One question I’ve heard come up a couple of times now is regarding the use of guitar capos, and whether or not the use of a guitar capo constitutes ‘cheating’.
That is a valid question, and one that may be particularly important for beginners, who may fear that using a capo somehow makes them less of a guitarist, or someone that should be looked down upon.
But is that actually the case? Let’s look into this a little bit deeper.
Fundamentally, What Are Capos For?
More than anything, capos are a tool. And just like any tool, they have a specific set of cases that make them useful. Some of these may include:
- Making it easier to play chords with open strings, that would otherwise have to be barred (without the capo.)
- Changing the timbre of a chord.
- Reducing the distance between frets when playing certain chords, making them easier to play.
- Granting yourself to play a song in different keys, without having to relearn a new set of chords or transpose on the fly. This is particularly useful when playing live, as singers commonly like to change the key to fit their voice.
As you can imagine, some of these are quite important.
Can you get by without using a capo? In most cases, yes.
However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.
While relying on a capo to avoid developing your skill further may hinder you in the long run, avoiding the use of a very valuable tool just because it makes things easier is silly.
After all, you wouldn’t avoid using a pick just because it can help you strum faster, and you wouldn’t avoid using a guitar strap because it helps you hold the guitar easier.
Ultimately, what matters most is the sound you get out of your instrument, and the performance you put on for your audience.
And let’s be real – they certainly won’t care.
Still Worried? Check This Out
When it comes to any skill, there will always be people out there who have the need to feel superior to others, and this may manifest itself in weird ways.
Despite that, nobody really considers guitarists any less of a musician by using a capo, even in circumstances where you’re using it as a crutch. There are certainly topics within guitar culture that can cause some heated debate, but the use of a capo in all honesty isn’t really one of them.
Therefore, if you’re a beginner, there is no need to feel shame by embracing the use of your capo.
Even professional guitarists use capos when recording and performing their own music.
I would be hard-pressed to find anyone playing ‘Here Comes The Sun’ without a capo on. This wasn’t the only Beatles song that utilized a capo either – George Harrison would even put a capo on his Rickenbacker electric guitar at times.
And if it’s good enough for The Beatles, it’s good enough for me.
What Capo Do We Recommend?
Although most would agree that you can never have too many capos (it is way too easy to lose the darn things), it is usually a better idea to invest in one high-quality capo than a bunch of cheap ones.
Unless you plan to do some sort of crazy performance like this one, I suppose:
Anyhow, one capo I can’t recommend highly enough is the G7th Performance 3.
It’s designed to naturally fit all guitars (both acoustic and electric) and has adjustable tension. I’ve never had a problem with it applying equal pressure across all strings, and you don’t have to constantly move it around to get it to hold all of them down.
I’ve used G7th capos for years on a wide variety of guitar necks – Stratocasters, Les Pauls, and a large number of acoustics. I’ve never had a problem with any of them, and if I were buying my first capo today it would definitely be that one.
You can grab it from Sweetwater here.
Capos are a very valuable tool that every guitarist should have.
Although they aren’t strictly necessary and may be used less frequently once you’re knowledge of chords grows, you will always want to have one around. Nobody should ever look down on you for using a capo, and even professionals still use them when they are needed.
While you should always continue to push your limits to further build your skill, embrace the capo for the value it holds!