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Keeping in tune using a CAPO


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About a year ago I purchased an Epiphone Limited Edition Les Paul Custom PRO Silverburst guitar. Sounds great but I have a really tough time keeping it in tune unless I use 11's and once I put a capo on the thing it's all out of whack. Anyone else have these kinds of problems?


I am using Gibson Vintage strings (11's) and have tried several types of capos including one that was like $45.00 and still not good.


I've used Kyser capos and G7th Performance Capo.




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Any time you put a capo on a guitar, it affects the intonation.


I've done this with a tuning meter and a few guitars. No matter how hard or light the tension on the capo is, it makes the pitch of the strings go sharp. Add your fretting finger(s) and it goes even sharper - especially if you don't have a very light touch on the strings.


My advice? Learn to play without it or accept intonation problems.

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Notes is correct.


On the other hand, the capo is too good an option to use, especially if you have a root chord fingerpickin' schtick that doesn't work with other instruments or your or somebody else's voice.


Yes to the light touch. Depending on the capo, how tightly you have it nailed down, strings in use, fret type, etc., a heavier touch tends to bring some interesting opportunities for strings to pull. I've used one for various purposes over nearly 50 years and I have one for each of my guitars, acoustic or electric, including the old Guild S100c that's an SG type wearing 8-38s.




Two examples:


1) Mother Maybelle Carter used one on her old Gibbie archtop and she wasn't all that gentle on the strings, yet didn't have intonation problems. On the other hand, she played quite horizontally across the strings similarly to how she played the autoharp - where you have to play horizontally rather than getting any kinda dig on the strings.


2) Flamenco guitarists beat the snot outa their strings using capos and stay in tune too.


I think part of the trick is to let the strings feel naturally comfortable and snugged when you put on the capo. It may take a little adjusting - and adjustment to your head.


Nowadays I mostly use the Kyser on any steel string. You've kinda apply it so the pad comes down evenly and straight down onto the strings. Sometimes you've gotta loosen it and mess a little with the strings, but if the guitar was in tune it shouldn't be all that difficult. On nylon strings I've always used a wood and string flamenco capo. You apply the main string "pusher-downer" and then crank the thing to a stable tight, but not as hard as she goes.


Guitars are like pianos in the sense that they're "tempered" and ain't gonna be perfectly on pitch any time you fret anything. The higher the action, the less "on" pitch, too. With that in mind, figure the capo needs a little affection to get it set right to sing for you.


Oh - Useful? I'll never forget when I had something like three days to learn the guitar parts to Man of la Mancha. As I recall it was all 6-string chords, but in Ab, Bb and Eb. Argh! It was simple transposing, though, if you used a capo and it also added to the "Spanish guitar" sound. I don't thing I could have done it just doing barre chords.


And... hey, all a capo is, is an extra finger for barre chords. Hmmmm.



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