Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums
Sign in to follow this  
JohnnyReb

Using a capo on my AJ...sounds crappy

Recommended Posts

Ok so the title of the post pretty much explains it. I've had a capo laying around for years and never use it. My dad never had one at all so when I learned guitar I didn't even know what a capo was for a long time. I kinda followed his path I guess and learned how to play everything I know in different keys. When I play with other people such as in a bluegrass jam they capo up to play key of A in the G position. I never understood why and just always played an A chord and went along. I guess some people just don't like some chord shapes and choose to capo up instead.

 

Anyway so tonight I decide to play and sing that Pearl Jam song about the car wreck and where oh where can my baby be....,I'm sure you know the song. Key of A fits my voice best for it but that dreaded G minor was killing me when barring it. ( I hate bar chords). So I dig my old capo out and put it on the second fret to play out of G and use the Em.

 

So with the capo on my AJ it sounded like it had a noose around its neck! It's a big sounding booming guitar with a Martinish rumble to it that I love. With the capo on it became brittle and thin. It was terrible. I couldn't get it off fast enough. Now I've heard other people play with a capo and it sounded fine. Just seemed to choke all the life out of my AJ. Especially my big E string. It went from boom to thud. Of course volume wasn't a issue other than my bass was totally gone. Just thin and brittle, but still loud.

 

So is this normal?? I just don't have enough experience with one to know. I expected to still keep some of that booming rosewood dread in the sound with a capo on the second fret. It just sucked the life out of it. Sounded like some old Stella parlor guitar with rusty strings. Yuck!

 

I guess it could be the round shoulders and Gibson tone. I never did like that dry thuddy tone of a lot of Gibsons. My AJ is the exception because of its power and depth. I guess maybe with a capo it looses it and turns into a dry sounding j35 because of the loss of scale lenth and round shoulders. Just a theory. I guess if I'm going to play with a capo I need a Martin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

what kind of capo is it johnny ?

 

might have something to do with it ?

i mean something's bound to be lost and maybe you have sensitive ears to it , but youre only on the second fret , not as if youre away up on the seventh or something

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure what kind it is, it's tight and holds the strings down well.

 

I dunno maybe your right that I'm sensitive to the change. The huge drop off of bass is what bothers me most. I like a little rumble. Just made my E string a big THUD. I tried it again a bit ago and the higher strings are nice and crisp. Just loose all my bass. Guess that's just a Gibson thing. Lots of ya like that thuddy bass. I like that deep AJ rumble but using a capo seems to choke it out.

 

Simple solution though....keep the dang capo off it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yeah if youre happy enough with no capo then its not an issue ... i'd be beat without one , the majority of the songs i do use a capo . i know that using barre chords is a way round it but for the likes of for example dylan's dont think twice a capo is a must ... unless you can sing it in any key ( which i certainly cant)

 

i was just wondering about the type of capo because you said it was lying around and gave the impression it was kinda old an unused then maybe the rubber is a little donald ducked and dried up ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It sounds like your AJ might have a wolf note when the low E string is fretted at the 2nd fret (F#). Try applying the capo elsewhere on the fretboard and see how things change, if any, in terms of the overall tonal balance and bass presence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yeah if youre happy enough with no capo then its not an issue ... i'd be beat without one , the majority of the songs i do use a capo . i know that using barre chords is a way round it but for the likes of for example dylan's dont think twice a capo is a must ... unless you can sing it in any key ( which i certainly cant)

 

i was just wondering about the type of capo because you said it was lying around and gave the impression it was kinda old an unused then maybe the rubber is a little donald ducked and dried up ?

 

 

The capo was bought new around 10 years ago and stored away well. It's in like new condition and the spring is strong.

 

And yea I'm happy enough without one. I guess I'm just blessed with being able to sing everything in G C D A or E. I play mostly traditional country and bluegrass so there's never really a need to get outside those. I just happen to crave a oldie song about the car wreck and hate barring a minor chord. I've seen some people who can't play nothing without a capo. If I play some Hank Williams in E they all want to capo up down the neck somewhere. I always wondered what was so hard about just using E in the first position. Maybe it's the B7 they try to avoid I dunno

 

Another theory is the Elixer strings I'm using. It's possible the capo isn't holding that E down well because of the slick coating. I suspect a non coated string would respond better to the capo being there,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Put the capo on..pluck each note..are they clear...? Yes, its not the capo.

Character of guitar changes when you use a capo. My J200 Maple/Sitka sounds wonderfull,Mandolin like with the capo,like a whole different instrument.

Buy some more guitars : ) One of em will sound good with a capo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a problem like this on one of my guitars using a capo on the 5th fret. It turned out that the ruber that held the strings down was cracking at both e strings and part of the b string. Check the condition of your capo. . I changed to a newer capo and the problem went away. The capo I use is a Shubb. The rubber part that holds the strings down can be replaced.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The capo was bought new around 10 years ago and stored away well. It's in like new condition and the spring is strong.

 

And yea I'm happy enough without one. I guess I'm just blessed with being able to sing everything in G C D A or E. I play mostly traditional country and bluegrass so there's never really a need to get outside those. I just happen to crave a oldie song about the car wreck and hate barring a minor chord. I've seen some people who can't play nothing without a capo. If I play some Hank Williams in E they all want to capo up down the neck somewhere. I always wondered what was so hard about just using E in the first position. Maybe it's the B7 they try to avoid I dunno

 

Another theory is the Elixer strings I'm using. It's possible the capo isn't holding that E down well because of the slick coating. I suspect a non coated string would respond better to the capo being there,

 

sure the capo can be used to change a key to suit the singers voice , and i can sing songs in all those keys as well , what i meant was that , using the same example , dont think twice is in E , i can certainly play it using the standard E chords with A ,C#m and even a tricky B , but it wont sound the same ... nothing wrong with doing the song different , but the capo is certainly not some sort of 'cheating' device

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the Shubb when performing and some Keysers on my cheaper, beater guitars when I'm trying out a new song. The Shubb's rubber is a better and longer lasting than some of the others. Just opinion, I know others think otherwise. Also, its tension can be easily adjusted. On my guitars, I like the Capo to press down hard enough to get a good tone without going sharp (which is a common occurrence). Also, consider that the "deep bass tone" you're looking for has immediately been altered since, when Capo'd on fret 2 or higher, that note is higher regardless of the capo use. You will naturally lose some depth on those frets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. The capo is defective or worn

 

2. The curvature or lack of curvature of the capo does not fit that guitar neck

 

3. User error

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, you need a software/hardware update......

 

That usually sorts out how determined you are.....

 

 

"You need to update your shorty nifties or your woo boag will add a four plus crangy jnot" or something.

 

 

Have you tried a G7 capo? Mine seems to have the right tension for my J45....Another out there thought would be the guitar top needs a bit more playing in for the capoed tuning? Belt it with some heavy duty picks for a few days with the capo on.

 

 

BluesKing777.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the guitar exhibits the same behavior when capo'd at the 1st through 5th frets for example, then there's a pretty good chance that the problem is with the capo. On the other hand, if the low E string sounds fine when capo'd at those other frets, it's probably the guitar. In that case, more than likely you've discovered the guitar's natural resonance frequency. In this situation you would notice the same response when simply fretting the low E string at the 2nd fret.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems to me that when you barre, your finger does the exact same thing as a properly tension adjusted capo. If that were true, in your case, you'd be complaining also of how your AJ sounds when you barre up the neck. But you don't complain of it so then I would suspect that the word properly in my first sentence is the X factor. Or does your guitar sound poorly barred up the neck?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you playing a 1936 AJ or a reissue like mine?

 

If the latter, IME my AJRI sounds like a piano with a Shubb firmly clamped in place up to 3rd position. It does lose some bass thump because it's a higher strung or pitched guitar with the capo. But it sounds great. My set-up is not very low BTW & any guitar I play that sounds 'crappy' capoed to the 3rd fret = to low action for me anyway.

 

I don't really like a capo much & in a group I usually just transpose chords & fills. For solo picking on a song like "Here Comes the Sun" or "Tell Me Why" I don't have enough patience or intelligence to figure the picking pattern out in a new key when needed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The capo not fitting the neck right may be the culprit. When I got the capo it was for a different guitar with a thinner and less wide fingerboard. It does seem a little cramped and is not giving the E a good seat.

 

No it's not a 36, it's a 2010 AJ. I don't have that kind of money lol . If I did I'd spend a 100 grand on 80 more acres of land vrs a 80 year old guitar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best way to use a capo is to put it right on the fret so you minimize the bending of the string over the fret and the ensuing tuning issues. If you put the capo in between frets, the strings tend to go sharp. Typically, a capo is employed so that ringing open chords can be used. In BG, a lot of times songs are done in Bb, to raise that voice up high. Playing without a capo won't get those ringing tones in that key, so the capo goes on 3 and you play out of G. And if you Travis pick in a key like Bb, a capo is an essential tool.

The guitar is not going to have the exact same tone as it would when you don't use it. I heard you mention spring, so my guess is it's a Keyser. IMO, they exert too much pressure. Shubbs are the way to go. You can regulate the pressure to what is needed instead of what the spring decides to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joe, that's a great picture of exactly what I mean. My clarification would be the edge of the capo is actually on the fret. Sorry for any confusion. You wouldn't plant the middle of the pad on the fret. Rice talks about his capo placement on one of his DVDs. And his capo placement is not at all unusual. Most modern flatpickers use it - such as Bryan Sutton, Norman Blake, David Grier, Josh Williams and many others. The point is to cut back on the amount of break the capo produces on the string. And if you are playing with others, the guitar tuning doesn't change as drastically as it does when you stick the capo in between frets.

 

Here's a video of three gents using them the way I am trying to describe - and three very different capos. Peace and love.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s8Mmc69CP8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...