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Bass with capo?


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#1 josie

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:20 PM

Has anyone here used - or seen a bass player using - a capo?

There's a fairly naff trio local to me whose bass player uses a capo for almost every song. Often on a different fret to the two guitarists, which makes it even more peculiar.

I understand that, on a standard 6-string guitar, there's an offset from the G to B string, which makes it hard to transpose, so the capo effectively shifts the nut. And that that's why a 5-string bass player who wants to go higher rather than lower tunes to high C rather than to B.

But on a standard 4-string bass, why not just learn where the notes are on the fret board and play them?

Or am I missing something???
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#2 Chrismanbass

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:54 PM

maybe something to do with having to use open strings for a certain riff to make it work for example Living on a prayer in any key other than Em doesn't flow properly to me as theres always a small jump between the first two notes of the line

but i've always done it in EM or Ebm (tuned half step down) so never been an issue


but for simply transposing there shouldn't be any excuse really but hey if it works for people then who am I to judge
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#3 lojo

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 05:46 AM

Don't do but seen it done , It wouldn't suit me but I definitely in the there should be no rules camp these days , to many players think there are right and wrong ways to make nice noises

As for key changes , most changes I come across want to take you down the board into D tuning or 5 strings , so I can't think of a situation where a capo would help me without the line sounding to high

Edited by lojo, 19 May 2017 - 05:46 AM.


#4 Trueno

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:04 AM

Maybe he really wants a short scale bass but can't be bothered/can't afford to buy one.
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#5 bartelby

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:08 AM

Alex in Ned's Atomic Dustbin used a capo quite a lot.

#6 xgsjx

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:09 AM

I remember seeing some band a few years back on the tv & the bass player was using a capo. IIRC, there was no need for him to use a capo & he just looked like a twonk.
Pretty sure there was a thread on here about it.

Unless it's really needed, capo on bass makes it look like the bass player is still learning bass.

#7 SpondonBassed

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:09 AM

View Postjosie, on 18 May 2017 - 11:20 PM, said:

Has anyone here used - or seen a bass player using - a capo?

There's a fairly naff trio local to me whose bass player uses a capo for almost every song. Often on a different fret to the two guitarists, which makes it even more peculiar.

I understand that, on a standard 6-string guitar, there's an offset from the G to B string, which makes it hard to transpose, so the capo effectively shifts the nut. And that that's why a 5-string bass player who wants to go higher rather than lower tunes to high C rather than to B.

But on a standard 4-string bass, why not just learn where the notes are on the fret board and play them?

Or am I missing something???

Good question. I'd hate to have to use one myself but it's simply because it reminds me of nuns with guitars trying to be "down with the youth".

Attached File  monthly_05_2017/post-39997-0-33308800-1495174916.png   642.58K

Edited by SpondonBassed, 19 May 2017 - 06:22 AM.

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#8 joeystrange

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:52 AM

I saw a covers band years ago who played a couple of System of a Down (who tune CGCF) songs on a 5-string with a capo on the first fret.

Also, I believe Mark Hoppus (blink 182) plays one song live with a capo on the third fret as the studio version is played on an upright tuned to G.
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Posted 19 May 2017 - 07:15 AM

Here's me back in the day using one. I used to tune EAEG then put a capo across the top two strings so I could get a drone thing going on. It worked well in the intro and quieter bits of this song which aren't really shown In this vid!

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#10 PaulGibsonBass

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:13 AM

I'm sure I've seen footage of Lemmy using a capo on his Rick.
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#11 Fozza

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:14 AM

If you search the web you'll find a couple of pics of Paul McCartney in the 60's with a capo so it's not a new thing by any means.

#12 hubrad

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:24 AM

I'll use a capo on guitar (mostly acoustic) without problem; as said above, for certain things involving open strings it's needed.
On bass it confuses the heck out of me.. what's that about? I capoed a 35" scale fretless at '1st fret', which gave the effect of 33" scale for an experiment. I was all over the place! :blink:
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#13 Ghost_Bass

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:24 AM

I never had the need to use one for the songs i've been playing as i use a 5 string bass (heck, i've even learned how to play Killing In The Name without drop-D) but i've read some interesting replies here that bring up some valid points for using it:

- having songs on the set list that need lines with open strings (SOAD example)

- tunning the bass a step back in D and use capo on the 2nd fret to make it short scale for someone struggling with back issues or has dificulty to reach the first fret.

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#14 SpondonBassed

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:36 AM

So... you don't actually need to dress as a nun to get good use from one? Much relieved. I'll have a crate of those then please.

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#15 Barking Spiders

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 02:58 PM

I'm more likely to dress up as a nun than ever use a capo on a bass again. Tried it once but i cant see the point. For me capos are only for fingerstyle on 6 string acoustics

#16 ambient

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 03:09 PM

There's a solo bassist I know uses one when he's tapping, I guess it's for when he's playing open strings.

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#17 Geek99

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 03:40 PM

i shamelessly use a capo when I'm feeling too tired to think about moving a pattern to another key

I've not troubled what anyone else thinks
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#18 itsmedunc

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 05:45 PM

I used to use one on one song. It enabled me to tap on a particular song that sounded far better with an open C. It would have been impossible to play without a capo.
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#19 tonyquipment

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:21 PM

Nah never seen it done. It would just confuse me lol
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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:49 PM

If you have to tune down for one song and can't be bothered to do it during a set, then the capo could be used to play in normal EADG then when you remove the capo...Abracadabra....you're in drop down tuning.

Replace the capo and you're back to normal tuning.

I've never done it but it sounds very feasible.
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#21 Graham

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 07:06 PM

Martin Mendez of Opeth uses one for the song Windowpane


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#22 pete.young

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 07:44 PM

View PostChrismanbass, on 18 May 2017 - 11:54 PM, said:

maybe something to do with having to use open strings for a certain riff to make it work for example Living on a prayer in any key other than Em doesn't flow properly to me

You don't do the key change into Cm then?

I sometime use 2 capos, when I want one on the first fret a second on the 14th fret in order to measure the clearance at the 7th fret to work out whether the bow in the neck is right.

Other than that, no.
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Posted 19 May 2017 - 07:50 PM

I used one at my graduation concert, on a 5-string with high C in an alternate tuning (can't remember what it was :mellow:) to play a James Vincent McMorrow song.
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#24 ZilchWoolham

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:01 PM

On acoustic guitar I use a capo all the time, because I like to involve a lot of open strings, and I'd like to be able to do so in several keys. Also, open chords with a capo somewhere up high like the seventh fret have a very sweet and unique timbre.

As for bass, sometimes you'll find yourself playing bits that really wouldn't be particularly playable if you'd have to fret every note, and if you have to transpose it a capo would certainly be handy, but I've never had to use one myself for that reason. I have used one for another reason, though. A lot of Andy Rourke's parts with The Smiths were played on a bass tuned to F#, to match Johnny Marr's guitars of the same tuning. Out of curiosity, I've sometimes placed a capo on the second fret to get a feel for how he originally fingered those songs. None of them really needs it to be playable, but a tune like Barbarism Begins at Home did feel a bit more fluid that way.

#25 SpondonBassed

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 06:38 AM

View PostGeek99, on 19 May 2017 - 03:40 PM, said:

i shamelessly use a capo when I'm feeling too tired to think about moving a pattern to another key

I've not troubled what anyone else thinks

I like the idea as a "get out of jail free" option to have in the bag when jamming but I'd want to relearn, in my own time, the tune on an open fretboard later. I don't have any tunes in my rep that require special tunings other than drop D for which I have a five. I like to keep things simple.

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#26 SpondonBassed

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 06:46 AM

View PostBassAgent, on 19 May 2017 - 07:50 PM, said:

I used one at my graduation concert, on a 5-string with high C in an alternate tuning (can't remember what it was :mellow:) to play a James Vincent McMorrow song.
https://www.youtube....h?v=AtmYzr4pcD0

Beautiful.

Best of all... neither of you looked like nuns!

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#27 louisthebass

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 06:52 AM

Looks like bass players were using them back in the 1950's:



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#28 tom skool

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 08:35 AM

When playing just f and g throughout 'baby please don't go'(Them), fatigue and lactic acid used to creep in. Eventually I just thought sod it, and I now capo the first fret. Much easier


#29 Paul S

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 09:03 AM

I considered it only recently. One of my bands decided to start playing Steely Dan's 'Josie' which makes much use of an open E string. Trouble is the singer also decided he couldn't sing it unless it was in D. Capo on the 3rd fret of a 5er would have done it but in the end I just decided to cut short the low D a fraction to give me time to get up the dusty end for those little slidey bits. Although I still miss occasionally :) It has a greater impact on the guitar parts, though and doesn't quite sound the same.

#30 Geek99

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 09:26 AM

 SpondonBassed, on 20 May 2017 - 06:38 AM, said:



I like the idea as a "get out of jail free" option to have in the bag when jamming but I'd want to relearn, in my own time, the tune on an open fretboard later. I don't have any tunes in my rep that require special tunings other than drop D for which I have a five. I like to keep things simple.
Sure but I only play st OM nights and get zero practice time so it's my best option
I'm probably reading on an iPhone and so cant see signatures and locations as I'm likely using the lo-fi version..Please be understanding if I ask for this information for the usual reasons.

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