Using A Partial Capo (Cool Trick)

partial-guitar-capoIn previous guitar lessons I’ve covered how to use a guitar capo and how to transpose with a guitar capo, but in this lesson we’re going to take a slightly different approach to the capo – we’re going to only use it on part of the fretboard!

So grab your guitar capo, and place it on the second fret – but don’t let it touch the low E string, the 6th string. (See the pic on the left) Leave as much room as possible for that string, because it will be vibrating and buzzing around a bit, and it does need it’s personal space! Remember, it’s a good idea to re-check the tuning on your guitar at this point.

What we’ve done here is create a tuning that looks like this: E-B-E-A-C#-F#. This is very similar to Drop D tuning, which would be the same thing but a whole tone down. However, there is one major difference, and that is that we’ve not actually changed the tuning; we added a capo. Therefore, the intervals between the strings are the same as in standard tuning, and none of our chord shapes break, unless they’re using the open 6th string.

What I mean by that is you can go ahead and play a G major the same as you normally would, (properly moving up two frets to accommodate the capo of course) and there is no problem. In Drop D tuning, you’d have to totally change how you created that G major chord, because of the difference in tuning.

So that presents some interesting possibilities, chief of which is getting that low E to really ring out nice and beautifully, while shifting everything else into a slightly higher pitch. In my ever so humble opinion, this creates a really cool effect, and it’s something I’ve been playing around with quite a bit since I shot this video.

So grab your guitar and capo, and let’s dig into a few cool things that you can do with this alternate tuning.

Watch on Youtube

Leave a Reply 5 comments

steve - December 24, 2013 Reply

great easy lesson

Kingman - December 24, 2013 Reply

Can you play “harvest moon” with the capo on II then? The original song by Neil Young calls for Drop D tuning…will check it out for sure

    Jonathan Boettcher - December 24, 2013 Reply

    I’m not familiar with that song, and this tuning is different than Drop D; however you can achieve similar effects by using it, in certain keys. Sounds like you’ve got something to experiment with now though!

Farley Fox - December 25, 2013 Reply

I have been trying to figure out Leo Kottke’s alternate tunings.

jstin Darosa - January 4, 2014 Reply

Nice lesson Jonathan sometimes your words that you say are not synchronize the
same thing with your guitar your hand will not be on the strings and It will be like you strum-ed a cord with your right hand but your hand will be resting on the guitar.

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