Mixdown’s Guide To: Using A Capo

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Mixdown’s Guide To: Using A Capo


The capo is a device that allows you to change where the nut is on your guitar. This enables you to play open or first position chords in different keys. Which means playing with open position fingerings and chord formations in the key of your choice. Plus there’s that sweeter, brighter tone.


Classic rock anthems such as The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ (Capo 7), The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’ (Capo 7), Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ (Capo 2), and Tom Petty’s ‘Free Fallin’’ (Capo 1, Capo 3) all make use of the handy device.


An issue with using a capo, though, can be putting it on. Often a capo will tug at the strings and when used incorrectly, can result in pulling the guitar out of tune. This is a major issue when it comes to playing live, with the need to move the capo between each song a recipe for disaster.


The answer is placement. If you place the capo on the neck with space between it and the fret, the strings are going to be adversely stretched. The key is to set the capo just behind the fret, but not on it, otherwise it will deaden the strings. It’s in the perfect position when the edge of the capo is placed right on the back half of the fret.


As is the case with all techniques, practice makes perfect. But once you can replicate this position with ease, playing with a capo will become synonymous with placing in tune.