How to use a Capo

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“Hello. My name is Shannon, & I use a capo.”

GROUP RESONSE: “Hello Shannon!”

I admit it – there was a time I looked down on “Capo Users”. I’ve gotten hand-cramps for the sake of my glorious anti-capo-dom. I’ve forced complex songs into simpler keys, far outside my sweet-spot vocally, to massage my ego & not use a capo.  I’ve played chord-shapes that don’t ideally befit the riff/hook for the sake of being that guy who’s “better than the capo users.”  Yes, on rare occasions I used a capo, but only on open tuned guitars – the fact that I once had 4 guitars on stage, 3 of which were in alternate tunings, gave me enough “cool points” to counteract the evil capo – sorta like buying “Carbon Credits”.

Then, back in ‘03, I saw Shane & Shane live.  Those guys have MASTERED the guitar, and they’re capo maniacs: capos upon capos – cut capos inserted at odd angles into other cut capos. That is when I realize that a capo is just a tool. Just like any tool, it has it’s purpose, and can also be misused.

So here’s a theory of Capo: don’t use it as a crutch to hide the fact that you only know 3 chords – that’s sad.  Granted, if you DO only know 3 chords, and you’re asked to lead worship somewhere, I’d rather you used a capo and play well than not use one and be a distraction. However, let your goal be to learn the real chords, & use them when it sounds good.  However, some songs only sound ‘right’ with certain chord shapes on the guitar, & a capo is how you get those shapes. For instance, playing a B, E, G#m, F#, & etc. on an acoustic has ‘thump’ on the low-end, but capo to the 4th fret, and play a G-shape, C9, Em7, & etc –  it creates a brightness, and a continuity in the changes (particularly on the high end) that can carry some songs well.

Therefore, I repent – or rather, I repented some time ago.  Use a capo, but not as a crutch – use it as a tool.  Use it to open up your guitar to tones that help you blend into an overall band setting, give brightness or weight to a progression, depending on the song’s ‘mood’, or even – as Shane & Shane do with cut capos – to significantly alter your guitar’s tuning in a flash (not just up a step, but from Standard, to open G, or drop D).  Used this way a capo can really open up the breadth of what your guitar is capable of.

Hello.  My name is Shannon, and I use a capo.
Shannon Lewis is “The Worship Community Guy“. Passionate about helping others respond to God, & training people who are passionate about the same, Shannon also blogs at SaintLewisMusic, where you can grab his free eBook, UNSEASONED: How to see Godly Growth in an Inexperienced Worship Team.



Shannon Lewis

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