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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: Using a Capo

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Bluegrass Guitar

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we jump into this batch of tunes a little
tech talk here.
I'm gonna discuss the capo and what it
And, and in my, my opinion, the best way
to kind of, kind of use it and
get the most out of it.
Capo essentially allows you to have access
to open strings in other keys.
That's kinda the basic, the basic job of
the capo, and there are different styles.
What I have, my capo here
a good shot from over above is a McKinney
style Elliot capo.
There's some different different
manufacturers that make capos of,
of this style that wrap around.
There's some that, that that use tension
to clamp, and, or, or
screws to clamp around the neck like this.
But it's all essentially the same, same
concept at work.
And for Bluegrass specifically what you'll
notice is the, the reason it's great,
you know, for flatpicking and Bluegrass,
if you've never.
Used one of these things before.
So we've, we've covered a lot of chords in
open position here so far.
And just by the use of the capo, it ows,
allows us access to, you know, three or
four times as many chords and to play in
that, in three or four times as many keys.
So basically the basic concept is,
is, a good place to start is the capo on
the second fret.
And what I like to do, if we can see from
I'll always double check it.
Get the capo as close to the fret as
We talked about way early on about making
solid notes with the left hand.
And fretting.
And the capo basically employs a lot of
that same kind of concept
where you want it as close to the fret as
possible, to get.
To get as clean of a note as possible.
I'll, I'll demonstrate it just a little
If you get it, lot people think,
well maybe if you put it in the middle of
the fret, but really.
You know the, the, it's buzzy.
And so, what you lo, what you want is to
get it tight.
One of the reens that, one of the reasons
I like this style of capo is that it
sorta completes, because of the wraparound
build of this thing and the,
the s, the thumbscrew that's central to
the back here.
[COUGH] it has a real even pressure on the
And this one's even a, arched just a
little bit for the, for
the for the fingerboard of the guitar.
And so it's a you know real high quality
kinda thing.
These are, these are fairly expensive as
capo's go, and
you can you know go into any music store
and find some, but I think,
and one of the things about Bluegrass and,
strong acoustic playing is that you wanna
have a capo that, that clamps fairly hard.
You don't, you don't want it to loosen up
in the middle of a, of a square dance,
I can tell you that.
And so you know, musically what's going on
here, we started, say,
we started in open G.
We have a capo on the second fret, and
just with, in all our scale theory that
we've talked about, the second degree of a
G scale is A.
We've moved up a whole step.
We moved up two steps.
And, so now our G chord is now an A chord.
But you also notice that.
It doesn't sound quite as in tune.
And one of the tricks about using a capo.
Especially in bluegrass.
You want to get it as close to the fret as
as you'll generally find that you hafta
maybe tweak around the tuning.
We discussed earlier, we're all staying
around 440 with our tuning here.
And some, I,
I mentioned that sometimes you need to get
the second string a little bit flat.
And, this is one of the reasons why, as.
When you put on a capo,
it's just because it adds extra tension
that the, the scale is a little shorter,
some of these things become a little more
And, so, it's just, as you add a, when you
put a capo on,
just double check your tuning.
And it's, it's, you know.
The more, again, we're talking about the
resonance of the box, and, and
the more in tune you can keep your guitar
the more solid your, your tone will be.
So that's you know basic, basic kind of
talk about the capo.
A couple of tunes we're gonna get into
will utilize a capo.
We'll be playing the key of A out of the G
And and so that's, you know, something to
be aware of.
And if you don't have a capo now you can
go get one, and this is what I recommend.
But again, there's, there's lots of
different styles to that you can buy.