FOR GUITAR TEACHERS
The partial capo is not just for playing songs or instrumental music. It can have surprising value in helping people learn about the guitar. If you are a guitar teacher, or just teaching yourself, you'll find a partial capo amazingly helpful...Especially the exciting new Liberty Tuning. If your students can't get going, and find the learning curve a little too steep, there is now a better way. Liberty Tuning is the closest thing to instant music ever developed, and it can be done with any guitar in less than 10 seconds. It only works properly if you use the new Liberty FLIP Model 43 capo that was specially developed for it. Basically, you can teach anyone from 4 to 94 how to play millions of songs, with great-sounding chords, in a few minutes. The fingerings are so easy and sound so good you'll never stop scratching your head wondering how it works.
EASY GUITAR FOR BEGINNERS- certain partial capo configurations allow simplified fingerings of basic chords. This can allow young children and people with special learning situations to play full-sounding chords instantly, so of course this means that everyone else can play real music sooner. Why spend frustrating weeks and months trying to master G, C and D7 chords when you can play one or 2 finger chords that sound as good? In Esus capo configuration, which can be done by a universal partial capo or either of 2 single-purpose "Esus" capos, even a total beginner can play full-sounding 3-chord songs in the key of E instantly.
The "E" chord is actually an "E5" modal chord, the "A" chord is an "A add9" and the "B7" is a "B7sus" but for a lot of songs they function as 1, 4 and 5 chords and will sound fine. In many cases they actually sound better than "normal" E, A and B7 chords, depending on the song. Our Duck Soup Guitar method book shows this in detail along with 4 other clever ways to use the capo for simplified chording, with 29 easy children's songs. The Song Train (by Harvey Reid & Joyce Andersen) is a beautiful package of 56 easy-but-great songs, 9 of which are done on the accompanying CD's with a partial capo. If you teach beginner guitar you should know about the partial capo and the Song Train.
LEARN THE FINGERBOARD MORE EASILY - With a partial capo holding down an open chord, it sounds great when you explore up the neck and play some notes up there against the droning chord. This is how banjos and dulcimers and other open-tuned instruments work, and it lets you sound good while you learn the patterns of chords and scales up the neck. Everybody knows you are supposed to eventually go up the neck and play, and this is a good way for students to build confidence and explore. Capoing an A chord or an Esuspended chord with a universal or an Esus capo can open this up immediately. Having some drone, open-string support while you play higher up the neck has previously been something you could only do with open tunings. (And that involves totally re-learning the fingerboard for each tuning.)
SIMPLIFIES FINGERPICKING - A little-known but important use of the partial capo is to teach fingerpicking. It helps in a number of ways:
1) It's often best for developing guitar skills to work on one hand at a time. To learn right-handing picking patterns, you can clamp a chord with the capo, and then concentrate totally on the right hand without the distraction of changing chords, or carving grooves in your fingertips holding the same chord. Use the capo to form an A chord (here is a Kyser Shortcut capo clamping just strings 2-3-4 in the 0 0 2 2 2 0 configuration)
2) PLAY MELODY FINGERPICKING MORE EASILY When it's time to learn to move melodies against chords, which is what fingerpicking is all about, doing it with a capoed open chord is the best way. You can learn the timing of moving the left hand in-between the picking patterns without the distraction of difficult left-hand chording.
3) Most of the basic fingerpicking melody is done on guitar in the keys of C and G, because the scale patterns and chords lie in the first 3 frets. (All except the 4th fret F# on the D string...) But it takes 3 fingers to hold down a C or G chord, and it is hard to learn to use just that one "spare finger" to grab the melody notes that are moving against the chords. And the alternating bass notes supporting the melodies, that are the heart of American fingerpicking, are all fretted notes in those 2 keys. With a partial capo, it often only takes 1 or 2 fingers to hold the chord, and when you sound in the keys of E and E, there are open root bass notes ringing that you can support your melodies with. The job of fingerpicking, which is about playing bass notes for rhythm and treble notes for melody, while the chord is ringing out -- becomes vastly simpler when you use certain partial capo configurations.
Look at this PDF of the arrangement of Oh Susannah (by Jeff Hickey) in "Half-Open A" configuration. (0 0 2 2 2 2) There is total bass support under all the melody notes, and all the bass notes are open strings except measures 10 and 11 when you are forming a C chord with the left hand. Even then, the root note is the 5th string (where it usually is) but the alternating bass note (the 5th of the chord) is the open 5th string.
2) UNDERSTAND GUITAR THEORY BETTER The partial capo really helps guitar people understand what notes make up the chords, and how chords are voiced and positioned on the fingerboard. When you play familiar chord shapes with a partial capo you often get new open string notes added to the chords. You can learn to hear what the 4ths, 6ths and 9ths sound like when added to the basic chords. The new Capo Voodoo: "Cut Capo" Chord Book is an amazing new resource for showing where the partial capo chords are and helping you understand how they are constructed. All 1200+ chords in the book are shown with their letter names and scale positions (this may be the only guitar chord book ever that does this incredibly useful thing) so you can instantly see exactly where the roots, 3rd, 5ths, 9ths etc lie on the guitar.