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Transpose? Naaahhh!
April 3, 2008 7:55 PM   Subscribe

The Sterner Capo Museum For anyone who has found themselves reduced to the pencil and rubber band.
posted by Miko (29 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Shubb. Its the only one for me.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:10 PM on April 3, 2008


I find Shubbs much more secure and solid, but I like a Kyser for playing out, because it's much easier to adjust one-handed.
posted by Miko at 8:18 PM on April 3, 2008


I use a Dunlop trigger on my sanxian, since our songs change keys to match the range of our singers. Tuning a sanxian between each song is a pain.
posted by billtron at 8:36 PM on April 3, 2008


Aha. I'm going to try the pencil trick to turn my guitar temporarily into a, well, a banjo-tuned guitar. Neat.
posted by ctmf at 8:48 PM on April 3, 2008


The Shubb is secure, but the Kyser is the king of the quick-draw (and you can wear it stylishly on your back pocket (I've spent many an hour watching one on stage sway back-and-forth clipped to the hiney of a callapygian front-woman--a bass player's perk).

However, the G7 is the Cadillac of them all.
posted by sourwookie at 8:48 PM on April 3, 2008


oops--comma abuse!
posted by sourwookie at 8:49 PM on April 3, 2008


Loves me the Shubb, 'cept you got to keep it in yer pocket.
I have definitely employed the pencil and rubber band too.
posted by dan g. at 8:57 PM on April 3, 2008


Cool post too! Thanks!
posted by dan g. at 8:58 PM on April 3, 2008


I am against capos. I do not believe in them. I had one once, very cheap, pretty much like a pencil and some elastic, only worse, because I bought that elasticated pencil in a shop. It didn't really work. I didn't really use it. I called it a crappo. I lost it.

But this is a great post.

Also, every once in a long while I see someone playing who makes me realise that I am wrong about capos. But I'm still not getting one.
posted by motty at 9:16 PM on April 3, 2008


Kyser for the win!
posted by Hildegarde at 9:34 PM on April 3, 2008


capos are for the weak! use your fingers, kids.






personal opinions on capos notwithstanding, good post
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 9:36 PM on April 3, 2008


Oh, and:



I use a Dunlop trigger on my sanxian, since our songs change keys to match the range of our singers. Tuning a sanxian between each song is a pain.
posted by billtron at 8:36 PM on April 3 [+] [!]


You play that? Sweet! I had a roomate in conservatory who played shamisen... interesting instruments... This may seem like an obvious question, but do you play traditional chinese music?
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 9:42 PM on April 3, 2008


Ahh, a capo post (not that I've seen one before) that hasn't yet devolved into an argument about whether or not using a capo is cheating (that is, compensating for an inability to play a song in A flat which is of course a helluva a lot more difficult on the banjo and the guitar than playing a song in A.)

I will admit, as a keyboard player, to the greater sin of using the key change button to accommodate a singer's preference for one key over the traditional one. It's just lazy. But, if you've been playing "My Funny Valentine" in the traditional C minor version for decades, it takes a little work to change it to B flat minor. And a lot of work to change it to, say, F# minor. But, the limitations of the keyboard pale to the difficulties of transposing works on the banjo or guitar.

I remember playing French horn in a community orchestra where the phlegmatic postal worker slash horn player insisted on transposing the work from the original F to the concert C. The same passages were printed on adjoining pages: one in the original, one transposed for the modern (lazy? I don't really think so!) modern horn player.

At least he didn't try to play it really old school, where you use hand position in the bell instead of valves to alter the notes. (Although my horn teacher could demonstrate the technique...)
posted by kozad at 9:54 PM on April 3, 2008


capos are for the weak! use your fingers, kids.

Speaking as a sometimes Jazz musician: It ain't your fingers; it's your brains.
posted by sourwookie at 10:09 PM on April 3, 2008


capos are for the weak! use your fingers, kids.

Sometimes you want that open-chord ring in more than three keys.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:19 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I use a Dunlop trigger on my sanxian, since our songs change keys to match the range of our singers. Tuning a sanxian between each song is a pain.
posted by billtron at 8:36 PM on April 3 [+] [!]

You play that? Sweet! I had a roomate in conservatory who played shamisen... interesting instruments... This may seem like an obvious question, but do you play traditional chinese music?


I do play traditional Chinese music, but I'm self taught, since there aren't as many tutors of the sanxian as there are the erhu or guqin here in NYC. I've even taught master classes!

But mostly I play in an Okinawan pop band.


Sometimes you want that open-chord ring in more than three keys.


Okinawan music is all about open open strings. Thus the capo.
posted by billtron at 10:57 PM on April 3, 2008


Capos are also very useful for lute music played on classical guitar. Our notions of what classical instruments should sound like were radically revised in the Romantic period, and so the brightness of the Renaissance lute is difficult to achieve on the guitar without the twangy overtones of ponticello playing. To keep the guitar tuned in E, rather than the lute-standard G, would be to be abuse even more the intended sound of that music.
posted by invitapriore at 11:39 PM on April 3, 2008


Excellent stuff! I still have my old Hamilton, but mainly use a Kyser (when I use a capo at all).
posted by No Mutant Enemy at 12:31 AM on April 4, 2008


...pencil and rubber band.

You had me thinking something like this.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:35 AM on April 4, 2008


Now, if only it had a quick and concise way of answering the "what does that thing on your guitar do?' question from non-players. Somehow every explanation I give is met with blank stares.
posted by Adam_S at 5:13 AM on April 4, 2008


If your friends can't deal with "It raises the key up a couple steps" then you should upgrade your friends.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:35 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ahh, a capo post (not that I've seen one before) that hasn't yet devolved into an argument about whether or not using a capo is cheating

It's one among many choices for getting the intonation you're looking for. Sometimes transposition works fine - sometimes the voicing isn't what you're after. Also, if you play a lot improvisationally or in sessions, it's extremely helpful. I'm sure a lot of people use capos because they don't know how to transpose, but many experienced musicians do both, and choose the method that suits the goals and the occasion. That, and you can get some extremely cool effects using partial capo-ing.
posted by Miko at 6:14 AM on April 4, 2008


Oh, you musician kids and your crazy words. When I was a kid, the Capo museum was any of a number of prisons in New York State.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 6:26 AM on April 4, 2008


Invitapriore ... I think your comments are dead on for the Renaissance corpus, but the lute in the Baroque period was clearly moving into some "dark" territory, ex., Weiss and Bach, and heaven knows, starting out I used a capo on the guitar to "hear" the tuning better.

But when I started playing on a theorboe and hitting those diapasons, that all went out the window ... and got a lot less brighter!

Also, since lutes came in different sizes/voicings for consorts, the "brightness" you attribute to the pitch of the G-tuned lute doesn't not apply, as "G" is not so much a standard ... but the core intervals between the strings IS.

Much of what you are ascribing to the character of the sound comes from the instrument construction and structure and the techniques involved (flesh vs nail vs plectrum).

Having said that, I can usually tell when a guitarist has actually studied the lute when playing lute literature, even without using a capo (assuming that they are TRYING to be true to the music!).
posted by aldus_manutius at 6:52 AM on April 4, 2008


I've used the Hamilton Fretspanner for years on my Martin Twelve- only thing I ever found that didn't completely change the tuning. Have several, just in case one walks away.
posted by drhydro at 7:27 AM on April 4, 2008


Oh- and it's always used. To avoid the dreaded Martin Archtop effect, I've always tuned down a full note and capo-ed up two frets. Hasn't totally eliminated the effect, but goes a long way on a 42-year-old 12-string.
posted by drhydro at 7:33 AM on April 4, 2008


Ahh, a capo post (not that I've seen one before) that hasn't yet devolved into an argument about whether or not using a capo is cheating

I second the notion that many times a capo is used to achieve a different sound, not necessarily just to make it easier to play in a different key.
posted by kingbenny at 8:04 AM on April 4, 2008


Also, Shubb ftw.
posted by kingbenny at 8:04 AM on April 4, 2008


Pencil and rubber band: now why didn't I think of that!
posted by not_on_display at 7:58 AM on April 8, 2008


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