What is a Capo Used For on Guitar?

What is a capo on guitar use for?

Ever wonder what a capo is and whether you should be using one on acoustic guitar? Well, look no further. Below you’ll learn exactly what a capo is, how to use it, what to use it for, and other common capo questions relating to the guitar. Let’s get started by looking at what a capo is.

What is a Guitar Capo?

A capo is a device that musicians place on the neck of a stringed instrument to transpose and shorten the playable length of the strings—hence raising the pitch. Guitarists use capos quite frequently, especially acoustic guitarists.

There are many different styles of capos, but here’s a popular example that you’ll probably recognize (and one that I recommend picking up off Amazon):

A Capo (on Amazon) can help you easily move chords up and down the fretboard

What is a Capo Used For on Guitar?

So what’s the point of a capo? It is often used by guitarists to play songs using open chords instead of having to use barre chords.

If that sounds confusing, it will make more sense with an example. Consider a song like “Into White” by Cat Stevens. You can see in the video below that I’m playing it using a capo:

You’ll see that the chords being used are largely open G, C, D, and E chords. However, the capo is on the 2nd fret, so even though I am using those simple open chord shapes, the chords are actually different. They are now: A, D, E, and F#, respectively (every shape is raised a whole step, since the capo is on the 2nd fret.)

That’s really what a capo is used for. It allows you to use familiar, beautiful open chords all over the neck to play songs that are in different keys, by simply moving the capo around rather than having to move barre chords all over the neck.

It makes sense that the capo is so popular with acoustic guitarists, then, as the acoustic guitar is known for its beautiful tone when used for playing open chords specifically.

Where Can I Learn How to Play Guitar with a Capo?

The best way to learn how to use a capo is by simply getting yourself a capo (link to my favorite on Amazon) and starting to experiment with it. Play a few of your favorite songs that use open chords in different positions on the neck. This will change their key. This can be especially helpful if you sing, as you can easily move a song’s chords up and down to best suit your voice.

You can also watch helpful youtube videos like the following for more specific tips on how to use a capo on the guitar:

What’s the Best Capo for Guitar?

As with many things, when looking for the best capo I advise you to look for quality. I’ve bought cheap capos in the past to save a few bucks and they break or don’t evenly clamp across the strings. It’s worth it to spend for a quality capo that will last you a lifetime.

I personally like these Schubb Steel Capos, which you can check out on Amazon by clicking the image below:

Get Yourself a CAPO (on Amazon) to easily move these chords up and down the fretboard

I bought ONE of these capos like, 10 years ago, and still use the same one to this day. They last forever and do a great job, and are small enough to put in your pocket if you’re going to a gig or to jam with friends.

Can You Use a Capo on Electric Guitar?

Capos are less common to see on an electric guitar, but you can certainly use them.

One guitarist famous for his capo use on his electric guitar was the blues player Albert Collins. He’s actually one of my favorite blues guitarists. You can see his signature set up (playing with a capo high up on his telecaster) in the video below:

Got More Guitar Questions?

Looking for more help learning the guitar? The following articles can help you out:

Ready to Get Better at Guitar, Faster?

Whenever you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, check out a few of my favorite resources below:

The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings – A unique polymer coating makes these guitar strings last for months or even years at a time, making for an exceptional value. They provide the perfect mix of boom, range, twang, and brightness that acoustic music is known for. — CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

The Best Acoustic Guitar – Beloved by everyone from Paul Simon to Gordon Lightfoot, the Martin D-18 is one of Martin’s most legendary guitars ever… It’s an excellent, premier quality acoustic guitar for bluegrass, country, folk, rock and more. This is also what I play myself — CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

Chords, Tabs & Video Lessons for 100 Epic Songs – This free guide that I created for fellow guitarists gives you chords, tabs, and video lessons for the 100 best songs to learn on guitar… I spent many hours putting this guide together to help you get better at guitar, faster. — CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE

Fingerpicking vs Flatpicking Guitar – Learn which picking style is right for YOU by exploring examples, history, and popular players of each style. Discover essential techniques and pros and cons of each approach. — CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE

Corbin Buff

Corbin has played guitar for over a decade, and started writing about it on Acoustic World in an effort to help others. He lives and writes in western Montana.

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