Dave Byers Blog

Is your capo making your guitar out of tune?

I'm not big on taking several guitars to a gig. I love to travel as light as possible so I'm always taking just one guitar. Some tunes require a capo or I will use a odd capo for dadgad or drop D etc tuning. But often I find a regular capo or specialty capo will pull my guitar out of tune. Either all sharp or in specialty capo situations all the strings the capo is fretting will be sharp. What a drag! Well I have the solution and am going to share it with you. Rather than place the capo just behind the fret or especially in the middle of the fret place it very close to the fret you are capoing on or almost on top if you have to.
When a capo knocks your guitar out of tune it's because the capo is squeezing much harder than you would typically squeeze when fretting with your finger. New capos especially will have pretty strong spring tenstion. This pulls the note a little harder which rasies the pitch of the string and thus takes your guitar out of tune. If you capo in the middle of the fret that is the greatest distance between the fret height to the fingerboard. Jumbo fret guitars (which I play the most of) especially have this issue. With my suggestion you will be fretting right next to or slightly on top of the fret which will squeeze the string to the fret rather than all the way down to the fingerboard and thus not raise the pitch of the string.
Similar to taking a note and bending it up that bend raises the pitch of the string. If you press very hard (especially on larger fret guitars) like a capo sometimes does it can have a little of that same effect in raising the pitch of the string/strings enough to cause you to be out of tune. Try my suggestion and hopefully it helps you with capo tuning also.

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