So, can you use a capo on a bass guitar? How do you play bass with a capo? Will using a capo affect the tone of your bass guitar? Why do you rarely see bass guitarists use a capo on their bass guitars? When it comes to using a capo, we regularly see many acoustic guitar players and some electric guitar players use them when performing, but we rarely see bass guitarists use them in their performances, and that is why we are here to find out the truth about the capo and the bass guitar.
So first, what is a capo, and what is its history? The word capo is taken from the Italian language, which means head, and it is a musical accessory that clamps onto the neck of a stringed instrument, which results in a shortened length of the strings while their pitch is raised. It is usually fastened across the strings of a stringed instrument like a guitar but can also be used on other stringed instruments.
One of the advantages of using a capo is that it will allow you to play a song in different keys while you use the first-position open-string chord forms, which results in a more droning and fully resonant tone. A capo can be similar to a guitar nut but moveable. It can be affixed to any fret of the stringed instrument below its neck joint and can still provide the same kind of result when terminating vibrations.
So, how was it invented? The first capo has been known to mankind is dated back to the mid-1700s. It is made from a single piece of metal, maybe brass, and is curved to cup and be able to squeeze the neck. These capos do not have any tension adjustment options, and their C-shape body only allows you to slip into your preferred position from the side.
Today, there are already more than six different types of capo you can choose from, and all of them are more than capable of executing their job ideally based on their specific purposes. Lately, one of the latest modifications of the device is called the partial capo. It does not fully encircle the neck, but its purpose is to clamp the strings partially, whether two, three, four, or five, but not all six strings. This gives you plenty of tone variations without even changing the tune of your stringed instrument.
What Are The Advantages Of Using Capo On Bass Guitars?
Although it is unusual for bass players to use a capo on bass guitars while performing, there are still some advantages when you use this device on your bass guitar, and we are going to discuss some of these things.
Using Capo Will Help You When Playing Bass Chords
We all know that when playing basic tones, you only need to play bass notes, but when you start to enhance your skills as a bassist, you will also have to learn how to play bass chords. Playing bass chords will impact your performance more, as only a few bassists play the bass guitar using chords. Chords can add fullness to your playing, so you must learn how to play them as a bassist.
When you use a capo on bass guitar, you can still use the same chord structure even if you play in different keys. Playing also in higher parts of the fingerboard sounds much clearer and better than in lower tones. All in all, using a capo on your bass guitar will allow you to play many bass chords with ease.
Perfect For Playing Altered Tunings
Using a spider capo is one of the best ways to play the bass guitar with altered tunings. If you are not familiar with the spider capo, it is a type of capo that allows you to fret a specific string or strings without the need to fret every string on the instrument. It has six rungs that allow you to adjust them individually.
It is not all the time that you are going to play standard tuning on your bass guitar, so having one and being able to use them every time if needed is the perfect way to cope and adjust for playing style to what is needed from you as the bassist.
Playing Tapping Techniques In Bass Guitar
Although tapping is rarely executed in bass guitars, as you usually see them done by guitar players, you can still use it and master this technique, as maybe you will need to do it in some of your performances. Using capo will help you a lot when you play legato runs, arpeggios, or even sweep picking, as your fingers will not be far from each other because of the capo.
When you try to place the capo on a higher fret, it will give you more access to play the advanced bass playing techniques into different genres of playing style. So whether you have to be fast or slow, you can use the capo to enhance your music.
Taking Advantage Of The Open Strings
Just like when you play the guitar, open-string notes can really sound a bit different from the usual, as it can also be a little bit soothing to listen to. It is also the same with the bass guitar. When you try to slap or execute hammer-ons, open strings are really an important factor when doing these techniques, and putting a capo on your bass guitar will only do so much better to the sound.
Having a capo will also give your bass guitar a bit different sound, which can help, especially when you are recording tracks, as it will surely sound different from what you are used to hearing from your bass guitar without a capo. Putting a capo on the bass guitar will change the equivalent note for your open strings, so this is just one of the things you should look out for.
Easier To Play
When you play a song that requires you to move your hand up and down from the fingerboard frequently, then maybe you need to use a capo on the bass guitar. When you place a capo on the bass guitar, it also changes the placement of the notes, and this can help you to reduce your hands from moving up and down so much without sacrificing the tone of the instrument.
Not every song gives you an easy time playing it, as even if you usually have four strings on a bass guitar, there are still times that you have to play in larger distances. It can be a hassle, especially if you are still a beginner or you have small hands, and this is why using a capo can be a great fix for the problem.
When You Want To Explore And Just Have Fun
Trying out new things as a bassist will help you become a better musician, and trying out using a capo can be one of the things that you should do for fun. You will maybe like doing it in the long run.
So, can you use a capo on a bass guitar? Absolutely. Although it is not as usual that you see bass players use a capo on bass guitars, you can use it if you want to. You can also have some positives when you play the bass guitar with a capo in it.