Category Archives: Acoustic

My Love-Hate Relationship with Capo

When I first started playing guitar, I was really into 80s metal.  I never saw any of my heroes using capos.  You know, it was all rock with heavy distortion.  A lot of power chords and open string stuff.

For a long time I thought using a capo was cheesy.  Only for people who didn’t know how to use barre chords.  And something that I didn’t like about it was that notes held by the capo didn’t sound the same as notes from open strings.  They sound muted.  And because I was playing a lot of rock, I wanted all the notes to ring as loud and as long as possible (even on acoustic).

But later on I realized that if you wanted a certain sound that’s produced by a specific way of holding a chord, let’s say for instance the G (major) using the C-shape down around the 8th fret (open G-string), but you need it in a certain key (let’s say you need this for Bb), then using a capo is really the only way to accomplish this.

In my original project, Simple Souls, some of the material is meant to sound folky.  And I noticed that a lot of folk singers use capos.  Most often, they would use a capo and then play open (string) chords.  The aha moment for me was when I realized not only does that allow them to get a certain sound and sing at a comfortable key.  But the muted sound the capo produced was also part of the feel.

So now I embrace the capo.  I also like using it in acoustic jams so that I can play chords in a different position from someone else and thicken the sound.  At the same time I can use mostly open chords and not tire out my hand.  One of my students wants to learn about songwriting.  So I’ll be showing him how to use the capo to change keys quickly.

I’ve used a number of capos.  Right now, my favorite is the one in the picture above.  A few brands make that style capo.  I’m using the one made by Keyser.

Do you use a capo?  When and how do you use it?  Leave a comment!

Martin D-1R … Welcome to the Family

I love finding a gem at the store and taking it home!

I found a very-good condition (used) Martin D-1R at Parkway Music.  I wasn’t 100% sure at first but after taking it home and playing it side by side with the other guitars, it’s perfect!  (Not my actual guitar in picture)

It fits just right sonically between the Takamine N10 and the Larrivee L-05E.  The Tak has a very quick attack and very good mids response but is a bit lacking in the bass area.  The Larrivee on the other hand has very good bass and upper-end but is kind of mellow and smooth.  The Martin has the attack like the Tak and the bass response I’ve been looking for.  And it’s incredibly loud for its size!

About 2 years ago, a friend of mine went back to India after having stayed in the US for a few years and had picked up the guitar while he was here.  A year later, he contacted me and asked me to try to find him a “nice” guitar (in his price range).  I visited Parkway and found him a really nice Martin for a great price.  I was almost sad to see go… I wanted it for myself!  Ever since then, I would think about how great his Martin was and wished I could find one.

After Christmas, I went searching for something to compliment the acoustics I already had.  In the back of my mind I was thinking wouldn’t it be great to find one just like that Martin from a year ago. 

So I was at Parkway and I didn’t see anything on the floor that’s what I’m looking for and within my price range.  I was talking with Matt and I asked him if he had anything else.  I almost couldn’t believe it when he said, “Hey, remember that Martin you bought but and you said you couldn’t keep it for some reason… Someone traded in one just like it yesterday.  It’s still in the back waiting to be setup but do you want to check it out?”

One week, a setup job, 2 guitars and a bunch of pedals I wasn’t using later… I took home the perfect addition to my acoustic collection!  

I only kept it for one night.  Right now I’m waiting for them to put in a pickup (LR Baggs Active Element).  I can’t wait to bring it home and welcome it to the family!