When Chris Bradley was busy designing what would become the Thalia Capo (after an idea from his daughter Thalia), he wanted to create something easier to use than other capos on the market, as well as make something worthy of the beautiful acoustic guitars available on the market. Capos are indispensable tools for any guitarist and have often become necessary in certain situations.
Realistically, unless you have the left-hand prowess (and stretchy-ness) of Allan Holdsworth, you’re just going to need a capo to play certain songs properly. So, here are some capo-centric songs that will go along nicely with your beautiful Thalia capo (or any capo for that matter, we just happen to like ours!)
Hotel California - The Eagles
Probably one of the most famous songs to make use of a capo, Don Felder originally wrote the song in E minor. While the original version had some weight because of where the chords sat in the guitar’s range, it was out of range for Don Henley’s voice. So, out comes the capo and seven (!) frets later, “Hotel California” took its final shape in the key of B minor.
Added note, check out Glenn Frey using a capo at the second fret in the live video above, playing the song in B minor as if it were in A minor! Certainly easier than barred chords on a 12-string!
Free Fallin’ - Tom Petty
Tom Petty is the master of the three-chord song, and this is a prime example. The song is in the key of F major, but Petty and Co. employ capos to great effect here. One guitar has a capo on the first fret, allowing the use of chords from the key of E major, while another guitar has a capo on the third fret, the song played as if it was in D major. What you get with this combination is a beautiful jangle and full sound from this enhanced doubling effect (a nice studio trick to keep in your back pocket.)
Wonderwall - Oasis
The official song of parties, campfires, get-togethers and other forms of tomfoolery for a certain time (including the unavoidable “You play guitar? Can you play Wonderwall?”, the song was (and sometimes is) practically inescapable! In the key of F# minor, but is played as if in E minor, thanks to a capo at the second fret.
So, if someone flashes you those baby blues requesting “Wonderwall”, slap that capo on and go!
Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles
Abbey Road is, in this author’s opinion, the Beatles at their peak as far as production, playing and especially songwriting, especially from George Harrison. This lovely folk ballad, in the key of A major, can only be played with a capo up at the seventh fret using voicings from D major (with some other borrowed chords). Anything else and it just doesn’t sound right.
Pretty much any song by Albert Collins
For you aspiring blues guitarists who wish to copy the stylings of Albert Collins, you will need a capo.
The Master of the Telecaster (as he’s known) had a very unorthodox way of playing the guitar. Rather than using standard tuning, Collins would tune his guitar to open F minor (F, C, F, Ab, C, F) and move the capo to accommodate whatever key he was playing in (so if he was playing in A minor, he would capo the fourth fret and play his signature licks from there). Though this may seem odd, it was quite effective.
Rylynn - Andy McKee
Fingerstyle acoustic guitar playing got a big shot of interest and rejuvenation when McKee’s song “Drifting” went viral. Thanks to that gem, we got to know McKee’s other compositions, including “Rylynn”. What makes this song interesting for our purposes is the capo he uses. Rather than a traditional one, he uses a banjo capo to grab the top four strings at the fifth fret of this guitar, leaving the bottom two open. The guitar itself is in an altered tuning (E, C, D, G, A, D) but gets more interesting with the banjo capo (A, F, G, C, A, D). Something fun and inspiring to try for yourself!
Landslide - Fleetwood Mac
A fantastic ballad from the 1975 self-titled album, the song is in Eb major but played with chords in the key of C major thanks to a capo on the third fret. The song makes for an excellent Travis Picking exercise, and the brighter sound offered by moving the key up via the capo adds some extra sparkle to the tone. Not one to be overlooked!
We’ve only really scratched the surface on this list of songs that make great use of the capo; we can certainly add dozens more! Hopefully, these examples show the possibilities offered by the capo, playing familiar chords in new keys, the jangle of higher-pitched open strings, and the layering possibilities when creating and recording guitar parts for compositions (see “Free Fallin’” for a great example). We think a capo is a great tool; please check out our products page to find a capo that’s right for you!
By Kevin Daoust - instagram.com/kevindaoust.gtr
Kevin Daoust is a guitarist, guitar educator and writer based in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. When not tracking guitars for artists around the world, or writing music-related articles around the internet, he can be seen on stage with Accordion-Funk legends Hey, Wow, the acoustic duo Chanté et Kev, as well as a hired gun guitarist around Quebec and Ontario. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.