How to Use a Capo — The Right Way!
If you’ve ever wondered what a capo is and how to use it properly, then read on!
A capo is a device that clamps onto a guitar (or another fretted instrument, i.e. bass guitar, mandolin, banjos, etc.) to raise the pitch of whatever is being played.
To place the capo, clamp it down right behind the fret you wish to use—almost sitting on it, but never directly on it. Be careful not to deaden the strings and make sure to check the tuning after you attach the capo on and after you take it off, as it might have changed the tuning slightly.
Using a capo can help you play songs you already know in different keys. Each fret is a half step, so if you want to play “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas in the key of E, instead of C, you place the capo on the fourth fret (E is four half steps away from C), and play with C shapes. Alternately, if you have a song with more advanced chords that you want to learn, most of the time you can tranpose the chords to fit your skill level. For example: “Maps” by Maroon 5 is originally in the key of A major, you can capo it on the fourth fret and play F shapes, which tranposes the C# minor chord to an A minor chord. It will still be in the same key as the original with the capo on this fret, but you can move it to change the key to fit differing vocal ranges.
Capos are great for easily changing the keys of songs, creating a brighter sound, or to create a different sound with two guitars. However, don’t let a capo keep you from challenging yourself and learning more difficult chords and different chord positions!