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Thread: Best Capo

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Thanks Mark. I can see how playing a tune in the closed positions can allow you to transpose and even modulate easily. That would be an advantage. I'm not sure how it changes the cramped conditions up the fretboard though. If I'm playing in second or third position for instance, the frets are closer than first position with or without a capo. I don't see the practical solution there.

    But other than being able to modulate quickly, do you find that playing in closed positions without a capo offers you musical possibilities that you don't have with a capo? Can you do more or better in some way without it?

    I'm looking for a practical answer that goes beyond some sense of tradition (such as Big Mon didn't use one, etc.) or some perception that unaccomplished players use them to compensate for their lack of training (for instance, that capos are cheating somehow).

    If playing without a capo makes more or better music, then how?
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  2. #27
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Quote Originally Posted by mandozilla View Post
    There are those who belong to the CAPO POLICE but don't let 'em get to you.
    I used to go over to Jurez, Mexico quite a bit (before the violence got out of hand), and I remember that bribing the capo police is pretty much a rule of thumb

    However if you want to capo without worrying about the eyes of the Capo Secret Police, my suggestion would be to head to the Big Bend Region of Texas where the stars at night are big and bright
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  3. #28
    Registered User Santiago's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hanson View Post
    Nothing wrong in using a capo, a crutch ? next thing he'll be calling a pick a crutch, Santiago must be Chief of Capo Police.
    Shubb is about the best capo IMO, I've seen the spring break on a Keyser, this can't happen with a Shubb

    Dave H
    No cops here. Hey, you like Capos? Have a party, I don't really care.

    From dictionary.com: "3. anything that serves as a temporary and often inappropriate support, supplement, or substitute; prop: He uses liquor as a psychological crutch."

    My point, probably better made by JeffD, is that it's not an excuse for avoiding difficult keys -- (Can anybody say "Dance Tonight" okay McCartney tunes up instead to avoid the chords) -- but if you're a more advanced player you can probably handle it without stunting your musical growth.
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  4. #29
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    I know you weren't replying to me, Santiago, but you made two salient points to my question.

    "3. anything that serves as a temporary and often inappropriate support, supplement, or substitute". What, in your opinion, makes a capo inappropriate? Why is it a crutch?

    "...if you're a more advanced player you can probably handle it without stunting your musical growth." What is it about using a capo that stunts one's musical growth? That's right at the heart of my question, and your answer is important. What am I missing out on as a musician because I use a capo?
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    M@d| - M@dce|| Keith Erickson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    WOW!!!!! There seems to be a lot of emotion on the subject of capos.

    If I can quote Larry King for a moment......Can't we all get just along?

    Anyway, The Caf has ton's of posts about this very subject. I personally do not capo the mandolin for 2 reasons:

    1) Length of the neck is too short
    2) I like that I can keep up with our piano player/ choir director when we need change keys (i.e. from D to Eb) in the middle of a song.

    Before starting on the 'cello, I would only use my capo as the third hand when I changed my mandolin strings. Now it's a big part of my 'cello playing.

    Weather you believe I crutch or don't crutch..... ...anyone's judgement of my use of the capo will not affect my playing one bit.

    No emotion invested in this thread or where it appears to be headed
    Last edited by Keith Erickson; Apr-06-2009 at 11:42am.
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  6. #31
    kestrel
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    "What am I missing out on as a musician because I use a capo? "

    Bragging rights.

  7. #32
    Registered User Santiago's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim2723 View Post
    I know you weren't replying to me, Santiago, but you made two salient points to my question.

    "3. anything that serves as a temporary and often inappropriate support, supplement, or substitute". What, in your opinion, makes a capo inappropriate? Why is it a crutch?

    "...if you're a more advanced player you can probably handle it without stunting your musical growth." What is it about using a capo that stunts one's musical growth? That's right at the heart of my question, and your answer is important. What am I missing out on as a musician because I use a capo?
    I'm not making a federal case out of it, the but the idea is that it can be MIS-USED to avoid learning more difficult chords and keys, so that you can play more advanced music with simpler fingerings. On face value, I understand that that's a good thing. The problem is that a developing musician should not avoid the hard stuff -- it's what makes you a more advanced player. Thus, it's a crutch when used to avoid learning the full range of the instrument. A seasoned pro who can play all the keys, or someone trying to keep up with an advanced jam as mentioned are all valid uses. It's just that shortcuts can lead to laziness. As Tom Hanks said in the film A League of Their own, referring to the difficulty of baseball, not mandolin: "It's the hard that makes it good."
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  8. #33
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    Actually, this is about as silly an argument as the one about whether (That's whether, not "weather".) you learn tunes by copying them off a recording, using tab., or reading standard notation - when it becomes an argument (which it usually does) - but what the heck?, I'll play along.

    I had a good bit of musical training back in the day, so when I started learning to play mandolin, a few years ago, I just naturally fell into learning the chords for different key signatures. Big freakin' deal! I don't play professionally - never intend to. As of right now, I don't have the chords to the key of A# or many other oddball keys memorized. Doubt that I'll really ever need them - but if I happen to, I'm not going to sit out the tune - out comes the Shubb. I doubt, seriously, that I'll run in fear, if some self-appointed super-star points and sniggers.

    I live in a rather secluded little valley in Appalachia, and know quite a few folks who play music - have been playing for many, many years. Most of 'em know the I, IV, V chords, and maybe a seventh chord in the key of C. A few even know the key of G. For all else - out comes the capo. Some of these folks have been enjoying back porch sessions for over fifty-years, with friends and family. Not one of them can read standard notation, and a few rely on tab to learn new songs. What?! They're supposed to go without the enjoyment of music, just because some musical snob capo cop looks down their nose at them? Yeah, right!

    It all depends on what you want to do. If, for some reason it makes you feel good that you know how to play every possible chord, in every possible key, than I take my hat off to you. Bravo. But, a capo is not necessarily a "crutch". It is a "tool" to be put to use as the individual sees fit. I once saw a hot-shot karate demonstration where a guy was driving 16d spikes through pine boards, with his bare hand. I was a carpenter, and never once, after seeing that demonstration, did I have the desire to begin framing houses by driving nails with with my hand. That's what a hammer is for. It's a tool. A capo is a tool. If you don't want to use one, so be it, but, fer cryin' out loud, just because you don't, doesn't make you - or your music - superior to anyone else's.

    Now, I wanna play this tune in K-flat. Where's my capo?

    Gene

  9. #34
    Registered User Santiago's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Gene,

    You're not wrong (and you know this). I'm just saying that those of us who want to reach the NEXT level of skill will in the long run benefit from the "heavy lifting." Seasoned players make their own rules. Newbys seek advice.
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  10. #35
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Santiago -

    My comments weren't directed at you. You posted while I was typing. I think we agree, completely. I was merely responding to those who seem to make it some kind of personal crusade to belittle folks who use a capo. I'm all for helping those who ask, but to tell the folks I mentioned, that they were in some way "inferior" because they use a capo, would be courting disaster, where I live.

    And, some people have no desire to move to some "higher" level. They make music; they enjoy the music they make; they've got cows to milk, fields to tend, etc., etc., etc. There's one old gal and her brother, who I get together with, once in awhile, who think I'm doing some kind of magic when we switch to a tune in F, and I don't put a capo on. She's asked, and I've taught her to play the chords in D, on her guitar, and she thinks it's wonderful that she can now play in C, G, and D. Grover "Don't want none of it". "I been playin' this thing for sixty-years, and git along jist fine".

    Ya gotta love it.

    Gene

  11. #36
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Gene,

    I hope that you did not read to much into my comments one way or the other. I have no financial interest or emotional interest if someone uses a capo or not. I guess the answer to the original posters inquiry- Shubb is the way to go.

    The own personal conlusion I will draw from this thread: When my capo finally decides to give out, I will be sure to use a Shubb on my mandocello.

    Gene,

    P.S. I guess pointing out the spelling of "whether" or "weather", this is directed towards me. I would suggest you read the post before tearing into me.
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  12. #37
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    I knew a guitarist who called his capo a "cheater"; same idea, that those who use it are in some way cheating or using a crutch -- not following the rules, not fully "abled" musically.

    Bushwah. That's like saying that banjo players who use fingerpicks haven't fully developed their fingernails, or some such. It's just another piece of musical apparatus that you can use if you want to, not use if you don't want to, and so what?

    Don't know why, whenever this topic comes up, it seems to evoke condescension and contempt from capo non-users, and defensiveness from capo users. I use one once in a blue moon, but surely don't look down on those who use one more frequently. And I use a capo regularly on my larger mandolin-family instruments. At the risk of repeating myself, so what?

    In the immortal words of Rodney King (whatever happened to him?), "Can't we all just get along?"
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  13. #38
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    In the immortal words of Rodney King (whatever happened to him?), "Can't we all just get along?"
    Allen,

    My bad

    It was Larry King who said, "Our next cawla is from Saturn....Saturn what's ya question for Larry King?"
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  14. #39
    Registered User Santiago's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Gene, You're right. We seem to be in violent agreement. :-)
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  15. #40
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    NFI but you might want to consider a Paige capo as a viable alternative to Shubb and/or Kyser.

    http://www.janetdavismusic.com/paige.html

    I use one on my guitar and it works great. You don't have to worry about losing it like a Shubb and there's no spring to break like a Kyser plus you can dial in just the right amount of tension. When it's not needed you just slide it up over the nut.

    GVD

  16. #41
    Mark Evans mandozilla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Isn't it kind of funny that something so harmless and insignificant as a CAPO can become such a hot button issue? IMHO, a capo is just another tool, like TAB, or slowdowners, or whatever to help a player while they are in the learning phase.

    In the immortal words of Rodney King (whatever happened to him?), "Can't we all just get along?"
    You know what's creepy about that quote? As I write this I'm at work and I'm less than a mile from where that fateful incident took place...as a matter of fact, I drive right through it everyday and seldom give it a thought. But now that I'm reminded of it...

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  17. #42
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Erickson View Post
    WOW!!!!! There seems to be a lot of emotion on the subject of capos.

    If I can quote Larry King for a moment......Can't we all get just along?
    I think you meant to say Rodney King.

    P.S. - just noticed the correction listed above, sorry 'bout dat!

    FWIW - I like the Shubb banjo capo. There, I said it. That's that.
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  18. #43
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim2723 View Post
    In what ways does playing without one improve the music for you? Does it make you more expressive? Emotive? Inovative? Does it improve your timing and phrasing? Your dynamics? In musical terms, what does the skill of playing in all keys get you?

    Seriously. I'm not criticizing one playing style or another. But if I were to put in all the time and work to learn to play without a capo, what could I expect it to bring to my music? If using a capo is a crutch, how am I hindering my music with one??

    Woo hoo. I'll take a flying leap at this specifically, and hopefully answer the question and not make too much of an idiot of myself.

    If (and this is the big if) you are using the capo as a crutch, that implies that you are using it because its easier than doing what you want some other way. What that some other way is and what value it has and what pleasure it may bring you - you won't know and won't be able to judge, if you avoid it by using a capo.

    Does it make me more expressive? Emotive? Inovative? Does it improve my timing and phrasing? My dynamics?

    Yes.



    Oh ok, I'll elaborate -

    The mandolin has infinite symmetries. There's three ways to play most of the notes and two ways to play most of the rest. Every closed form harmony or chord is moveable everywhere, to harmonise with any note, in any tune. The most important intervals in western music are just up one string or down one string. And getting a handle on all these symmetries gives you an infinity of options when improvising or backing someone up with chords and harmonies, or making cool transitions from one tune to another, or playing tunes blisteringly fast because in this or that configuration there is hardly any finger motion. I don't know how many times (but many many times for sure) I have tried to learn some wonderful lick or turn around from an album and discovered that if I got out of first position it was easy. "Oh, thats all he's doing?!!??"


    Enjoy the mandolin any way you want, anyway you can - I would never say different. Using a capo can enhance your playing. Its only when used as a crutch that it can be problematic.
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  19. #44
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    This thread and it's innummerable predecessors are driving me a little crazy. The OP asked a reasonable and very simple question about the best choice for a piece of gear. Almost immediately he is told that he should not use or desire this device that is in constant use by the best players in the idiom of music that is his primary interest (Irish Traditional) because it causes musical feeble-mindedness and makes you go blind.

    Imagine if someone posting asking how to structure a bluegrass break was greeted by posts from jazz players telling them to quit playing around with such childish triadic harmonic structures, simple progressions and cliched licks and learn to play over "Giant Steps" or "Donna Lee" going outside the tonality and incorporating 7th chords with altered tensions and a dizzying kaleidoscope of complex scales. After all, that's what really good musicians do isn't it? That's pretty much one step away from what some of the capo-phobes routinely do.

    I just saw a Youtube video from the "Transatlantic Sessions" series from the BBC where Irish/Scottish and American musicians play together and mandolinist Russ Barenburg, tenor banjoist Gerry O'Connor, and a very fine guitarist who's name escapes me were playing a jig with accordion and flute virtuosos Sharron Shannon and Mick McGoldrick. All the stringed instrument players were using capos and there's not a weak player in the bunch.

    Capos are a part of the fretted stringed instrument stylistic vocabulary of the music the man who asked the question wants to play. Whether or not they are considered a crutch in idioms of music he does not want to play is probably irrelevant to him. Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Brian McDonough, Tony McManus, Alec Finn , Arty McGlynn, John Doyle (to name a scant handful of giants), all use capos all the time. If you want that sound, you need that tool. Some people aspire to master an instrument. Some aspire to play a style of music and the instrument is simply a means to that end. "You take what you need and you leave the rest" unless your scope of ambition on the instrument expands. It may not. There aren't a lot of bagpipe players in jazz.

    I have, over time, learned to simply skip over or not respond to threads that imply that if it wasn't for "Big Mon", we'd all be sitting around a fire in a cave twanging the string of a hunting bow and grunting incoherently. If you feel using a capo is musically undignified you're entitiled to your values, but please do the rest of us a favor and just skip the next capo thread.
    Steve

  20. #45
    Howling at the moon Wolfboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    VERY well said. And for what it's worth, I like the Shubb banjo capo, myself.

  21. #46
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve L View Post
    the capo-phobes..


    I like that.
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  22. #47
    jbmando RIP HK Jim Broyles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Using a capo can enhance your playing. Its only when used as a crutch that it can be problematic.
    Problematic for whom? Certainly not to the person using it.
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  23. #48
    Mark Evans mandozilla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Looking for a capo to fit my mandolin. What is your recommendation?


    Almost immediately he is told that he should not use or desire this device that is in constant use by the best players in the idiom of music that is his primary interest (Irish Traditional) because it causes musical feeble-mindedness and makes you go blind.


    So Steve L how do you know the OP plays Irish Trad? I couldn't find any statement by Parlor Boyle to that effect.

    Yes it's true mandolin capos are somewhat (actually very) frowned upon in BG music circles (personally, I couldn't care less but don't go there myself). Does Irish Trad mando playing favor a lot of open, ringing tones? I'm not being a wise guy I'm really curious.

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  24. #49
    Registered User testore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    I don't play electric guitar but with all this capo talk, why don't electric players use them???
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  25. #50
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    Default Re: Best Capo

    Some of them do. I did when covering a song in Ab, Eb or Db, if I wanted the open string sounds. Albert Collins did all the time:
    "I thought I knew a lot about music. Then you start digging and the deeper you go, the more there is."~John Mellencamp

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