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Until 2014, the information below explained the best way to get started playing basic simplified guitar chords with a partial capo. Now with the introduction of the amazing new Liberty Tuning, it's all changed, and beginners now have a very exciting new set of options. With a Liberty Model 43 capo (and a full capo to match your voice) you can pretty much play any song you want to with simple 2-finger chords on any guitar. The musical options are incredible: no hard stretching, almost no added or missing notes in the chords, fewer strings to avoid, more choices of keys to play in... It only takes 5 or 10 seconds to do it with any guitar-- there is no tuning that is any easier to do, and there is nothing anywhere that works like it does. Harvey Reid has now published 9 books that detail carefully how it works and how any level of player can enjoy its magic. If you already play guitar and don't need beginner assistance, read on...

Getting Started With A Partial Capo

Since the partial capo is useful for beginners and amateurs as well as professional guitarists, it can be confusing to figure out where to start. Having a partial capo can be frustrating because it it not at all obvious how to use it to make your music sound better. Here are some suggestions for beginners, songwriters and serious players of how to get going.


If you have never played guitar, a partial capo is your "backstage pass" to get you playing great-sounding music right away. Probably the easiest and most effective starting point is the E-Suspended or "Esus" configuration. Either an Esus (3-string) capo or a Universal model will get you going instantly playing in the key of E. 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. The one-finger chords you need are shown here, and three types of partial capos that will do the job are also shown 1) The Kyser Short Cut 2) the Third Hand 3) the Shubb c7b

:1 finger chords Kyser Short CutThird Hand Esus

The Duck Soup Guitar book has 29 children's songs and shows 6 ways to use a partial capo to play "instant guitar." The larger Song Train (http://www.songtrain.net ) is a 4-CD set with an 80-page hardback book that is designed to get people going playing basic guitar. It also shows how to use a partial capo in a number of ways, and offers 56 great songs (including rock, country, folk, gospel, blues, bluegrass and folk songs) that anyone can play right away.


If you already play songs on your guitar, you can quickly get new chord voicings and some fuller-sounding chords with a partial capo. Because the partial capo "world" is so different, it's good to start with a couple easy ones to get the feel for it before trying the more confusing configurations, even if you are a skilled player. Probably the first thing you should try is to see if you have a clamp-style capo (such as a Shubb, Kyser, G7, Sabine, Planet Waves or Dunlop Trigger) that you can just offset to on side so that it clamps 0 2 2 2 2 2 like this. You can also move it to the 4th fret and play 0 4 4 4 4 4 and quickly adapt to the new situation. Our new Capo Voodoo book shows over 1200 chords and 24 different ways to put a 3-string Esus capo on your guitar.

Drop E capo

On a lot of guitars, a normal full capo can do this, and you can begin exploring partial capo-ing without buying anything. Read this discussion about partial capo basics that carefully takes you through exactly what is going on.

You will also probably have an immediate good time by playing in D position with an Esus capo toi get new sounds in the key of E.


If you already play guitar well, you can jump in a number of different places. You should be able to start playing music in the Drop E configuration right away, and chances are there is something you are already playing in D position, either with or without a Dropped D tuning, that will benefit from the partial capo. You can then try capo 0 4 4 4 4 4 and play in C position easily also .

If you are skeptical that a partial capo has any real "value," take a look at this "Half-Open A"  ( 0 2 2 2 0 0) arrangement of the 2-part round Frere Jacques. Try to play this piece in standard tuning without the partial capo. It's a good example of how the different landscape the capo offers sometimes allows the notes you want to play to be much easier to reach. Naturally, there will be just as many situations where it will make it harder, but it is indisputable fact that an inexpensive, small, durable tool like this can indeed open up new and very real musical possibilities to any player.

If you are a bluegrass player, you might want to next try 0 0 2 2 2 2 , which only a few partial capos can do properly. (Shubb and Kyser both make versions of this, though they don't work well for this purpose on most guitars.The Liberty FLIP Model 43 does it best, and the Planet Waves Trio is 2nd best, though the Liberty 43 is also the best Esus capo.) If you play folk or celtic music, an Esus (short for E suspended) capo 0 2 2 2 0 0 is probably the best starting point, since it sounds a lot like the common DADGAD tuning,even though it is a little more confusing at first.