A capo is a wonderful thing
A capo is a clamp with which you can change the pitch of the opening.
guitar strings, simply by placing the clamp behind different frets
on the fretboard. With a capo, you can change the key of any song.
very easily. I love wearing a bonnet, for a number of reasons.
What I do most with acoustic guitar is play the violin of yesteryear.
money. Many violin melodies are played by violinists in the keys of A
and D. However, when playing these melodies on a guitar, they sound
the best, and most easily played, on the G and C keys. Now
say you wanted to play with a violinist who wanted to play
“Black-eyed Susie” in the key of D. I would like to alternately
play backup for him while the protagonist played, and then play the protagonist
on the guitar while he backed me up on the violin. All I need
do to accommodate your key (D), but play with the same fingering
I am used to (in the key of C), is to place a capo behind the
second freight of the fretboard. Then we’d be playing on the key
of D, but I would use the fingering I always use when I play in
the key of C without the bonnet. If I was playing in the key of A, I
I could keep the capo on the second fret and play the tune like I had
I learned it in G.
By using the capo, you can more easily play with musicians who play in
keys that are different than what you are used to. However, I
I like to use the capo (usually behind the second fret and sometimes
behind the fourth fret) even when I play guitar alone.
One reason is that the higher pitch allows the separation of the
individual notes so they are heard more clearly. Every note seems to ring
a little sharper and more distinctive than it would on the bottom
pitch. Another virtue of using a capo is ease of playing. Tea
the higher the fretboard you use the capo, the shorter the distance between
each fret, so your fingers don’t have to stretch as much. And the
action becomes slightly lower, so strings are easier to press
down. And you don’t have to put the capo on the fretboard to
Feel the difference. Simply placing the capo behind the second fret
results in noticeably easier playback.
It is important to mention a caveat. Do not leave the capo in the
instrument when you are not playing it. The bonnet, when attached to the neck,
holds the strings on the fingerboard and creates additional tension
on the neck and top of the guitar. All acoustic guitars are
destined, at some point, to have problems due to the
string tension. Why rush the process by leaving a bonnet
stuck on your guitar?
As for the best nut to use, there are several different types.
I used to wear the type that is a barbell with an elastic belt that is
adjustable. In recent years, I have discovered that Shubb’s boss is the
better. It is easy to use and holds fast and tight behind any
transport. Check with your local guitar dealer and determine what it is
the best for you.
The capos make things much easier for the guitarist and provide
lots of benefits. If you’ve never used a bonnet, you owe it to
yourself to experiment with one!
Copyright © 2007 Lee Griffith. All rights reserved.