While it is not uncommon to see musicians use capos on acoustic guitars, is it okay to use this device on an electric guitar? Some people may disagree with this, but in most cases, there is absolutely no reason why one couldn’t use a capo on an electric guitar.
Obviously, an electric guitar is made for soloing, and the proof of this is the fact that it has more frets than an acoustic guitar. But, there are many times when musicians are playing chords and not doing any leadwork. If the guitar player wants to play in a higher register, a capo is often much more convenient than having to stop and re-tune a guitar.
While it is a whole lot easier to play barre chords on an electric guitar than on an acoustic, there are still many times when a capo can come in pretty handy. Today we are going to take a look at when to use a capo, whether or not an acoustic capo can be used on an electric guitar, and when to not use a capo. Let’s get started.
When should You Use a Capo?
There are a few different instances when you may want to use a capo on an electric guitar. For instance, if you are a beginning guitar player, barre chords can be quite challenging.
It may be helpful to use a capo, at least for a little while, until you build up the hand strength for barre chords. Of course, there will come a time when you will need to be able to play barre chords, so the capo should only be used for this purpose in the very early stages.
Here are some more instances when you might want to use a capo on an electric guitar:
- When the original artist of a song used a capo
- If the song isn’t in the right key for the singer
- Playing around with various tunings
Using an Acoustic Capo on an Electric Guitar
One of the biggest differences between acoustic and electric guitars is the amount of string tension. There is far more tension on an acoustic guitar, which makes it much more difficult to play barre chords, so a capo can be a pretty important tool at times.
A capo for an acoustic guitar is usually spring-loaded, since the action is a lot higher than it would be on an electric guitar. More pressure is needed to play the notes, and it can be quite difficult to play barre chords, especially if you are a beginner. A capo for an electric guitar works with screws and the tension is much lower.
An acoustic guitar capo will work on an electric guitar, but it is a much better idea to purchase a capo that is meant for the type of guitar you use. Over time, using acoustic guitar capos can cause a lot of wear and tear on an electric guitar.
When Not to Use a Capo on an Electric Guitar
While it is okay to use a capo on an electric guitar in most instances, there is one instance when you should never do this. If the neck of your guitar is finished with nitro, or new nitrocellulose lacquer, it is not a good idea to use a capo at any time.
Obviously, a bit of wear from your hands is fine, but a capo can really do a number on this type of finish. It is used to create a very specific look on a guitar, and if that is the look you love, you don’t want to take a chance on destroying it. After all, if you are spending a lot of money for this particular finish, the last thing you want to do is destroy it with a capo.
Now, you may hear some acoustic guitar players say that it is fine to use a capo on an acoustic guitar that has a nitro finish. This is true, but only to a point. Most acoustic guitars have necks that are made with darker woods, so the wear isn’t going to show up as much as it would on an electric guitar.
Some guitars, such as many Fender guitars that have a “thin skin nitro finish” will really show that wear and tear, and no one in their right mind would want to ruin a Fender guitar.
If you prefer to play an electric guitar rather than an acoustic guitar, and you want to use a capo while playing, go for it.
There is no reason why you can’t use one, and there are actually several reasons why musicians do like to use them. It’s not something you will likely be using all of the time, but it is a handy little tool to have kicking around when you do need it.