Intro to Capo

I was staring at my acoustic guitar today sitting on its stand (lonely, I know … maybe I should pick it up and give it some attention) and was pondering for a blog topic.  Capo!

What is a capo?

A capo is a device that clamps down across the fingerboard on the neck to effectively create a “new” nut.  By doing this, you are shortening the length of the strings and raising the pitch.  A standard capo presses down all six strings behind a fret making that fret the new nut.  Capos come in a bunch of shapes and styles.  Some capos use an elastic band that wraps around the neck, while others use a clamping technique.

Why use a capo?

Capos are useful for a few reasons:

  1. To change the pitch of a song.  If you can’t easily sing in the same range as Phil Wickham then simply change the key of a song.  By moving a capo up the neck of a guitar, you can change the key of a song while using the same chords you already know.
  2. To play a song using easier chords.  Its great that piano players like the key of Eb, but Eb-Ab-Bb are challenging chords for many guitarists.  Why not capo it on the fourth fret and play G-C-D instead?
  3. Capoing changes the timbre or sound of the chords.  Try this:   play a standard A chord.  Now capo the 2nd fret and play a G.  Hear the difference?  Try it again capo 5 and play an E.

Did you know that has all kinds instructionals?  Here is their post on “How To Use a Capo

  1. Step 1. Play a C chord on your guitar. //
  2. Step 2. Put the capo between the nut and first fret close to the first fret, but not directly on top of it. //
  3. Step 3. Clamp or strap down the capo tight enough to make sure none of the strings are buzzing. //
  4. Step 4. Play the C chord again. It has now moved up a half-tone to C#. //
  5. Step 5. Move up the capo to the second fret. You are now playing in the key of D. Note how much brighter the same chord sounds in this position. //
  6. Step 6. Move the capo up and down the fingerboard. //
  7. Step 7. Notice the difference in sound depending on capo position. Determine which one sounds best to you.
  8. Step 8. Experiment. Play different chords using the capo. Find out the best key for your own vocal range.

When do you like to use a capo?

Want to write a capo instructional?
Drop us a line and we may feature something you’ve written in our blog

Great Tone at Bedroom Levels

Thanks in advance to Griff for making this fun to watch video:

Hi, Griff here from Blues Guitar Unleashed

Over on the BGU member’s forum we talk a lot about gear… I know it’s a shock, right?

Guitar players are generally crazy about getting the cool tones. And one of the most common problems is getting a good amp sound at “bedroom” levels that won’t irritate your neighbors or loved ones.

I put together a fun video where I demonstrated an amp I really like, the Fender Blues Junior. Obviously there are a lot of amps that could fill this void, but this is one I have, and doing this video also gave me a chance to demonstrate how I use some effects pedals as well.

Judging from the feedback I’ve received it’s been helpful for a lot of the BGU members, so I thought I would share it with you all as well.


PS – For more info on the blues guitar method visit

How do you keep your volume down at home while practicing?

Interview With Paul Baloche

Special thanks to Andy & Cathy Sanders at 5-Fold Media for the interview and concert videos.

Paul  Baloche Paul  Baloche Concert

Recently, Cathy and I had the privilege to interview Paul Baloche after a worship time in a local church. I must say that I was extremely impressed with many facets of Paul’s life.  For starters, one could easily tell that he did not come to be served but to serve the Body of Christ.  People bombarded him with prayer request, photos, signatures, and funny stories from the time he arrived, to long after the worship time was over.  He took the time to listen to anyone who wanted to talk even at the expense of total exhaustion that he encountered.

During the worship time, he would often stop and talk about revelation that God had given him over the years. On more than one occasion , Paul Baloche continued with spontaneous prayers and songs to the Father that were directly from the Fathers’ heart. It was wonderful to experience and many, including myself were extremely encouraged. As most of you already know, God has gifted this man to be a real worship leader that brings people to HIM.

Below is a little excerpt with our time with him in a personal interview.

Andy: What were the main events that God used to show you that this was His will for your life?
Paul: In stages. There weren’t any big dreams or visions, that would make a great story, but I’m being honest. I think that way most of us hear from God is like he only shows us the next little step, and I want to see the next 10 steps, but it’s like one little step and you try to serve where you are at. I was doing kid’s church, helping out at this little A/G church, and I thought “What can I do? Well I can help with the little kids.” And that’s some of my first worship leading experience, helping with the little kids and singing Father Abraham. Then the youth group needed somebody once in a while to lead, so I would do that. Then suddenly an opportunity opens up to lead for the adult church. As I look back, there was maybe a hundred steps like that, where you try to be obedient one step at a time.

Andy: Other than the Lord, who has influenced your life more than anyone else?
Paul: No doubt my wife in a lot of ways, and my parents, they loved other people. My parents taught me how to love other people. They lived it in front of me.

Andy: How has your wife adapted to you being on the move so much?
Paul: She is kind-of a “crazy” musician herself. Originally, I was her guitar player. She was the songwriter and all that and I played guitar for her. We were leading worship in our church in Texas and she started having our 3 kids. She was almost relieved in some ways, I wasn’t asking her “Hey, you getting any song ideas?” So it ended up being good, it took pressure off of her. And God opened it up and showed me that I can do this. You play the cards you are dealt, so we adapt and try to keep it balanced, at times its too much and so we try to be prayerful over the years and adjust.

Andy: If you could sing just one song for the rest of your life as a message to the church, what would it be?
Paul: Maybe the Hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” It’s just a powerful song, It’s a glory song.
John Bacchus Dykes, Reginald Heber. Public Domain

Andy: What were some of the expectations you had before getting to where you are today, and are they reality?
Paul: Honestly, none. We moved down to Texas to do missions with Last Day Ministries and YWAM. We lived in a mobile home for many years. I didn’t have enough faith to even dream that I would have a CD or a record. I can honestly say that. And like I said it was little by little by little and all of a sudden, an opportunity presented itself. I started leading worship at this church, and started writing little prayer ideas, little prayer songs we would sing at church. Before you know it, one thing leads to another.

Andy: In your travels, if you can be used of God to help fill a void that you see in the church across the board, what would it be?
Paul: The ability to reveal who Jesus is. The supernatural ability that points people to Him, for them to actually catch a glimpse of who He is and change, because once you see Him, once you experience Him your life will change. “Taste and see,” you know what I mean?

For more information on Worship Leader Paul Baloche check out

Check out some video clips from the concert:

Paul drop-kicking t-shirts into the crowd:

Paul has fun with the kids:

Paul talks about his song “Glorious”:

Truss Rod Adjustment Details

Thanks to Billy Penn for this article detailing truss rod adjustment.

I get several emails per day about adjusting a guitar’s truss rod. Many of these questions come from people that want to make their guitar play better without taking it to a technician. If you feel comfortable or have a little experience this is not a very difficult procedure. The benefit of a properly adjusted truss rod is a great playing guitar.

I shot a couple videos on how to adjust a truss rod so we will not get into that very deeply here in this post. You can check the videos below for a step by step tutorial on how to adjust a truss rod.

What I want to cover here is a detail or two about the after effects of the adjustment. I find that after adjusting the truss rod on a guitar (particularly one that is far out of adjustment) it needs a little time to sort of “settle”. What I mean by that is this. Take for example you have a guitar that has a neck in an under-bow condition. After you tighten the adjustment mechanism the neck gets straighter and the guitar plays better. But what happens 12-24 hours after the adjustment? I notice that after the settling period the neck seems to usually drift further in the direction you were adjusting it. So in this example the neck gets even straighter or possibly back-bowed. I use the analogy of stopping a boat. You’re going along in your motor boat and you suddenly cut the engine. Yes, the engine stops but the boat keeps going for a bit until it glides to a stop, overshooting the point where you cut the engine.

To remedy this you can do one of two things. Adjust the rod to just shy of where you want it to be. Stop the adjustment before it gets to the perfect sweet spot so in the morning it will be where you want it. The other option is to adjust the rod where it is perfect and then re-adjust the next day. Why not do it one way and not the other? Well if you have the time you can adjust it shy and have it perfect the next day. If you don’t have the time because say you or your repair customer has a gig then you need to have the guitar play perfectly and then deal with the adjustment after the settling period.

Now here comes the tricky part. Not all necks drift past the adjustment after the settling period! So what do you do? This is where experience and some trial and error comes in. If it is your personal guitar you will get to know it from maintaining it throughout the years. Otherwise your tech will know how your guitar behaves to adjustments by his or her experience and taking care of it. Either approach will yield a great playing guitar!

So remember to be aware of this little detail when you are maintaining your guitar and adjust the truss rod accordingly. Get to know your guitar and all it’s anomalies so you can keep it playing at its best. The time is worth the investment!!!

Have you adjusted your own truss rod before?

Post a comment describing your experience or lack thereof.

Learn The Nashville Number System

Thanks in advance to NVSongwriter for this excellent article.

What Is The Nashville Number System?

The Nashville Number system is the greatest thing ever invented for the working musician. The principles are basically the same. There are some differences but I will point those out as we go along.

When Neil Matthews created the original Nashville Number System in the late 1950’s, he was looking for a way to help he and the other members of the Jordanaires, Elvis Presley’s Vocal Backup Group, learn vocal parts more quickly. Charlie McCoy, A Nashville session musician and music leader of the Hee Haw television show, took what Matthews created and, together with some of his recording session friends came up with the system musicians use today.

For musicians, the Nashville Number System is a chord charting system that makes charting and transposing keys easier and quicker. With this system, the scale degrees of the major scale, C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, are changed to numbers. The major scale using the Nashville Number System would be 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.

In the last lesson, I talked about half steps and whole steps and how in certain orders, I call formulas, can be used to create chords and scales. If you will remember, the formula for the major scale traditionally is whole step, whole step, half step, then 3 more whole steps and another half step, sometimes noted W-W-H-W-W-W-H. I also said in my Guitar Number System we will note it with numbers, 2-2-1-2-2-2-1. You can in turn, use this formula to create the major scale in any key.

This numerical approach to music is the language professional musicians use to communicate everyday in Nashville and other music centers live and in the recording studio. Studio musicians will listen to a demo recording of the song to be recorded and write out their own number chart as the sound engineer plays it from the control room. Then they record the song, each creating their part based on the number chart the just made. All the parts we hear in the music we love is created this way, right there on the spot. There are no pieces of paper with lines and little black notes on them. It’s all done with number charts.

A number chart for the Bob Segar classic “Old Time Rock and Roll” would look like this:

1          1          4          4
5          5          1          5
1          1          4          4
5          5          1          5

Start Thinking In Numbers

Did the number chart above to “Old Time Rock and Roll” surprise you? Some musicians are caught off guard by how simple it is when they first see one. I am now going to explain how it works. Again, this is very Important, so please pay attention.

With traditional printed music, the kind with lines and little black notes on sheets of paper, everything you are supposed to played is written on the paper and you play it just like it is written.

With the Nashville Number System, the number chart represents the chord progression of the song. Musicians read the chart and interpret it musically in their own way based on their experience. Most musicians using this system play by ear so interpretations vary, sometimes greatly.

In the number chart above, each number represents a chord created from that scale degree. When the numbers are equally spaced as these are, each chord is held for 4 beats. A split bar is one with more than 1 chord in a measure. When you see 2 chords written as (1 4), it means it is one measure with 2 chords, held 2 beats each.

There are other elements of the Nashville Number System that we will get to later but what I have gone over so far is the basis of it. Just remember, use the system I gave you to find the major scale in whichever key you are working in and then change the scale degrees to numbers, then write your chart.

The Nashville Number System Video

Aaron Tomberlin is a guitar player and teacher who has his own website. His video below about the Nashville Number System should help reinforce the information I have provided for you.

Start Making All Your Charts With Numbers

So what’s so great about the Nashville Number System? Earlier, I told you about how musicians use this system when they record CD’s in the studio. Let’s look at some ways musicians use it when playing live on stage.

For bands playing in clubs around town and at other venues, they know that other musicians and singers are always dropping by wanting to “sit in” with them and do a song or two. If someone in the band doesn’t know the song, they can either write a quick number chart or, one of the other musicians might simply hold up fingers to indicate the numbers, the chords to be played.

Let’s say Karen Johnson wants to sit in and sing a Carrie Underwood song. She tells the bandleader and he spreads the word. The bass player, who always carries all his charts with him, pulls out his number chart for “Jesus Take the Wheel”, which was originally recorded in C. Karen says, “You know guys, my voice feels a little rough tonight, let’s take it down to Bb. No problem, the bass player knows all he has to do is play all his notes 2 frets down. He can use the same chart because it was written with numbers, not letters. All he has to do is mentally transpose the song applying the numbers to the new key. That’s the beauty of The Nashville Number System.

A Typical Nashville Number Chart

Nashville Number System Charts

Below you will find 2 charts for the Country classic “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams Sr. The first chart is the song charted with chords in the traditional method followed by a chart done the Nashville Number System way.

Nashville Number System Cheat Sheet

Above is a kind of “cheat sheet” you can use until you get use to using this system. In the left hand column under “Key”, are the main keys you will be playing in. To the right of each key name are the letter names for the notes in that key’s major scale.

At the top, to the right of the word “Key” are the corresponding numbers for the letter names. The 8 column contains the octave note for each key, which is simply the same note as the tonic, the key name note, but an octave (12 notes) higher. The notes in the 9 and etc. columns are altered chord notes. You don’t need to worry about them right now so just ignore them.

If you run across any keys not on this chart, like C# or Db, just use the formula and hopefully you can figure it out.

How To Use The Number System

I want to go back over the advantages of using numbers systems in different musical situations. Honestly, if you have no plans of being a professional musician in a major music capital like L. A., New York, Atlanta or Nashville, playing by numbers is an option that would certainly help you but isn’t a necessity. If you do want to go to a big music city and play with the pros, it is an absolute requirement.

Have you ever been in a situation with people you respect and they all knew something that you didn’t? How did it make you feel? It made you feel pretty worthless didn’t it, especially if you knew you should have learned about whatever it was they knew, but just didn’t. That’s how you will feel if you move to one of the big music centers and don’t understand how to read and write number charts. Basically, you won’t be able to work. When they are writing charts, they won’t write number charts and then write chord charts for those who can’t read number charts. They will expect you to be able to read number charts.

So, how can these number systems help you in your life as a professional musician. First, something you probably don’t realize if you’ve never tried to work in one of these pro towns, is that musically, things are done quite differently than they are in your hometown. When you wanted to play music in hometown U.S.A. you got all your musicians together, practiced for several weeks or months, and then went out and found places to play.

In the big time it’s quite different. When it comes to music related, money making work in Nashville, it comes from several sources. You have the big recoding artists who all carry their own bands. Only the best musicians get these jobs, and even then you have to know somebody. There is also work with what I call the used to bees and wanna bees. Artists of yesteryear that still work, many times don’t carry their own bands so they will come to Nashville looking for bands to back them up because they know Nashville players can learn their music very quickly. I did a lot of playing with these types of artists. You usually meet them in a central location where they have reserved a rehearsal hall. Then you have 3-4 hours to rehearse with them and learn their show and then head out on tour. To learn that much material in just a few hours, the Nashville Number System must be used. It’s the only way to get it done.

There are also artists that haven’t gotten a deal yet but they go out and play when they can. You might get a little more rehearsal time with them, but you still have to learn a lot of material in a short amount of time. You might go out and work a week or a weekend with one and then work with a different one the next week.

To survive in Nashville and work, you must get to the point where you can learn music very quickly and perform reading the charts you have written. The number system is streamlined enough to allow you to do that.

The last way you will use the number system is when you are playing gigs and people want to sit in. You may or may not know the song they want to sing but if you have a number chart you can get through it. Many times a singer will want to change the key of a song. With the number system, you won’t have to change your chart because the numbers apply to any key. With traditional chord charts you would have to re-write the chart to transpose the song. That’s the beauty of the Nashville Number System and the Guitar By Numbers system.

Would utilizing the Nashville Number System for your worship team be useful?