Being a long-time guitarist or a beginner you’ve probably heard of the capo. If you haven’t, don’t fret. We got you covered. Capo (capodaster) is an amazing little guitar gadget, and it can assist you during your music sessions. 

It is used for string length shortening, and that way allows you to play open chords in some different keys, even if you’re playing the guitar in standard tuning. 

The main benefit of using a capo is an option to use the same fingerpicking pattern instead of relearning the same song again. But with so widespread usage of this device chances are you asked yourself can I leave capo on the guitar. 

The answer is no. You shouldn’t leave a capo on the guitar when you’re not playing it, as it can lead to damage and guitar neck warping.

 So, in today’s topic, we will cover some interesting info about the capo and its usage, so you can easily know how to get the most of it.

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Can You Use a Capo On Classical, Electric, and Acoustic Guitar?

If you love playing various guitar types there is a chance you would like to use a capo in all of them. Luckily, that is possible. You can use it on any guitar imaginable.

An electric guitar with this gadget on is not so common, but you can still use it. 

Even though capo can be used on almost any guitar, you should bear a few things in mind. From proper usage to different types and brands.

Things to Avoid When Using It 

There are a couple of things you should avoid doing with the capo, or when it is on the guitar. So take a look at some of them, as they are really important. 

Do Not Leave the Capo On The Guitar

Music enthusiasts often tend to use this gizmo too much. Although it is perfectly okay to play your guitar with the capo on, you should never leave it on a guitar when you are not playing. For example, acoustic guitars already have a lot of tension issues, and you shouldn’t add any more of them. Therefore, this extra tension can lead to some guitar neck warping. 

Electric guitars have a support stick inside the neck, while acoustic ones don’t have. Also, you can end up ruining the capo as well, but this is not nearly as important as the guitar neck.

But, if you can, why not prolong both their lives. One more important thing is that you can damage the guitar finish. Or can cause some fret wear by leaving the capo for too long.

For example, when you play some chords without the capo you would probably move the strings a bit. Maybe you’ll even play some vibrato. So, the frets will wear more evenly, and therefore dents and holes won’t form under each string.

Do Not Tune the Guitar When It Is On

This is a very important rule to have in mind. Whatever you do, don’t ever tune the guitar with a capo on. Because the strings are already fretted on some level, depending on where the capo is placed, so tuning might break them, or you will not be able to tune the guitar.

Placing and removing the capo is a really easy task, so it’s best to remove it every time you need to tune your guitar. That way you can be sure you’re not placing additional tension on the strings.

But, if you tuned the guitar nicely and it goes out of tune with a capo on, there might be two issues to resolve. You either placed capo badly, or the guitar has some intonation issues. But, whatever might be a problem, you still shouldn’t tune the guitar with a capo on.

Can Capo Damage the Guitar?

One of the main questions guitar lovers ask is whether capo is going to somehow damage their guitar. Unfortunately, yes. Especially if you buy a cheap one. 

Amongst the most common problems this gadget can do is to ruin the guitar finish. This gizmo is basically like a clamp, so it clamps things. The cheap ones destroy the finish more easily, particularly when you use them for a longer period.

When choosing your new capo try opting for some that have protection so the pressure on the backside of the guitar neck is lower. Luckily, most of the capos have a softer clap side, and it’s placed where the thumb goes.

These ones are nice, and if they have soft edges they shouldn’t cause any damage to the guitar neck. One thing to also have in mind is not to scratch the finish during the placing and removing process. 

Additionally, you should know that capo will have some impact on the lifespan of the strings.

Of course, you won’t need to change strings every day because of capo, but still, have this info in mind. So, try finding some higher quality capo, that way you will have it longer, plus your guitar is also thankful to you. 

What Is the Capo Purpose?

What really happens when you put this gadget on your guitar neck? Take this for example. If you’re using standard tuning then the sixth string will be E. So, when you put a capo on, let’s say, on the third fret, you will change the pitch to G.

The good thing is that you can use any tuning, and place this little fella wherever you want. But, the point is that the result will be the same as if you fretted the entire guitar neck somewhere. So, this way you get the chance to use open chords instead of a barre. In the example above, an E sharp chord would be G, and A sharp would be C, etc.

That way you will shorten each string, depending on the capo place, and you could play chords like the song was in E, and you wanted open chords. The main reason for this is to let the player use open chords if the part of the song requires some extra corrections and improvements.

So, if you want to play some specific picking pattern song, the capo may be a perfect solution. That way you could be playing without the need to relearn the whole pattern in a different position. You will simply shorten the string length, and keep on playing.

capo is used to raise the pitch of a fretted instrument

How to Use a Capo If You’re a Beginner

A good thing is that capo is very easy to use, so it won’t take you a long time to learn how to place it correctly. It’s a clamp, that you place on the guitar neck and by that press on all six strings. After you decide where you want to place it, you will need to press the two near ends and clamp the string.

It’s actually very similar to how a clothespin works. So, logically you won’t need too much time to place it or remove it. That’s the main advantage of this gadget, you can easily place it and change the key in just a few seconds. The most common mistake beginners make is placing it unevenly.

So, you need to be sure that all strings are pressed equally, and that the capo is a bit behind the fret bar. If you don’t do this correctly, it may happen that you change the tuning slightly, so the chords may sound out of tune, even if your guitar is perfectly tuned. 

Although it may sound a bit complicated at the beginning, all you’ll need a bit of practice. It’s easier anyway to use capo, instead of playing barre chords.

Is Capo Suitable For All Guitars?

It’s nice to know that capo will usually fit all standard guitars. But, you should know that you might not be able to use it on some seven-string guitars, or if you have one that has eight or more strings. 

The main issue here will be that the capo will be too short to clamp all the strings. So, in this case, the solution may be a custom-made one. However, if you’re playing a regular six-stringed guitar, it’s going to be easy to find the right capo for it. 

There are really many capo options on the market, but it’s very important to choose it from some well-known brands. And always opt for some that has soft padding, so you don’t damage your guitar.

Dunlop has some nice ones, but you can check out many more, and find the one that suits you and your guitar best.

The Bottom Line

Playing guitar is an amazing thing, and it’s really great that musicians can use various gadgets to help them create some beautiful tunes. The capo is one of those, and when used properly can be a great music assistant. 

So, if you want to try it out, go for it. Just remember to buy a quality one, and never leave it on your guitar when you’re not playing it. That way you will have maximum gain, without some major damages.

If you want to learn more about guitars and other instruments, check out our other articles.