How To Use a Guitar Capo?

If you have been playing an acoustic guitar for quite some time and you haven’t used a guitar capo, I swear you are missing out on something very essential. Even though you don’t feel the need of using one especially if you’re into rock or heavy metal kind of music, once you play a lot on an acoustic guitar, you’ll see the need for it.

Capos are a device that serves as a floating nut of a guitar in order for you adjust the pitch of the strings uniformly. It allows you to play songs in different keys, to blend with the range of the singer or accommodate certain fingering techniques.

Usually, a capo is made out of a hard strip of material-either rubber or plastic, which is clamped at the neck of your guitar in the position of your liking. For example, if you put your capo on the first fret of your guitar, every chord will play a half step up.

The A chord will be an A# or a Bb and the E minor will now be an F minor. Now, if you put the capo in the 4th fret, everything now is four half steps or two whole steps. The C chord becomes an E, and the A minor becomes a C# minor.

In order for you to better get the grasp of what I am talking about, here is a helpful illustration of the basic chord transposition when you use a capo.

3 Important Techniques When Using a Guitar Capo

Using a capo doesn’t come with detailed instructions. However, in order to upgrade your potential as a guitar player, I have come with three important capo techniques you need to know.

Personally, I look up to anyone who knows how to play at least one musical instrument and playing a guitar is no exception. But, imagine if you’re one of those people who rock at playing one of the riffs in the song with a Capo on. It will surely make everyone think you’re a pretty excellent guitarist and therefore, gain all the benefits of having friends and receiving that kind of respect at a jam session.

The best of all is, you don’t even have to do anything extra flashy or difficult to get their attention. That’s all because a capo means more than just changing the key of the song.

So without further delays, here are the three easy techniques that will make more jams fun, easy and will raise your reputation in the perspective of other musicians.

Technique 1. Remember the word “C, A, G, E, D”

If you don’t know this concept, this is probably one of the greatest moments in your acoustic journey. This concept is very easy to remember as “C, A, G, E, D” is the progression of the chords in a logical fashion as you move up the fret boards.

So if you want to play the C chord, you can play it using the A chord formation while the Capo is on the 3rd fret. You can also use the G chord formation when Capo is on the 5th fret, E chord formation using the Capo on the 8th fret or a D chord formation placing the Capo at the 12th fret.

Likewise, this also applies when you want to play the G chord, then you just use the progression “G, E, D, C, A”, or an E by using the progression “E, D, C, A, G”. Basically, that’s all you need in order to play most of the acoustic jams. If you’d like to know more, read about CAGED system on Google.

Technique 2. Capo Creates Dynamics

Knowing how to use dynamics while playing guitar is as important as Chording, Arpeggiating, Shredding etc. Because you will surely sound silly if you lack in this aspect. This technique is super fun and easy as you can learn it by yourself.

So, the next time you’re with friends jamming on a song, set your Capo on and use CAGED so you’ll be playing a different chord formation than your friends. Then, experiment with strumming, finger picking etc. and just listen around and you’ll realize that the song is way much better because of the Capo.

You can also do this when you are playing a song by yourself. Trying a different chord formation following CAGED system can often make the song sound different but better.

Technique 3. Upside down Capo Trick

I have been using this third technique mostly in my jam sessions and this opens many dynamic possibilities every time I use this in my performances. All you have to do is to place your Capo from the high E string side, covering the entire strings but not the low E.

This way, you’ll be able to play the “E” key using the D chord formation and it will sound like the drop D tuning. And once you fret the low E string using your fingers while using the “G” chord formation, your guitar will play a standard tuned sound from the drop D tuning.


Nevertheless, these are just a few suggestions and tricks you can try. But the best of all is play and practice as much as possible and you’ll acquire new tricks about using Capos yourself.

Audio Loli