.
I use a Kyser and although is broke within the first year the company did replace it. I also use the elastic band type capos, just not sure what it is called.

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: catspaw49
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 08:38 PM

Hey Alan.......Is your background military! I've never heard the word "deploy" used with capos before, but I love it.

"BOSUNPICKER...FINGER C and prepare to deploy the capo on 2."

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Mbo
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 08:51 PM

Men, the orders have just come down from HQ. At 0900 hours, we execute a full barre G sharp at the fourth fret, subsequently removing the second finger and reinstating it upon the eight fret, second string, thus attaining G-sharp-sixth status...


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 09:50 PM

I am delighted of all your opinions I read above - seems you are the kind of people I can communicate with. I even think that these opinions are not ... er ... 'extreme' enough.

You know I 'was raised' as a guitar player while always performing alone and in a situation like that you simply can't help to also somehow learn to sing. I never did music as a professional but I did have contact with audiences, and I learned that singing isn't easier or less fascinating than playing guitar, that a song is a whole you can manage or not, and that your special skills in playing guitar is among the last things the audience is interested in when it comes to listening to a song. Of course the performance of your song may depend extremely on how you play your guitar - but it depends on how THE SONG SOUNDS, not on how YOUR PLAYING LOOKS (to guitar teachers).

A guitar isn't like a piano. You have to do much more than press one in a row of buttons to produce a sound. Well, this also gives you the power of doing much more than that. Use it! On a guitar chords sound different when played in the same key but with different fingering because of different capo positions. Choose the best one! AND: The whole guitar must somehow match the singing...

A capo is one of the things necessary to make the best of a song, just one of the available tools: Among flatpicks, fingerpicks, fingernails, bottlenecks and so on. Would you call using a flatpick 'cheating' ????

The goal is the song. There's absolutely no excuse for not doing a song although you would be able to. I'm talking of doing a song NOW - tomorrow is much too late. And there is also no excuse for not doing a song as good as you can NOW. Hence: There is no excuse for not using a capo although possible (thus improving the song, of course).

So if anybody shows up who is looking down on us 'cheaters' who use 'godsent' capos: Well I might like to discuss guitars with him but not music or even ART. (GrrrRRRrrr...!)

Thanks to you all

Joerg


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: bbelle
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 09:51 PM

My capo is my friend! Repeat that 25 times!

Because my small hands prevent me from barre chords and chords that take 4 fingers, the capo affords me the capability of changing keys to make my performance more interesting.

(Disclaimer) That is my educated opinion regarding what I do and probably wouldn't apply to anyone else.

I think I've tried almost every kind of capo imaginable. little hawk's description of what the Kyser does is spot-on. I prefer the Paige to the Shubb.

Seamus ... I gotta love a man who uses the words "Doc Watson, Norman Blake, and Tony Rice" in one breath.

moonchild


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Brendy
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 09:59 PM

I use a Kyser when accompanying Trad in DAGDAD.
The 'handle' of it is lengthened by a 3 in long piece of dowel rod, quite ineloquently fastened to it with duct tape.

When changing key, say, from D to F to A in the course of a set of tunes, it is much easier to take a hold of and affords a bit more leverage, when making those quick changes.

Doesn't look like much, but it does the job.

B.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Brendy
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 10:00 PM

Otherwise, I use a Shubb.

B.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: bbelle
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 10:04 PM

Bill Sables said he preferred the Kyser for the same reason ... for quick-changes during a set.

moonchild


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,aunttesa
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 12:18 AM

JUST CHEAT, IF YOU WANT TO CALL IT THAT. IT'S ALL ABOUT MAKING THAT GREAT SOUND BETWEEN GUITAR AND VOICE. I KNOW FOLKS WHO ARE ALWAYS DEMANDING THAT I "PLAY A SONG LIKE IT IS WRITTEN." WRITTEN WHICH TIME. JUST MAKE MUSIC; HOWEVER IT COMES OUT OF YOUR HEART!


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Mooh
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 08:22 AM

I DO get kinda tired of defending my use of capos, for open strings, sustain, guitar-friendly keys, mock open tunings with altered capos (much described alsewhere on the 'Cat) and so on, but somebody mentioned Kysers. I've got several, all cut for altered tunings, but I still find the handle difficult to use as it faces away from the player. A similar capo with an easier handle is made by Dunlop, and I use it when I need a full capo. It's not as fine-tunable as the Schubb, but works well nonetheless. It is also a better choice (IMHO) to recommend to student players, as it requires no tinkering.

Paige and Golden Gate capos are also secure devices and easy to adapt for various tunings, but often need their padding adapted so they don't scatch the back of the neck. Leather works well. The Kyser string rubber is also the best to retro-fit most capos except the Shubb, which has the best string rubber.

Having said all this, the Shubb is still my most used full capo.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 08:54 AM

Thanks for all this information. It was a question I had thought of asking (in my ignorance), having noticed that only "folkish" players used them, rather than jazz or blues players that I've seen.
RtS (just a little bit less ill-informed now)


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 10:58 AM

I always used an elastic capo so I could manually LIFT it up at the moment I might need an extra low note. Especially when playing "Meadowlands" in the key of C, a capo at the 2nd fret, judiciously raised in a timely manner, was the only way to achieve the necessary low note. I explain it in these terms 'cause I play by ear and have no other way to set out the facts of what I did. (Playing by ear made me develop huge calluses on my lobes. Had to have a lobotomy to remove them every so often.)

Later on in my musical life, I used the capo with the strings tuned down a full note and a half to get concert pitch with the strings slack enough for me to be able to depress them. That worked quite well for several years.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 11:12 AM

FWIW, a practical fiddle capo (particularly useful for Scottish dance tunes) consist of a dhort piece of string trimmer line slid UNDER the strings near trhe nut.

A good instruentaklist who uses a capo is a good instrumentalist; a bad one who uses a caopo is just bad in more keys.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 01:10 PM

Dick. The fiddle not having frets, if you used a guitar-type capo, your open strings would sound stopped instead of open. The gadget you describe just has the effect of moving the nut down the fingerboard. That is what a guitar capo does anyway. It makes the fret in front of it act like the nut.

By the way, Dick, your posting reminds me of an old joke. It is a letter to a typewriter company that goes something like:

Dear Xir,

I am writing becauxe I have found a problem in my new machine. Everytime I press an x I get an x instead. I hope you can xend me a new one xoon.

Yourx xincerely

and so on.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Ed Pellow
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 01:51 PM

Using a capo is certainly not a cheat. I've met 'macho' guitarists who think differently but as someone said earlier in the thread, that's simply ignorant.

Music is about producing a pleasing sound. If a capo helps do that then it's great. Do any of us consider using modern instruments with improved action and intonation a cheat? Or should we use 'authentic' hard to play guitars?

My favourite folk guitarists; Nic Jones and Martin Carthy have both used capos to good effect. If anyone wishes to denigrate the capo, let them be better guitarists than them first.

Ed


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 05:00 PM

LesB: You speak of a old lute with holes at each fret, which you say (speculate?) were for attaching a capo. I suspect that the purpose of the holes was for, of all things, frets! It was common to use a gut string across the neck as a fret, as distinguished from the metal frets we use today.

Now if there were actual frets on the fingerboard as well as the holes you mention, you might be right about their function.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 05:10 PM

Mooh:
I have two Keysers, one for the banjo, one for the guitar. I normally use the "handle" on the 6th (guitar) or 5th (banjo) side. But if I should, occasionally want to capo at the fifth fret of the banjo or above, I'll face it from the 1st string side. No problem either way, really.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: bbelle
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 05:19 PM

The following is a story from the Flatpickl list that gave me a chuckle.

BTW ... the capo vs. macho controversy seems to be among the men of music, not the women. Glad I'm in with the women ...

Anyway ... here's the story:

"I'm one of those guys that gets "one of each" so I own every bit of guitar accessory ever made. Be very, very careful with store bought partial capos, esp the short Schubbs (for virtual DADGAD ) The danger of course, is that when you're on your way out the door, and you reach in the drawer where you keep all that crap, you're gonna grab that little bugger instead of a real capo, cuz they look just alike when you're in a hurry. Then you won't realize it until you're on stage and everyone's ready to play the next tune in E flat, and you've got it down cold in a C position at the third fret and ....... anyway this never happens to me."


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Mooh
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 06:02 PM

Dave, Tried that, and every other way imaginable, but I still prefer it sticking out the back. At any rate Kyser has definitely still made as much coin off me as any guitar player, 'cause I need them for "virtual" tunings and I'm on my second set (the first ones being swiped), roughly 14 altogether.

Here's another capo...Using a bit of Corian (I think it's a trademark brand name) scrap from a store that does kitchen counter conversions, I fashion a "capo-nut" which slides between the strings and the fingerboard to raise the strings slightly for the facilitation of slide playing. Wood will work, as will various metals, but I settled on Corian for the tone. Only a slight loosening of strings is necessary to install this. The advantage is that it can be moved about, fret to fret. It rests over the fret with a crown that is in line with the fret so that no intonation adjustments are required. In a pinch a simple piece of thick wire will work, or steel rod, when positioned close to the fret.

Are we having fun yet? Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Brendy
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 06:23 PM

I used to have one of these, until some wanker swiped it on me one night, last year.
You can't get them, to my knowledge, outside of the U.S.

It opens up a whole myriad of opportunities to be creative in both standard and any other tuning you care to name.
It can also be used, of course, in conjunction with a 'normal' capo, or, indeed, with another 'Third Hand'
I find the Shubbs very solid, though, for all their size.
The Keysers I have are 'heavily' customised for the job I want them to do; as well as lengthening the handle, I have 're-shaped' the underside as well.
I wouldn't use a 'normal' one, if I had a option to use something else. It's design, though, is the closest I can get to facilitate the changing of key, up or down the neck, within the space of a beat, while still keeping the DAGDAD formation.

B.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 08:51 PM

moonchild -

For creating "capo-vs.-macho-controversy": Is there already an emoticon like :-° ? If not it should mean: 'I'm feeling able to kiss you round any corner!'

on my knees

Joerg


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: bbelle
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 09:02 PM

Joerg ... "huh?"

moonchild


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Les B
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 01:23 AM

Doesterr - I'm pretty sure that the instrument also had frets, maybe the tied on gut as you suggest, but the hole was in the middle of the neck, front to back, and I believe they had the attachment, too. (It's been several years. I pretty well assured myself it was a capo (or movable nut) at an early period.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,Ely
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 02:22 AM

Godsend, godsend, godsend. Whoever said it's cheating has never tried to play a song-ful of bar chords on a steel-string guitar. I know "proper" D and A chords but they make my hands cramp up after I've been playing them for 4 or 6 hours--C and G are much less stressful for me. Also, I have very short, very crooked fingers that are horribly unsuited for barring (not to mention it just isn't practical to do flying bar-chord changes during a break-neck square-dance tune).

I suppose it depends on your style--some styles have no use for a capo and some are unnecessarily difficult without one. I have a monstrous D-shaped capo that my mother bought in 1972--it looks like something you might close around someone's neck to strangle them--but once I figured out how to use it, I was glad I had it.

Incidentally, they are invaluable on the mountain dulcimer, especially when playing with chromatic instruments so you don't have to retune all the time.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 05:14 AM

I have noticed the Celtic contingent of our folk club tend to have two Keysers which are often both clipped onto the neck at different places. Are they doing wild things with the tuning by using each one as a partial capo?

Murray


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Mooh
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 08:05 AM

Murray, Likely. I use a combination of two-string capos to give me virtual tunings like E, Am, Em and raised variations in combination with a full capo. Also virtual DADGAD and open A and their raised relatives with a full capo. Various dropped tunings using the "drop D" and "double drop D" capos in combination with a full capo. This is assuming standard tuning as a starting point. Drop tunings with an open chord tuning as a starting point are cool and allow wider chord voicings than normal, a benefit when trying to be bass, guitar, and piano all at once.

Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 08:07 PM

A friend of mine in CA uses a little Shubb which has been bent to fit on her fiddle. Works just fien when playing with bagpipes. I use Kysers and Shubbs. Al the best. Seamus


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 08:35 PM

What "huh", MC? Your 'capo vs. macho' is one of the great inventions of our century, simply divine. How else can you give somebody calling you a cheater for using a capo capo an adequate answer?

Capo.

Up to now I I felt somehow helpless in that situation. But now with your genius by my side they may come and fight me like a haha man, those those those mama machos those chauvinists and rapers ahahaha those ripipipers...

Ahahahaha !!! Ha !!!!

sorry for having to finish now there are two gentlemen at my door

Joerg !!!!!

PSPSPSPS: ahahahahahahargh


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 31 Oct 04 - 01:17 AM

Barre Chords are a bitch to play on an acoustic, especially a 12-string, so I put the capo on ( a Shubb of course) and it gives me no problem. I also like the sound of open strings better anyway.
This is also a godsend when I'm stuck in a certain mode or key, or I'm having trouble writing music for a song. I stick a capo on, and it's a whole new instrument...


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 31 Oct 04 - 01:34 AM

Try a G7th Chris - knocks the Shubb into a cocked hat. Like moving from the 19th Century to the 21st in one jump. They're dear but they're superb, well worth the money.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 31 Oct 04 - 10:30 AM

They're junk at half the price...


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 31 Oct 04 - 10:36 AM

Got one?


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 31 Oct 04 - 11:42 AM

Tried one...   there's no way it was worth the money they wanted for it...   I recall I coulda bought 2 or 3 Kysers for the price of a G7... and it's my experience that Kysers work WAY better than G7s...


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 31 Oct 04 - 12:24 PM

tHE sHUBB IS DEFINITELY THE BEST i'VE TRIED...


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 31 Oct 04 - 12:54 PM

As I accompany myself on the guitar and there is just me, I think I would give up without a capo. I usually set it on the second fret and see how my voice is - sometimes I move it up, more usually down, or once in a while take it off entirely.

Having to learn to play all the songs I play along with in all the variations I can accomplish with the capo would probably defeat my aging memory. I have to rely on habit anyway - after 40 years I don't even think about what I am playing I just do it. It is such a part of me that I can play without actually thinking about doing it. If I want to change something I have to play it many times before trying to sing it - at least if I want to get it right

Anne


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 31 Oct 04 - 01:54 PM

The 2nd fret is one of my favorite positions. The 3rd also...


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: DocMando
Date: 31 Oct 04 - 03:30 PM

All I know is that you can get the banjo player in your bluegrass band really ticked off at you if you make too much fun about his reliance on a capo. Since the Scruggs-style of banjo playing makes heavy use of open strings, capo-ing and retuning are a fact of life for these unfortunate souls (oops, there I go again).

Rich


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Davetnova
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 07:48 AM

Here is a link to the ealy guitar mentioned above with the screwed on capo http://www.maxwellplace.demon.co.uk/pandemonium/guittar.html the capo is missing from this one but the holes are clearly shown.

And capos are a godsend.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 10:14 AM

Early flamenco guitars had screw on capos too. I have two shubbs, a Jim Dunlop, and a few traditional spanish tie on cejillas. The shubbs are the best by far, and can be operated with one hand only. Flamenco is generally played with a capo solely to lower the string action, the more string rattle from the guitar , the better some players like it.

                     The true path!


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Betsy
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 10:37 AM

Godsend !!!


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: The Beast of Farlington
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 10:55 AM

Godsend - they taste great


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 11:44 AM

Capo - cheating? If Richard Thompson uses them, that's good enough for me boyoh! (and he knows that Lowdens are the best geetars too).

Even Buddy Holly used one on his strat (and he wasn't a bad guitarist for a lad barely out of his teens).

Try playing Vincent Black Lightning without capoing at Fret 3 (including the famous Thompson riff of course)

Try getting another sound like dropped D tuning with capo on fret 7.

Try a "Colley" Capo, if you can find one (built on the G-clamp principle) - better than a Shubb 'cause the clamping pressure doesn't send the string pitch out - unless you over-tighten of course.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 11:54 AM

And Martin Simpson uses one (Shubb), as do Bert Jansch (shubb) and even Eric Himself (a Shubb on a Strat!). I use Shubbs, probably got four or five. I tried the trick of cutting the small vees for the two lower bass strings and it works okay but I cut the fifth string vee a bit deep, so I'll have to try again.

(In the UK, you can get replacement rubbers [ooh, er, missus!] from www.highlystrung.co.uk for £1 each).

Pete


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Big Mick
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 12:17 PM

This goes to a larger issue, that being the "right" way to do anything in folk music. Of course a capo is a godsend. Like Jed, it easier to play certain keys, and ease is important when one is playing for a living. These are tools we use, and they make it easier. It allows much more diversity in the sound you seek.

One of my prize positions is a 12 string capo that Rick Fielding compensated by cutting the grooves for me on a ramble Jed and I took to Toronto. Works like a champ and doesn't pull the other strings out.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: GLoux
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 12:29 PM

Doc Watson calls 'em cheaters. And uses 'em.

Good enough for me...

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 12:32 PM

There is no right way, only the easiest and most effective. If a capo helps, use one...


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Midchuck
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 01:24 PM

Both.

P.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Hand-Pulled Boy
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 03:23 PM

My wife bought me a capo but she still got pregnant.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Cluin
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 03:52 PM

Midchuck's right. They're both. Of course they're a cheat. So what? Whatever works for you.

If I wanted to play bar chords all the time, I'd have become a jazz player.

You can have my capo when you pry it out of my cold, cramped, arthritic fingers. Hell, I've even thrown a Shubb on my mandolin at times.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Once Famous
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 04:08 PM

I use exclusively Kyser quick change capos on guitar and banjo.

I knew a 5-string player who said that he would not use a capo because he wanted to "challange" himself with out one. Needles to say, when he had to play a song in Bb it sounded like crap.

A capo is a tool that enhances. You are proving nothing by not using one. You are not "cheating" anyone.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Cluin
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 04:12 PM

I knew a bass player who told me my guitar sounded a bit "duller" with a capo on it than open. Couldn't hear much difference myself, but maybe his ears were better than mine?

All I know is the guitar sounds better when it's played than when it's not.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: nager
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 04:23 PM

Andre Segovia, perhaps the world's greatest classical guitar player of the 20th century, used a capo for many of the pieces he performed.
A cheat? Somehow I don't think so. They are an integral part of guitar playing and many works could simply not be performed without one. Ask any classical guitar player.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 04:53 PM

Capos need no justification. Whoever invented them was onto a good thing. Same goes for picks, thumbpicks, tuners, and so on...

The Shubb remains my favorite capo.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: DADGBE
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 12:15 PM

Capos are useful if your technique uses open strings and not useful if you use closed positions, but the real issue is snobbery. A snob will find a way to put down other folks. Any reason will do in a pinch for a poor, threatened snob.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Marion
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 06:27 PM

The use of tools: it's what separates us from the animals.


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Subject: RE: Capo. Cheat or godsend?
From: Cluin
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 06:33 PM

Yep. Watch the pink-assed baboons struggling to play a tune in Ab with out a capo. Pffffff... they'll never master an arpeggiated F#9th chord with a pull-off on the Ab.


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