Capo lessons learned in Austin

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by MichaelK, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Everybody (well, almost) at the Folk Alliance conference in Austin was using partial capos. Mainly the 3-string type, but a few were also using the "Drop-D" type. Almost no one was using a Keyser Short Cut; those were almost all Shubb. In contrast, almost no one was using a Shubb "Drop-D' type; those were mostly Keyser. I had never really looked into using one at all, but now I was curious so I started asking these questions.

    1) How does the "short-cut" capo work?
    2) Why the drop-D capo? Why not just tune down the 6th string?
    3) Why is the Shubb 3-string partial capo preferred over the Kyser Short Cut, and why the Keyser drop-D over the Shubb?

    I know for many of you this is old news. For me it was a revelation. It's all
    so simple it's ridiculous.

    ANSWER 1)
    If you clamp strings 3, 4 & 5 at the 2nd fret, it's similar to having raised them one whole step (but not the same - more later). Therefore similar to having dropped strings 1, 2 & 6 a whole step. BINGO! - DADGAD one step higher (EBEABE).

    Turn the capo around and clamp strings 2, 3 and 4 on fret 2, and you have the equivalent of dropping strings 1, 5 & 6, TA-DA!! Open G, but one step up (open A). I mean think about it: it's just an "A" chord.

    ANSWER 2)
    What I didn't consider before this is that using partial capos doesn't change the tuning. In other words, if you throw two partial capos on a standard-tuned guitar, above the second capo it's still a standard-tuned guitar. All your barre chords, single-note lines, etc. can be played like nothing's changed.

    Now THAT sounded cool! I love DADGAD and open G, but always found them limiting in their simplicity because I couldn't play certain chords I heard. So I stopped by the Kyser booth at the expo (Shubb didn't have a booth there), where they were selling any capo for a flat $10 cash. I figured for that kind of money I wouldn't agonize over brand. I picked up a short-cut capo, clamped strings 3, 4 & 5 at fret 2, and within two hours had a new song. A nice one too, Celtic folderol when I wanted it and none when I didn't.

    ANSWER 3)
    Someone showed me how using the Shubb partial capo allowed one to fret the open strings behind the capo, while the Keyser design made it impossible. And he answered my last question by showing me how easily the Keyser Drop-D clamped into place without throwing off intonation or interfering with play space. He said the Shubb is less convenient for that particular thing, and though we didn't have one there I could see why.

    Finally, this same mensch showed me the new Shubb "deluxe" model 6-string capo with the little wheel, and how easy it was to move around the neck quickly - much easier than the standard Shubb - without throwing the intonation off at all. That did it, I was sold. First thing I did when I got back home to REAL internet access (as opposed to $10 a day slower than **** hotel internet access) was order a Shubb Deluxe 6-string, a Shubb partial, and a Keyser drop D. Till they arrive, I'm digging the hell out of this short-cut!!
     
  2. stratofied

    stratofied Member

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    Good info, thanks for the tips.
     
  3. A440

    A440 Silver Supporting Member

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    great info. in past, I had experimented with my std Kyser doing partial capo on 1-5 and leaving low E open, etc. I first started hearing about this yrs ago. I think Hedges, David Wilcox and others were cutting up/slotting their capos in order to accomplish the same thing.

    definite advantage in not having to retune all the time.

    glad to hear it inspired a new tune. I'll have to pull out my Adrian Legg alt tuning video :)
     
  4. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    It's not really an alternative to tuning. Still gives a new feel, and opens up some new doors. It's more of a way to make different voicings more fingerable, or make certain nites simultaneously available. It's still advantageous to tune out in some circumstances, though occasionally, I will place my capo to leave the high or low E string open.
    As far as people doing the partial capo thing go, what do you think of Harvey Reid? Neat stuff, eh? No David Wilcox, but he was the first guyy I ever saw doing it.
     
  5. MVrider

    MVrider Member

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  6. Frankenstrat2

    Frankenstrat2 Member

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    Hmm
    Got me wondering how some of those ideas might work for slide where I want to go from natural to G tuning (or A) and E tuning (or D).
    Might have to check this out.
    I haven't been a capo guy since my folkie days waaaaay back when.
     
  7. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    It will only change the chord you get when you play open. Anywhere you play on the neck stays the same.

    Capos don't change the tuning.
     
  8. Frankenstrat2

    Frankenstrat2 Member

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    :confused:
     
  9. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I've been doing a lot of writing with a partial capo recently. Using at the second fret is natural, but move it around the neck, as well.

    I have a new tune that puts the capo at the sixth fret on the A, D, and G strings. I can do lots of interesting things playing both above and below the capo. I also have the start of a tune that puts the capo at the ninth fret on the D, G, and B strings.

    Bryan
     
  10. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    OK, look... if you bar an "E" chord at the 5th fret, you get an "A," right?

    Now put a capo on the 2nd fret, and bar an "E" at the 5th fret. You still get an "A."

    Now put a full capo across the 1st fret, a partial "drop-D" capo across five strings on the 2nd fret, a partial capo across three strings on the 4th fret...

    ...and bar an "E" at the 5th fret. You still get an "A." You haven't changed the tuning.

    Now actually de-tune a few strings and try any of the above... THAT's changing the tuning.

    Ya dig? ;)
     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I'd be interested to hear it some time. If not now, whenever.
     
  12. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    I was glad when Keyser started making the Drop-D capo; I'd been cutting my own for a couple years and it's a lot easier to buy a ready-made product sometimes than make your own. I've since passed mine on to my singer, she loves it and we use it for a few songs. Cool stuff.

    --chiba
     
  13. Frankenstrat2

    Frankenstrat2 Member

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    Now I do.
    I'm going to re-explore the Variax/Toolbox/Vetta thing where I can program tuning changes, guitars, amps, fx, etc. etc. and have it all change with the tap of a footswitch. It might be cool if it played for me too- like a player piano, but then again....what fun is that?
     
  14. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    Absolutely. I haven't recorded it yet, but I'll put up an mp3 when I get around to it. It is still a work in progress, but I'm having a lot of fun with it.

    Bryan
     
  15. MVrider

    MVrider Member

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    Not sure what you meant to say, but just to clarify for anyone not so familiar with capos.. FULL capos don't change the tuning, or more correctly, don't change the relative pitch between strings. PARTIAL capos DO change the tuning as they work on some but not all strings OR affect some strings differently than others. Again, just to clarify and keep it clear for those not familiar with tunings, etc.
     
  16. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    No, they really don't. See above, I said exactly what I meant to say as clearly as I could.
     
  17. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Just one word of advice from a friend of mine who tours with a Variax: she said that with the alternate tunings, she needs to either use headphones or have her monitors up pretty high (she does acoustic-level gigs), because the ambient sound from the standard-tuned guitar confuses the crap out of her.
     
  18. MVrider

    MVrider Member

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    Thanks, Michael. I stand corrected. I was trapped into thinking about open strings vs caped strings. I now realize the capo really has no effect once the strings are fretted. Never used one, so I didn't visualize this right away..
     
  19. g-nem

    g-nem Member

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