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TDF5G

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Reply with quote  #1 

Here's a little topic that hopefully will generate a little discussion here on the forum.

I was jamming at the SPBGMA event in Jefferson City MO last weekend.  We were taking a short break to switch instruments (no one seemed to want to play bass very bad) and a fellow,which I noticed that had been listening to us, approached me with a question: "Why do you bluegrass pickers use capos?"

I had never been asked that before.  He said that he was raised around country music and he claimed he very rarely sees a capo used in country music.  But he noticed bluegrass pickers use them all the time.  

My answer to him was simply that, us bluegrassers today use capos because our heros of the first generation did, and that is who we try and emulate, for the most part.   IMO that is the real reason, but I went on to elaborate to him my opinion on why the first generation bluegrass stars used them.   I'll share my opinion later on, but first I'd like to hear what others opinions might be.

So what would your answer to this guy have been?
Why do you bluegrass pickers use capos?

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mtcross

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Reply with quote  #2 
I'm no expert, but I have been playing Bluegrass almost exclusively since I started playing a smidge over four years ago, so here goes:

I think the biggest reason is that the leads sound better when played near the nut so you can play open strings. I have tried playing leads farther down the neck and,  most times, it just doesn't sound right.

I also play with a  capo so I can more easily follow the chord changes, I'm not quite to the point where I can "transpose", for instance, open A to A out of the C position capo two...
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Steve Blanchard

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Reply with quote  #3 
Two reasons...guitar voicing and getting the open strings...not much to do with history..just the sound.  Happy picking!  Steve
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Steve Blanchard
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FlatpickFreak

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Reply with quote  #4 
To play the old fiddle tunes in proper key along with fiddlers was the "historic" reason I thought, since it's easier to change key on guitar to match a fiddle vs other way around. And also to play in a key that more matches your voice if your one of them thar singin' types.
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Skydog

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Reply with quote  #5 
One aspect of capos that used to drive me nuts was when, at bluegrass jams, a player would holler, “this one's in G”. This usually meant capoed at the third fret, but most of them didn't understand how that wasn't necessarily so, depending on the associated chord shapes.
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