Posted September 22nd, 2008 by admin with Comments Off
“Hello. My name is Shannon, and I use a capo.”
*GROUP RESPONDS: “Hello Shannon!“
I admit it – I’ve thought that before about “Capo Users”. I’ve gotten hand-cramps for the sake of my glorious anti-capo-dom. I’ve forced complex songs into simpler keys, far outside my sweet-spot vocally, to massage my ego and not use a capo. I’ve played chord-shapes that don’t ideally befit the riff/hook for the sake of being that guy who’s “better than the capo users”. Yes, on rare occasions I used a capo, but only on open tuned guitars – the fact that I had 4 guitars on stage, 3 of which were in alternate tunings, gave me enough “cool points” to counteract the evil capo – sorta like buying “Carbon Credits”.
In ‘03, however, I saw Shane & Shane live. That dude MASTERED the guitar, and he was a capo maniac: capos upon capos – cut capos inserted at odd angles into other cut capos. I think at one point he had to be using a capo on his vocal chords, too – Mr. Bernard’s range is pretty …well… “pretty” – in the “female” sense of the word. Is it normal for a guy to sing soprano? In all seriousness, I love Shane & Shane, and that show was where I realize that a capo is a tool (and not in the sense that some people may consider me one at times – oh no! Did I just go Mark-Driscoll on you?!!). Just like any tool, it has it’s purpose, and can also be misused.
So here’s my theory of Capo: please don’t use it as a crutch to hide the fact that you only know 3 chords – that’s sad. Granted, if you DO only know 3 chords, and you’re asked to lead worship somewhere, I’d rather you used a capo and play well than not use one and be an obnoxious distraction. However, let your goal be to learn the real chords, and use them when it sounds good. However, some songs only sound ‘right’ with certain chord shapes on the guitar, and a capo is how you get those shapes. ”Marvelous Light” is the greatest example: the song is most singable, and in my opinion, grooves best in ‘B’, however if you play a ‘B’ chord shape (any of them) on an acoustic guitar to drive the song you really loose the bright, ‘jangly-ness’ of the song. Playing a B, E, G#m, F#, & etc. on an acoustic has ‘thump’ on the low-end (which is why I don’t capo “Sweetly Broken”, though it’s the same chord progression – the ‘bottom end’ of the chord progression helps keep the song ‘weighty’), but capo to the 4th fret, and play a G-shape, C9, Em7, & etc – their is a brightness, and a continuity in the changes (particularly on the high end) that carries the song.
Therefore, I repent – or rather, I repented some time ago. Use a capo, but not as a crutch – use it as a tool. Use it to open up your guitar to tones that help you blend into an overall band setting, give brightness or weight to a progression, depending on the song’s ‘mood’, or even – as Shane & Shane do with cut capos – to significantly alter your guitar’s tuning in a flash (not just up a step, but from Standard, to open G, or drop D). Used this way a capo can really open up the breadth of what your guitar is capable of.
So, “Hello. My name is Shannon, and I use a capo.”
Posted September 21st, 2008 by admin with Comments Off
In one sense, I’ve not always been a musician, but in that sense, no one has. However, my very earliest memories – sitting on an old couch in my living room in South Western Ohio listening to “Abbey Road” by the Beatles with my folks – have left me ruined for much thought of a life without it. My lonely years as the awkward child in elementary school were comforted by the Beatles, and eventually the Police and Tears for Fears, singing to myself while swinging, often alone, on the swings at recess. Those led to my ’suicidal years’ – and who doesn’t want to kill themselves at least some time between 7th & 10th grade – when I was comforted and befriended by Pink Floyd, and their vast catalogue of psychedelia. Sure, I did the ‘piano lessons’ thing for a time, but I think I dropped those by the 3rd grade. Through it all, I wrote – I have probably a hundred pages of songs I had written – melody & lyrics – during those formidable years. When I first turned 15, however, I was thrown into the fire…
My grandfather had been in a mental institution since forever. I never met him. Not too long after my grandmother’s best friend died, her widowed husband moved in with her – they lived right next door. He played guitar – WELL! Late one evening after I had finished my homework I took to the path behind our house and went to grandma’s. That’s when I held my first guitar…this one:
A Chet Atkins Gretch – one of the first electric guitars to have a tremelo bar. Even better, this was CHET ATKINS OWN GUITAR, now owned by his brother, Buddy, who was my grandma’s live-in’s jammin’ partner! For the next year or more I ran next door nightly to learn the basics from someone of his generation: “Wabash Canonball” & “Blue moon of Kentucky”, for starters. The infatuation with guitars took hold of me so deep that I volunteered to take over as songwriter/manager/background vocalist for a local highschool metal band with a lot of turn-over. It wasn’t long until it was my band, and I was the lead singer and primary songwriter, when weren’t covering Bon Jovi (remember, they rocked once), Scorpions, Irons Maiden, Motley Cru, or Slayer. Eventually we all ended up Christians, and the lyrical content changed significantly, but that’s another story. Next, I bought my own guitar…
Mine was actually far uglier: pink snakeskin, with gold accessories. A true glam-metal axe if there ever were one. What I find even more interesting is the sales associate who sold me on it: at the time he was on break from his primary gig, and was simply working at a guitar shop & singing lead for the local band The Bears (who rocked, I should add). However, his name was Adrian, and his primary ‘gig’ was as a world-famous producer, and the lead singer/guitarist of King Crimson. Oddly enough, my musical tastes would soon shift, and that guitar played far more music by the Cure, U2, and the Church (bring on the delay!) than it ever did metal. Odd.
Of course, this was still only the beginning… more to come.