Capos are essential pieces of gear for helping you get that coveted open-chord sound up and down the fretboard. But in learning how to use capos effectively, one thing that is often overlooked is how they affect the guitar’s tuning.
Capos will typically force your strings to go a bit sharp, and the further up the neck you place the capo, the worse the pitch will get. If you have a single tension capo, like a Kyser, the problem can be magnified further because these types of capos usually have a strong grip. An adjustable capo, like a Shubb, can be loosened to minimize the tuning issues.
No matter which capo you use, you should always check your tuning with the capo in place. You’ll probably notice that the lower strings (6 and 5) are sharper than the higher strings, so prepare to lower their pitch more to compensate. When you go back to a song with no capo, you’ll have to re-tune.
Although acoustic guitars are most closely associated with capos, there are a few examples of capo use with electrics. I like to encourage guitarists to use an adjustable capo with electrics, since the Kyser types are typically too strong and will force an electric wildly out of tune.
The intro to “Hotel California”, for example, is not only played on electric but is capoed at fret 7! The potential for out-of-tune notes in this situation is very high Continue reading “Money Guitar Tip #3: Capos and Tuning” »
If learning your favorite riffs and solos by ear seems like an impossible task, then you must try the Amazing Slow Downer!
I had been aware of the ASD in the past, but recently saw some rave reviews from other guitar instructors, so I figured I’d check it out. This coincided nicely with a bluegrass tune – read: wicked fast – that I’m currently working on. The real-time tempo was entirely too quick to cop all the cool licks by ear, so I purchased the product.
Amazing Slow Downer, where have you been all my life?
Here’s the scoop: You simply load a music file (like an iTunes track) into it and hit “Play”. Unlike products in the past, which would lower the pitch as it slowed the tempo, the ASD can slow to whichever speed you prefer and maintain the correct pitch.
You can do all sorts of other nifty things with it, like change the effects or the mix, loop sections, etc., but the variable speed selector is where it’s at. Learn a riff slowly (40-50% of original tempo), and then play along at increasing speeds until you’re up to the original tempo. Genius! Continue reading “Money Guitar Tip #2: Amazing Slow Downer” »
Normally, when I refer to “power” with my guitarists, I’m talking about feeling empowered as a player – the idea that you can execute whatever is required of you on the fingerboard. This power comes from dedicated study and ongoing, productive practice.
There’s another kind of power that guitarists need, too. It comes from electricity.
Here’s a recent message from a student:
I bought some new guitar pedals for myself and was wondering if you could share some tips on powering them up. What are my options? Do people still use batteries? Help!”
This desperate cry for AC and DC prompted me to put together a basic guide to powering your pedals. Perhaps you too have some pedals and would like to know your powering options.
Note: Malcolm and Angus Young of AC/DC are famous for not using guitar pedals. Ironic, huh?
I want to be clear about one thing, though: I’m giving you some tips based on my own personal experience. I don’t pretend to know all of the options available in the stores; I know what has worked – and continues to work – for me. Let’s power up, people! Continue reading “Power to the Pedals!” »
What do classic songs like “Hotel California” (The Eagles), “Here Comes the Sun” (The Beatles), “Fire and Rain” (James Taylor), and “Landslide” (Fleetwood Mac) have in common?
How about modern pop tunes like “If I Die Young” (The Band Perry), “I’m Yours” (Jason Mraz), “Hey Soul Sister” (Train), and “Come On Get Higher” (Matt Nathanson)?
Answer: They all require a capo for maximum musical mojo!
If you’re not using a capo, then you’re doing your guitar playing a major disservice. The modern guitarist needs to learn to use a capo effectively since so many songs either benefit from it or require it to sound their best. Luckily for you, you’ve arrived at the right place.
This lesson will answer all of your questions about the fundamentals of capo use, including types of capos, positioning, the “moveable nut” concept, and more. Let’s get this party started with a trip through Capo Basics! Continue reading “Capo Basics” »
“Be the ball.”
Ty Webb knew a thing or two about golf. His sage advice to Danny Noonan in Caddyshack has stood the test of time.
Ty understood that in order to be a great golfer, you have to engage the forces of the universe, relax, and let things happen.
As it turns out, the same thing happens in guitar. Sort of.
Just as golf begins with the strike of the ball, guitar playing begins with the strike of the pick to the string. So the type of pick you choose, the way you grip it, and the way you attack the strings with it are critical to your success.
You must “be the pick”.
If you’re a beginner, then choosing the correct pick makes a huge difference in your sound and your “feel” for the guitar. Learning how to wield that little sucker will help out a bunch too, of course.
If you’re an intermediate-level player, you may find that experimenting with different pick shapes, weights and grips uncovers new possibilities.
So follow along as I channel my inner Ty Webb and lay down some of my own sage advice regarding the humble plectrum. Continue reading “Be the Pick” »