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Feb 13, 2018 - 2:22:02 PM
20 posts since 12/24/2015

Hi all,

I'm an experienced guitarist learning banjo, total beginner on banjo. . .I've noticed on chord charts that playing in the key of A would have you barring at the second fret a lot -- what would an experienced player do, barre the A, use a capo? Use an alternative voicing on the A chord?

If this is a common question please feel free to point me towards a thread -- thanks for any information!

J. House

Feb 13, 2018 - 3:23:54 PM

Jbo1

USA

522 posts since 5/19/2007

If you are playing in the key of A, it would be typical to use a capo at the 2nd fret. If you are playing a 5 string banjo you would then need to raise the 5th string from G to A as well. You could tune it up to A, but that would change the tension on the string, and risk breaking it if done too often (and a time suck if on stage), or use a 5th string capo. There are several styles: a sliding capo is a long flat bar that attaches to the side of the neck, it features a wire piece that covers the string. Move it up or down to the fret needed. Or you can use spikes that are drilled into the neck (typically at the 7th, 9th and 10th frets). Hook the string under the spike and there you go. Or there are "L" shaped brackets that slip under the string and over the fret. These act as a nut for the string. Each has their good and bad points. I've use all of them, and as a personal preference I (and most people) use the hooks. But I also recently bought a bracket and do like it as well. Welcome to the banjo.

Feb 13, 2018 - 3:24:02 PM

20 posts since 12/24/2015

Lol, after reading more here about capos, it seems to be apparent that capos are often used, I just ordered one. . .also seems wise to be familiar with various voicings so playing un-capoed can be an option as well.

Was fascinating to read about the variety of capos -- didn't realize they got so "high end"!

Feb 13, 2018 - 3:32:34 PM

Mooooo

USA

3261 posts since 8/20/2016
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Before you ordered one, you should have asked what kind to get. That will lead to a lot of opinions and arguments on which is best. Hopefully you got one that is adjustable and not a spring loaded one. Good luck.

Feb 13, 2018 - 3:33:32 PM

20 posts since 12/24/2015

thanks Jim, you must have posted that right after I responded to myself. Thanks for the info!

Feb 13, 2018 - 3:36:37 PM
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20 posts since 12/24/2015

Yes Mike I should have -- got a Shubb and a Paige, the Paige says it's also useful for mando and the husband is coming along on mando. I found a thread where capos were discussed and it seemed a safe choice?

I liked some of the others but they can get expensive ;-)

Feb 13, 2018 - 3:39:11 PM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

21075 posts since 8/3/2003

You can also play in the key of A using the normal 4 finger chords or whatever part of those chords you need. Be sure to capo up the 5th string to A or stay off the 5th string. You don't have to use the barre A, either, although it is handy because you have 3 fingers free to fret other strings, you can use the A at 7, 5, 6, 7,  if you want a 4 finger chord or any other movable chord up the neck that will get you an A chord.

As far as capos, definitely get an adjustable one. I had one of the clamp types when I first started playing and it always sharpened the strings where I had to tweek each one every time I capoed and then retune or retweek afterwards. Adjustable capos make for much less retuning, tweeking.

Note:  changed the fingering for the A chord (a brain glitch that I didn't catch.  Should have had the banjo in my hands and I'd known it was wrong.   Thanks, Mike).

Edited by - Texasbanjo on 02/14/2018 04:50:07

Feb 13, 2018 - 3:47:08 PM

Mooooo

USA

3261 posts since 8/20/2016
Online Now

I think Sherry meant the A at the 7th fret 7657(lowest string to highest)

Feb 13, 2018 - 4:40:29 PM
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597 posts since 11/7/2003

I like Paige better than Shubb. I always felt like the Shubb affected tone and the adjustment on Paige, to mr, feels much more precise. And the biggie for a lot of folks, you can slide the Paige up behind he nut when you’re not capoed.

Feb 13, 2018 - 9:29:21 PM
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Jim Yates

Canada

6394 posts since 2/21/2007

I also like the Paige. One drawback is that it can't be used past the 4th (on some banjos the 5th) fret. This isn't a big deal since most banjo players don't venture that far up the neck very often.
I recently bought a D’Addario, Planet Waves capo that, although advertised as a ukulele capo, works beautifully on the five string, even past the 5th fret.

Feb 13, 2018 - 10:26:34 PM

2115 posts since 4/19/2008
Online Now

Hello neighbor, here's a great workshop by Don Reno, pay special attention to the 32 minute mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5ZBekhC5hI

Feb 14, 2018 - 7:51:42 AM

Jim Yates

Canada

6394 posts since 2/21/2007

Don did resort to a capo at times.

Here's that D'Adderio Planet Waves capo I mentioned in the last post.


Feb 14, 2018 - 8:08:11 AM
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Mooooo

USA

3261 posts since 8/20/2016
Online Now

If you learn to pick without a capo it will improve your musical knowledge and your command of the fretboard. If you play Bluegrass with a capo, you'll sound a lot better in certain keys. In other keys it is better not to capo. Let your ears tell you which is which. As a backup it is good to practice playing without a capo so if your capo breaks down or gets stolen or lost, you can still join in on the fun. But there are so many licks associated with the G, C, and D positions down the neck that it would be silly to ignore them. Up-the-neck is a different story. The capo helps you most in the first 5 frets. Get used to playing with and without one, don't rule out the use of your capo as some might suggest.

Edited by - Mooooo on 02/14/2018 08:10:16

Feb 14, 2018 - 8:19:47 AM

5050 posts since 3/6/2006

I actually loath capos but for a beginner, and definitely for bluegrass I would recommend using one.

Feb 14, 2018 - 8:58:09 AM
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1121 posts since 4/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by jhouseprs

I liked some of the others but they can get expensive ;-)


Oh yeah, more like banjo jewelry. smiley

In other disciplines, capos are frowned upon to one degree or another. Not so in Bluegrass. Earl Scruggs developed a lot of G licks, C licks, & D licks, that took advantage of the open strings. Those licks became imprinted in the bluegrass syke. The capo allows you to do those licks in keys where it would otherwise not be possible. Same with Lester Flatt's signature G run.   

But back to Barre chording. The barre need not always be at the back end of the cord. You can barre the front end of a D or F shape chord as well. 

Feb 14, 2018 - 9:30:57 AM

20 posts since 12/24/2015

Wow thanks everyone! Such good information, I look forward to watching the workshop. Good stuff!

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