A capo, or, rarely, capo tasto (from Italian capo, "head" and tasto, "tie or fret") is a device used on the neck of a stringed (typically fretted) instrument to shorten the playable length of the strings, hence raising the pitch. It is frequently used on guitars, mandolins, and banjos. G.B. Doni first used the term in his Annotazioni of 1640, though capo use likely began earlier in the 17th-century. Alternative terms are capo d'astro and capodastro, also Italian.
The capo is most commonly used to raise the pitch of an instrument so that a player can perform a piece in a certain key using different fingerings than they would use if played "open" (i.e. without a capo). In effect, a capo uses a fret of an instrument to create a new nut at a higher note than the instrument's actual nut. No matter the style, the capo is typically placed as close to the desired fret as possible, just behind the fret. This holds the strings down behind the fret as securely as possible with the sharpest possible angle to ensure they will remain fretted.
A partial capo is a type of a capo designed to capo only some of the strings of an instrument. This may appear to have a similar effect to alternate tunings, but there are differences. A common example is a capo which covers the top five strings of a guitar leaving the bass E string uncapoed. When played at the second fret, this appears to create a drop D tuning (where the bass E string is detuned to a D) raised one full tone in pitch. In fact, these are often marketed as "drop D capoes". However, the same difference applies with a drop D capo as with a regular capo; namely, only the open tuning of the strings is affected, and thus, when used at the second fret, an E chord using the D shape will have the "Drop D sound" with a low E note. However, a G-shape chord can be played as well, as the fretted E string will not be affected as it would be if the string was retuned.
Famous quotes containing the word partial:
“We were soon in the smooth water of the Quakish Lake,... and we had our first, but a partial view of Ktaadn, its summit veiled in clouds, like a dark isthmus in that quarter, connecting the heavens with the earth.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)