View Full Version : Capo Capers?

01-16-2017, 07:57 PM
I bought a capo the other day and was fooling with it on my baritone. I had a surprise when I heard the effect it made as I shifted it from 1-2-3-4-5th frets and played a g-c-d pattern in each fret. A lot of fun and made me appreciate the notes regardless of chord shape.

Now I've had a elastic band capo for years but it is such a pain to put on and move that I never fooled with it much. This new spring clamp one is easy to change and fast to move.

I can see the utility of it for a baritone but is it all that useful on a tenor, concert, or soprano?

01-16-2017, 08:00 PM
It only really works on the first few frets. I've used one down to the third fret, but beyond that, it gets a bit pointless.

01-16-2017, 09:41 PM
Yep. Not a fan of a capo on Tenor concert or soprano ukes.

01-16-2017, 10:04 PM
For personal performance purposes I find a capo gets in the way too much to be really useful.

For playing chords along with some pre-recorded music or other performance, or to "get the feel of a tune", it can be invaluable, especially if the music is in an "awkward" key ... think strumming A-chord shapes when someone is singing in Bb, for example :music:

01-17-2017, 01:35 AM
A capo just gets in the way too much on a Soprano, so (similarly to kypfer) I only occasionally use a capo briefly to match the key of a tune which I'm getting a feel for, or in an emergency if I need to play something in D tuning (to make the lowest notes singable) but only have my C tuned soprano on me.

Traditionally there are two preferred solutions for Soprano players. One is to re-tune down or up as necessary. Another (which amounts to the same thing really) is to keep two or more instruments in different tunings. Personally I have three sopranos tuned to C, D and Eb, and a sopranino tuned to F. George Formby was reputed to have travelled with a large collection of ukulele banjos in different tunings so he could use his trick strum in whatever key the band was playing.

01-17-2017, 04:11 AM
Interesting to hear your comments.

I guess I never thought much about capos, (though I've had one for years,) because I've only recently been playing with others and even more recently started to sing. I never sang because I was terrible at it, but my neighbor got me to try and after four or five months, I started to get better and enjoy it.

I play mostly first position and getting the baritone gave me an appreciation of key/cleft change. I had always thought "just play in a different key" until I tried to transpose a song. I'm such a neophyte that while I intellectually understood what key change was, I didn't really hear the auditory reality until I was able to demonstrate it the other day.

When I first thought about playing Ukulele I put my capo on the fifth fret of my guitar to see what it would sound like, but the capo got in my way and it was soon after that, that I plunged into the Ukulele pool. I'm glad I did though, as it gave me a chance to to actually play and learn about music. I just wish I had gotten a baritone in 1966 instead of a guitar. I never got very far with the guitar. I haven't actually gotten very far with the Ukulele in the 22 months I've been playing one.

01-17-2017, 05:50 AM
I don't capo often but I find the capo invaluable. I once heard a uke leader say capoing was cheating and just lazy, which I thought was just a ridulous thing to say. I can transpose in my head fairly quickly but there are many reasons why sometimes capoing makes sense. Just last night I was backing up a singer who wanted to be in Bb. Without any chance to practice, it's easier to capo for odd keys. Other times you are unfamiliar with a tune and you are playing along with guitar players who are capoed and its just makes sense to capo and read the chords off their fingers. Sometimes, I just like the chord voicings and don't want to change them by transposing. Sometimes, it's just so much easier to play in a particular key but not easy to sing. It's not that I don't know the chords in the other key but sometimes there is an economy of motion in a particular key and if you change the key you find yourself chasing the chords all over the fretboard. These are just a few of the reasons I always have a capo handy (G7 perf-quick on/off). I don't know why there is some shaming involved in uke capoing. It certainly doesn't exist in the guitar world.

Jim Hanks
01-17-2017, 06:36 AM
A capo is just another tool in the toolbox, good for some things, not so good for others. Lazy? Darn right! :p

01-17-2017, 04:01 PM
I should add that I usually play Bari so a capo is less annoying. The smaller the scale, the more problematic. Certainly some chords are hard to play without bumping into the capo. But it's still a useful tool on occasion.