How to Use a Capo on a Mandolin

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Using a capo on a mandolin requires you to keep a few very important things in mind. Learn how to use a capo on a mandolin with help from the second-generation owner of the Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Banjos & Mandolins
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Emory Knode from The Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe here to answer the question of how and why to use a capo on the mandolin. To answer this question we brought in Charles Roe, our shop mandolin expert to demonstrate for you today. Alrighty so a lot of different mandolin capos. I just have a Kyser capo. They all pretty much do the same thing. If we were to play in the key like in an open key on the mandolin which would be G for instance we'd have G, C and D. What the capo does is basically changes the key of the mandolin so once we put the capo on depending on how far up you put it, that determines what different key you would be in. So if we put it up two frets, basically that's two half steps up or a whole step up which takes us now to the key of A. So now we have A, D and E by still playing the same chord forms and we can continue to move that up. We can move it up two more frets and that's the key of B and that's how you would use a capo. Why would someone need to use a capo? What would be the purpose for that? Usually it's when people utilize open strings in the sound of whatever they're playing. Like if we played usually the key of A, you are limited to some of the open chords that you would play. If you wanted to keep the same chord forms and just move up, that makes it easier so you don't have to learn anything new but also you'd be limited to certain keys where you couldn't use open strings to play the chords. So sometimes people want to get like the open sound of the string which is much different than a fretted note. So when you capo up you can use those open chords to get that same type of sound. Sometimes would you also use a capo to assist with the register for the voice if someone is singing along and they only know how to play one particular key? Yes, certainly for someone with limited capabilities on the mandolin if you know a few chords, you can play them in pretty much any key using a capo, just by capoing up to different areas. I'm Emory Knode with Charles Roe here at the Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe answering the question on how and why to use a capo on the mandolin.


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