Capo and the effect on sound

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VikingBlues
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Capo and the effect on sound

Post by VikingBlues »

In the many years I've enjoyed this forum I've occasionally used a capo. Other than it changing the pitch of the sound I've not paid much attention other than did it keep the strings in tune and did the strings play clearly with no buzzing.

So fast forward to this recent bout of mine of acoustic playing and Celtic tunes in particular. I've recently started to learn a piece called "Roslin Castle" and the arrangement had a capo at fret 5. I used my Kyser quick change capo on the TW73 parlour acoustic. What a HUGE difference it made to the sound of the guitar - very noticeably affecting balance and sustain and the guitar sound lost a great deal of its vibrancy. I then tried the Spider Capo with all its legs down (I don't have any other standard capos) and this was better overall on sustain and lower notes but not so good on higher notes and still not as good overall as the guitar sound with no capo.

A mix of the lower notes with the spider capo and higher notes with the Kyser would be a better mix if it wasn't impossible to do. So I tried the Kyser and Spider on the TW45 (also Tanglewood, also Cedar & Mahogany, but folk size instead of Parlour) .... and neither capo make much difference to the sound.

So I suppose there is something going on with the interaction of scale length, capo materials, resonances of the soundboard. Seems like the TW73 is more sensitive. Maybe ties in with the way it sounds more alive tuned down to Open G or Open D than at standard tuning while the TW45 is less affected. However the TW73 has the much better sound of the two when in its preferred tunings.

I've just found out that the capo was used in the arrangement mainly because the guitar they had for playing the tunes sounded particularly good with a capo at 5 on this tune. Interestingly the guitar was made by a builder who specifically tests out his guitars with a capo at various places on the neck to make sure the guitar still sings well. I don't think this is a test the major manufacturers probably bother with much on major production models!

Anyway I was wondering if anyone here has had similar issues / oddities with capos and acoustics? Or indeed with electrics? :icon_whoknows:

There are some capos I should be able to get to try in a few months - the acoustic forum I'm also on is having a "road trip" round some of the members of some capos for review and evaluation. I'm hoping one of them might suit the TW73 better. :fingerscrossed:
An improv a day keeps the demons at bay!
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12bar
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Re: Capo and the effect on sound

Post by 12bar »

I've never really used capos, although I have a simple one. I know that in folk, flamenco and sometimes even in Blues music they are used, some rock guitar players use them, even EC lately, but I never found that the sound was improved by it.
However, together with open or special tunings some songs (mainly acoustic) are only playable with a capo (like FM's Never going back again), they sound different if played with barre chords.
Good luck for your search! BTW - the Wikipedia article on capos is not bad.
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HalfBlindLefty
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Re: Capo and the effect on sound

Post by HalfBlindLefty »

I use a simple "quick clamping" type every now and then.
Can't say I think I will ever use them much.
I stil have a 30 y/o capo to here. the U-shape with a rotatable bar on top. Only use that when I need to secure all strings when working on the guitar.
A long time ago, in the old forum : Registered: Mon, 27 Nov 2006. Wonder were the other old members all went....
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VikingBlues
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Re: Capo and the effect on sound

Post by VikingBlues »

I hardly used a capo for the last ** (too many) years - certainly little need for them in the sort of music I'd been playing on electric the last 6 years. When I did use a capo it just didn't seem to have an effect on an electrics tone quality.

But it seems they are much more commonly used in the acoustic Celtic music, and in the altered / open tuning pieces I'm exploring. I've had feedback that a lot of players of this sort of music have issues with the effect a capo has on sound - in some cases an acoustic with a bit of an unbalanced over-resonant sound can be tamed and improved with a capo it seems.

Acoustic guitars just seem to be much more complex beasts for sound production - I'm convinced that the TW73 sounds better when tuned down to Open G or Open D at least partly due to the lowered tension letting the body / soundboard resonate in a better way than in standard tuning. The TW73 just seems extra sensitive on this issue ... I guess it's the price to pay for it sounding so damn good when played without a capo. :roll:

I'll maybe need to just bite the bullet and pay extra for a high quality capo at some point - but I'll wait till I've got to try the G7th sample capos in the "road trip".
An improv a day keeps the demons at bay!
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Strummer07
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Re: Capo and the effect on sound

Post by Strummer07 »

Capo's and particularly the different styles, seem to be pretty much a personal taste thing.

Personally I am not a fan of the old style Elastic band Clamping version as its just too fiddly

Some folk swear by the Keyser Clamp and you can pop it on the headstock and look cool when yr not using it) and some people dislike them intensely (on the basis that the spring is not adjustable and it can be quite easy to stick the Capo on and put the tuning well out - sharp).. looks impressive maybe and OK if you're gigging perhaps ..as you know where to find it !! :D

I have a Kyser Capo ..but don't use it a lot as I find it gets in the way of my fretting hand a bit more than the smaller Capo's

The Shubb Capo's are adjustable so you can remedy this ..so I've tended to god this route. (G7 capos also good)

Personally I like Capo's a lot as its easy to change the key, and with a Capo on the guitar sounds different .. get a Capo on at the 7th or 8th fret and you've got a lovely jangle top end sound going on

Try playing Hotel California in Open chord Position ..Bm / F# /A / E /G / D / Em etc ) and then...
Compare it with a capo at the 7th fret version (chords Em / B7/D/A/C/G/Am /B7 ..)

Which, I am led to believe is how the Eagles did it originally )and the sound is totally different.

I have just bought a Shubb "Partial Capo".. a C7b version which capo's only strings 5, 4 and 3 .. and when put of the 2nd fret gives you a DADGAD sound ....great tuning ...although it is of course strictly speaking EBEABE but you don't have to retune at all

I am still searching for some DADGAD Chords .......so if anyone knows a good source for chords for DADGAD or EBEABE tunings ..I'd be interested. :thumbsup:

Viva La capo !
"Death is just a heartbeat away"
lyric from "Out in The Fields"
Gary Moore 1952-2011
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