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Links to Harvey Reid's partial capo videos on YouTube

A list of Harvey Reid's partial capo recordings available on iTunes (and many other legal download services)


Listen to Partial Capo Music

Below are examples of the dozens of ways I have used partial capos for over 30 years to play a lot of kinds of music. We sell all these kinds of capos here. (HR) (All tracks ©1981 - 2009 by Harvey Reid)

The Basics: The"Dropped E" Partial Capo

The easiest thing to do with a partial capo is to just clamp the top 5 strings at the 2nd fret. All it changes is what happens on your bass E string. When you play a D chord, it sounds an E, and you get to play the open bass E (which works like Dropped D tuning.) But when you play a G chord, you play normally, basically forget the capo is there, and you get a "normal" A chord.

"Roving Gambler"

Released in 2007 on the "Song Train" project. [Harvey Reid guitar & vocal/ Joyce Andersen: fiddle & vocal]

Just a simple 2-chord song, where I play a D and a G and they sound as E and A because of the capo.

Instrumental with the Now-Common "Esus" Partial Capo

This is flavored with classical guitar and fiddle tunes, and was written in 1982. Played in D position, it uses some of the cascading harp-like scales (Part 3 of this Suite uses a lot of this technique) and shows how you can play quick melodies in the treble, with supporting chords, and also move some bass lines. The ability to play baroque-style counterpoint, with a ringing drone sound (also without a loss of tone from the slack strings) of an open tuning is one of the striking features of the partial capo.

"Suite in F: Part 1"

This is the 1st recording of this it, released in 1983 on A Very Old Song LP, and out of print for many years. [Harvey Reid: solo guitar]

The first serious composition for the Esus capo. I used a Third Hand on this. A re-recording is on the Solo Guitar Sketchbook CD That version was remastered and re-released in Nov 2010 on Capo Voodoo: Solo Guitar CD. A transcription is in the Sleight of Hand book.

Minor Key Slide With the "A Minus" Partial Capo

A very clever way to play minor-key slide. Tune the guitar to an Am chord (actually an Abm) and then you capo 5 of the strings, and since the musical 3rd of the chord is on the B string, not capoing it allows the open strings to sound an Am chord. But every time you put the slide down above the capo, it makes a major chord! I can't believe more slide (and dobro) players have not stolen this idea from me in over 30 years. This is the long-out-of-print original version from the LP.

"The Albatross"

Released in 1982 on the Nothin' but Guitar LP. [Harvey Reid: solo guitar]

The first cut on my first album used an unusual partial capo that I still don't think anyone else has done. A re-recording is on the Solo Guitar Sketchbook CD. (Remastered and re-released in Nov 2010 on Capo Voodoo: Solo Guitar CD.

Play Beethoven Precisely With the "E Minus" Partial Capo

The same basic idea as the previous one, except the tuning is Open Eb and the flat 3rd is on the G string. "E-minus" is far more musically useful and versatile than "A-minus." Here I transcribed note-for-note from the piano. All other published guitar arrangements change some of the notes to fit them on guitar. I also use this capo set-up on a number of very cool guitar pieces like Sly Damsel Serenade, Wayfaring Stranger & Scarborough Fair. (those cuts on iTunes)

"Für Elise "

Released in 1989 on the Solo Guitar Sketchook CD. [Harvey Reid: solo guitar]

A transcription of this has been in my Sleight of Hand book since 1983. It is lovely and not that hard. (Remastered and re-released in Nov 2010 on Capo Voodoo: Solo Guitar CD.

Blues Song With the "Woodie's G-Band Model 1" Partial Capo

If you tune to Open C tuning (C-G-C-G-C-E) and then capo the 1st string at the first fret (what I call the "Csus Plus" effect), magical things happen, and the chords I have always wanted to find for this pentatonic blues classic appear. You can play melodies in 3 octaves, plus all sorts of cool chord voicings. Great also for celtic music. AVAILABLE ON ITUNES

"St. James Infirmary"

Released in 2009 on the Blues & Branches CD. [Harvey Reid: solo guitar & vocal]

Because of this, I now never go to a gig without a Woodie's G-Band Model 1 capo.

Bluegrass Flatpicking With the "Half-Open A" Partial Capo

I'm a much better fingerpicker than a flatpicker, but this proves that partial capos have value for bluegrass. (This is largely cross-picked, done with a Herco heavy nylon flatpick.) You play in C position (and sound in D), so the chords you play are just C, F and G. The top 4 strings play normally, but when the song goes to the 5 chord (feels like G, sounds like A) where it spends a lot of time, you've got an open tuning on the bottom 5 strings, which you can really hear working.

"John Hardy"

Unreleased, recorded in 1980 on my home 4-track machine. [Harvey Reid: lead & rhythm guitar]

I recorded this with a Third Hand, but it's easier to see what is happening with the Kyser "Drop D" capo in the photo.

Slide Delta Blues with the "Half-Open A Slide" Effect

People who play old-fashioned blues are probably not adventurous enough to try this, but it lets you get the sound of an open tuning and play slide in A by only re-tuning one string. You drop the high E down to D, then the capo makes the open strings play an A major chord. When you play the bottom 5 strings, it feels like standard tuning, but when you play the top 4, it feels like Open A. A very quick, and easy-to adapt-to way to play slide blues in A.

"Johnson's Blues"

Unreleased, recorded in 1994 on my home 4-track machine. [Harvey Reid: solo slide resonator guitar]

I recorded this with a sawed-off Shubb, but it works on most guitars with the c8b (pictured) which is designed to clamp 5 strings. (Remastered and re-released in Nov 2010 on Capo Voodoo: Solo Guitar CD.

FIngerpicked Fiddle Tunes in Esus

This was the first year I toured with my Taylor 810 guitar, which intonated beautifully and played like butter. I worked up a bunch of fancy fingerpicking things like this, including a transcription of Pierre Bensusan's lovely Flax in Bloom, which he of course did in DADGAD tuning. I remember learning it both ways and deciding that it was easier with the Esus capo. In Esus, you get the scales from standard tuning, the drone of the open strings, and the bass notes you need are usually nearby.

"Fiddle Tune Medley"

Released in 2002 on my 2-CD project Dreamer or Believer. Recorded in 1985 live at Holstein's folk club in Chicago. [Harvey Reid: solo guitar]

I recorded this with a sawed-off Shubb capo, using finger picks. Tunes: Lord Inchiquin/Flowers of Edinburgh/ Whiskey Before Breakfast /Rickett's Hornpipe

The First Track Ever Released in "Asus" Partial Capo

I have been using A suspended capo configuration since 1980 when I first thought of it, and this is the first track I recorded with it. I am now telling the world about it, since a lot of players have had a lot of years to find all the things to do with their Esus, 3-string capos. (They all missed this one, and it is one of the very best. My Capo Voodoo Book shows a lot more clever ways to use an Esus capo.) You capo an A chord, then tune the B string up to C. It's a litte hard to get used to, and it's probably for "better players" but this song is not hard. I didn't solo because they were done by other instruments later.

"I Have FInally Found A Home"

Unreleased solo version of a track from 1998 Fruit on the Vine CD. [Harvey Reid: guitar & vocal]

I recorded this track and then Anne Dodson and Matt Szostak added vocals, penny whistle and hurdy gurdy for the finished recording. This is just my solo track, so you can really hear the capo working.

Use a Partial Capo & Make a 6-String Banjo Sound Like a 5-String

It's pretty lonesome to do this, since people see you playing a "banjo" and they hear "banjo" without realizing that it is done in a completely weird way on an instrument tuned like a guitar. I use 3 fingerpicks, a bare thumb, with a full capo at fret 5 and an Open A capo at fret 7. I have done this "faux-frailing" technique for almost 25 years and as far as I know no one has copied it, which is too bad. It works. AVAILABLE ON ITUNES

"Jesse James"

Released in 1994 on Chestnuts CD. [Harvey Reid: 6-string banjo/ Moondi Klein- guitar]

I re-released this track in 1995 on Artistry of the 6-String Banjo, and then it got re-mastered in 2009. There is a video on YouTube of me playing it.

Some Dreamy 12-String

I started Woodpecker Records in Palo Alto CA in 1982. WIndham Hill Records was next to me in the phone book, and was also a 1-man label with a single LP of solo guitar music. (Will Ackerman) They took off and sold millions of records, and in the early 1980's I made a bunch of improvised home recordings of dreamy "noodling" fingerpicking to show that I knew how to do that new age stuff too.I never did anything with any of the tracks except grumble. I used a 1967 Gibson B-45 12-string on this track I just sold. I have no idea how I played this piece.

"A9 12-String Jam "

Unreleased, recorded in 1984 on reel to reel in Portsmouth NH. [Harvey Reid: solo 12-string guitar]

This remains the only piece I ever recorded in the A9 sawed-off capo, and shows that I was using this configuration decades before anyone else. The guitar is tuned down 3 frets so it sounds in F#.