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Capos vs. Staying in Tune vs. Action?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by mild, Jun 10, 2006.

  1. mild

    mild Member

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    Hey guys, got an interesting one for you:

    I was wondering - why is it that Capo's play with the tuning of your guitar so much? I was playing in church this morning, and had to capo up and down for a few songs. Because we are big on "seamless" song changes, I don't really have a lot of time to stop and tune, especially during the first couple of more 'up-tempo' songs.

    Over the last year, this has been noticeable, but not a problem... Not GREAT, but ok - I've never noticed toooo much of an "out of tune-ness" from capo'ing up... however, just recently, I got my guitar re-setup, and I can tell you, this action is now loooow as - and I love it!

    But now when I put my capo on, it requires an entire retune to make it sound passable! So here are my questions:

    1) Is there a correlation between a low action, and capo's stuffing up your tuning?

    2) Would a lower action, is a guitar more likely to go out of tune?

    3) (This is a good one) Where on the fret do you place your capo, and why?

    Please help me out - I'd love to be able to play confidently - wincing as you can hear a flailing "b" string going south is no fun at all. :(

    Lollipops and puppies...
    Jono
     
  2. cliffc8488

    cliffc8488 Member

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    I don't think low action has much to do with it. What gauge strings? The lighter the more likely the capo will pull it out of tune. I put my capo as close to the fret as comfortable. The closer to the fret the less it pushes the strings down and detunes things. Also, when putting the capo on, let it touch the back of the neck first and then slowly let it touch the strings so that it doesn't pull the strings sideways.

    I've gotten so I don't need to retune when using a capo. Tunings not perfect but very close.

    CC
     
  3. JKoeth

    JKoeth Supporting Member

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    Take a look at the frets themselves too. If the fretwire is worn down unevenly, which will happen over time, a fret level or dress may be an order.
     
  4. teleking36

    teleking36 Supporting Member

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    i wasn't a firm believer in "the better the capo, the less likely of a re-tuning."

    but my opinions have changed since yesterday.

    i picked up a G7th capo at GC the other day and it has made a world of difference. my tele's action is set fairly low, and i'm using 10-46s. with my quick-change kyser, some of the strings tend to go sharp on me. i think this has a lot to do with the amount of pressure being forced on the neck, and how you position the capo.

    this G7th capo doesn't even seem like it's clamping the strings down, but it works incredibly IMO. i guess the magic behind these is that they're supposed to be "tensionless" capos, meaning no excessive pressure on your neck and/or on the strings. i'll have to give it a run-around with my acoustic, but it seems like a sure winner in my book.
     
  5. mild

    mild Member

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    As far as strings are concerned, I have just started using .10's-.46's - that is what the guitar was setup for by my local tech. Used to use .11's and sometimes .12's, and this IS a Tele thinline, so it does feel pretty light on the fretboard...!

    Cool - this is good to know. It HAS just had a full leveling job done on it though, along with the setup - so the frets are fine...

    Right, ok! I may just do some testing with that then. Please let me know how you get on with your acoustic. I tried a G7th just the other week and liked it a lot. I thought if my current Kyser ever got pinched, I'd pick one up... but your making me wonder if I shouldn't just ditch the kyser fullstop...
     
  6. Enjoyer

    Enjoyer Member

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    +1 on the G7th.

    I have been using a G7 capo for about 6 months now always set as close to the fret as possible. Brilliant design, very well made and no de-tuning issues at all - even when using the trem bar on my Jazzmaster strung with 12's. Works well on my acoustic and my Tele too.
     
  7. cbpickin

    cbpickin Tweed Supporting Member Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm a fan of the Schubb capos. The rubber they use seems to help with pulling strings sharp. It is soft enough, it seems like the strings respond the same as a finger. Keeping it the right distance from the fret is key though, IMO. Not far from it, but not touching it either. I mostly use mine on my Historic '61 SG to go from open G to A and D to E. If I don't have the tension set on the Schubb, I sometimes have to take it off, adjust it and put it back on. I never have a problem on my acoustics though.
     
  8. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Fitting it the correct position relative to the fret is the key... I put it right next to the fret, with the edge of the capo pad along the back edge of the fret crown. Think about what the capo is doing - if it's further away it will bend the strings down into the space between the frets and pull them sharp. I wouldn't have thought the action by itself should make any difference - it's what happens after the strings are already down on the fret that causes tuning trouble. String gauge may be important though - light strings obviously get bent more easily.

    I use a Kyser - with 11s admittedly - and I never, ever have tuning problems with it. I have no idea why it seems to cause so much trouble for other people. It's the perfect capo, to me - no adjustment needed, one-hand operation, clamps easily on the end of the headstock when you're not using it.

    Of the popular 'quality' ones, the one I disliked the most was actually the Shubb - too fiddly to set for just the right tension to lock at different fret positions, and needs two hands. I put up with it for a couple of years because I'd always heard it was 'the best' but the minute I tried the Kyser I gave it away immediately.

    I also have a Dunlop Trigger (same basic idea as the Kyser) which I use on my 12-string because it just happens to fit the fingerboard curve more accurately, and the wider pad seems to help hold the thin strings better.

    I haven't tried the G7th... no need, the Kyser is perfect.

    Just my opinion.
     
  9. gtr777

    gtr777 Supporting Member

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    I've been using the Planet waves NS capo...excellent!! Just tighten until the strings ring clear and your set. It doesn't through the guitar out of tune like some capo's
     
  10. Joe Robinson

    Joe Robinson Gold Supporting Member

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    I capo a lot. A capo friendly guitar will not have super tall frets. For instance my Gretsch, my early eighties strat and my Les Paul all take to capo-ing very well. However on my Jeff Beck Sig which has frets on the larger side, but by no means the largest out there, applying the capo is a fairly precise operation, and has been well described by John Phillips above. So check your fret size and adjust accordingly. On smaller frets it does not seem to be much of an issue. I really like my Keyser capo, and my back up is a Shubb, from a sonic standpoint, I can't tell much of a differnce. The Keyser is easier to use.
     
  11. Den

    Den Member

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    IMHO, lower action would more likely result in helping your guitar stay in tune better as you capo ... because you're not pulling the strings as far from their normal positions.

    Aside from the other great advice offered, I would suspect that your intonation may be off. As you move further up the neck with a capo, strings that are not intonated properly will become more out of tune.

    Also, FWIW, I capo quite a bit on a number of different guitars and never have problems. I use a Planet Waves NS (fantastic capo) and set it right behind the fret with the edge of the capo rubber just touching the fret.
     
  12. longgonedaddy

    longgonedaddy Supporting Member

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    I went through three lower-end capos until I decided to buy this one. I don't think I'll ever buy another.
     
  13. threm

    threm Member

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    Many good points so far about placement etc.!

    I have Schubb, Kyser and G7 capos. In my experience thicker
    strings are much less demanding.

    With thinner strings the Schubb and G7 excell as you can
    fine tune just the right pressure needed.
     
  14. mild

    mild Member

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    Wow, I think I'm almost sold on that G7th... ;)

    Ok, so lets review - Action doesn't appear to have any correlation for whether a capo throws a guitar out of tune - but intonation does, and the tension of the capo on the string does - two things I need to be checking.

    In theory, placing the capo properly, and carefully should be able to negate much of my problem. I am going to test this, and i'll let you know how I get on.

    One thing that always sparks good debate, amongst my guitarist friends - and even in this thread - is placement of the capo - lots of theory's here, looks like the common one is as close to the fret as possible? Cool. That's always how I've done it... but some of my friends have tried to convince me that its better in the middle, or with a tiny gap, or ON the fret, etc etc... So good to get some more opinions! (Especially as they are by-and-large the same as mine! :D)

    Keep it coming! If you have a different way of placing a capo, or a new insight as to why you do what you do, I'd love to hear from you. A very educational thread so far!
     
  15. Gas-man

    Gas-man Unrepentant Massaganist

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    With the tele I have to put the capo ON the fret.

    I don't have to do this with the 335 or Taylor accrue-stick.
     
  16. 6789

    6789 Member

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    I never have trouble with my Schub. I place it near the fret. not on it and not in the middle between the frets.
     
  17. vorvick

    vorvick Member

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    "...with the edge of the capo pad along the back edge of the fret crown..."

    I think John is describing (above) how I use a capo - Kaiser, kind of halfway ON the fret. I can change capo positions quickly without going out of tune.
     
  18. James

    James Member

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    My experience has been that Shubb capos are much better than Kysers. The Kysers tend to squeeze the strings too hard and subsequently pull them sharp. My former guitar teacher hipped me to the Shubbs and I've been happy with them ever since. The key is 1) find the "right" tension to use on the Shubb's tightening wheel and 2) Correct placement on the neck; you want to get as close to the fret as possible and make sure it's straight, not slanted at all.

    all best,

    James
     
  19. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    I use the Keyser and the Shubb, often. Those capos are really well designed. That right there helps to eliminate the problem. As others do, I've learned to place the capo close to the fret. That also helps. The only other "tricks" I've learned are:
    • If you're using the Shubb (adjustable pressure), adjust it to clamp as lightly as possible to be secure. The extra clamping pressure can affect tuning.
    • Whatever capo I'm using, I place it gently in position, make sure it's parallel to the fret before clamping it on. This helps most of all. When I apply it too quickly, I'm usually torquing one end of the capo a bit away or towards to bridge. That little bit is all it takes to really mess up your tuning.
     

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