Cut capos have become very popular with worship leaders in the past few years. It originally began when artist Billy Foote wrote the song “You Are My King” for use with a cut capo. Soon after, Chris Tomlin picked up on using a cut capo with many of his songs, and Mitch Bohannon of Bo’s Capo’s developed a design that was marketed by Kyser. From there, the rest is history. So, if you’ve wondered what in the world those little stubby capo things are, here’s the story…
The cut capo is one that’s been cut, (either through manufacturing or other means) to cover the A, D, and G strings on the second fret. With the capo, your guitar is put in an E suspended tuning… which lets you play songs in the key of E much easier, since you can fret chords with one or two fingers.
There are a couple of ways you can get a cut capo. First, Kyser makes a cut capo that’s available for purchase online. (http://www.worshiptogether.com/store/productdetail.aspx?iid=288003&tid=332) Second, you could take an old capo and simply cut out the rubber that would usually cover the low E, B, and high E strings. Third, some guitarists just take a standard capo and turn it around backwards, since the back support is big enough to cover the three strings. The only problem is on some guitars, it doesn’t apply even pressure across the fret, so you’ll have to retune your guitar to the capo. (and retune it when you take the capo off.)
When putting the capo on, make sure to place it as close to the bar as possible… this will give you the best tuning. (See above image)
The following illustrates how to play popular chords in the key of E with a cut capo.
With a cut capo, you’re not just limited to the key of E. (This is where the famous double capo comes into play.) If you want to play in another key, all you have to do is use a full capo as your base, then place your cut capo two frets above it. Playing in the key of G for example, you’d put your full capo on the third fret, and your cut capo on the fifth fret.
The cut capo has obvious uses for acoustic worship leaders, but I also use one as an electric player. Take a look at the E chord in the diagram above. Notice how your finger is fretting a B note (on the G string). You can create unique lead riffs by sliding up and down the E major scale on that string while letting the A and D strings. (Which capo’ed are B and E notes.) ring out.
For more information on cut capo techniques, check out the tutorials, videos, etc. on Mitch Bohannon’s site.