A relative who also plays guitar and loves guitar accessories rang me a few years ago and said “You need a Spidercapo for your guitar”. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, but he always comes up with good ideas, so next time I caught up with him, I got him to show me what he was talking about. I instantly fell in love with it.
Unlike an ordinary capo, like the ones I wrote about in this previous article, the Spidercapo has 6 prongs and as long as they are on the same fret, you can select individual strings for it to depress.
In this article I’m going explain why you would want a Spidercapo for your guitar. I’ll explain how to fit it to your guitar. I’ll talk briefly about cheap imitations and then I’m going to share a video I created today to demonstrate it in action.
Why would you want a Spidercapo for your guitar?
In my article about Slide Guitar 101, I talked about using open tunings so you can easily play slide guitar. I mentioned that unless you had a dedicated guitar, then you may have some problems keeping your guitar in tune if you keep stretching the strings by re tuning them, and that the easiest way around that is to have a guitar solely for the purpose of playing slide.
Open tunings are also popular to play without a slide, because they enable you to jam, to riff on single or multiple strings and it is a great way to come up with new ideas, or just to have fun jamming, which is of course how many new songs or tunes get written. The beauty of this is that you can clip it on, select the strings you want to depress, play in the open tuning, without having to adjust your guitar, take it off again when you are finished and hey presto it’s back to normal.
Sometimes you just feel like doing something different when you are going to play guitar. You might be feeling stale and keep going to the same old chords or riffs, when you want to be creative. Slip the Spidercapo on, try different positions and all of a sudden it’s like having a different instrument. Your normal chord shapes might not work, so you are forced to try new things.
Of course lots of artists use open tunings. If you’re a Led Zeppelin fan, they have lots of songs using open tunings. I’ve seen many other artists do it to from Eric Clapton to Joni Mitchell and Eddie Van Halen to mention a few. If you ever wondered how they got some of the sounds they did, this is it. The difference is they had lots of guitars and guitar technicians back stage to keep them all in tune.
Fitting the Spider Capo on your guitar
It’s really very simple. All you have to do is:
- Wind the knob to open it wide enough to sit on the neck of your guitar.
- Make sure that the pins are parallel to the fret board, or it won’t go on.
- Put it on the fret level you want to use it on, for example to play in A, it will go on the second fret. Have it as close as you can to the end of the fret away from the head stock.
- Gently push the sides together, so it is sitting perfectly squarely on the fret board and gently turn the knob clockwise until it sits nice and tight. It does need to be tight, or it won’t be able to apply the pressure it needs, in order to work.
- Spread the pins out so that they are even with the strings.
- Now decide which of the 6 strings you want the pressure on, for example to play in the key of A, you would want to use the D, G and B strings. Turn the pins, so that the grooved part sits squarely across the string so that when you pick the string the note sounds crisp and clean.
- You may find it needs a little adjustment to get it perfect. You may also need to re tune slightly to make it sound perfect.
Beware of cheap imitations
I buy a lot of cheap gadgets, electronics and the like from Chinese websites. I have a proper branded Spidercapo, but there are cheap copies available, known as multifunction capos. I had an idea I wanted to try, which was to use more than one at a time. So I bought a very cheap one online. Unfortunately, as you will see on the video in this post, the part where you screw it in place snapped the second time I used it and the manufacturer would not honor the warranty because I had used it.
I’ve had my Spidercapo branded product for years and it has never let me down. There’s nothing worse than being excited about a new gadget and then not being able to play it. When it comes to price, there is an old adage I was taught when I was a door to door cash register salesman many years ago and everyone wanted the cheapest machine. I can’t remember its origin, but it went something like this:
If you want to buy something cheap, “It’s a good idea to put some extra money aside for when it breaks down. Of course, you could just buy the quality product in the first place and not end up without it.”
Spidercapo in Action
Now this isn’t going to be a high quality video, all spruced up and professional. This is just me in my music room demonstrating the Spidercapo in action on two different guitars. A couple of months ago I decided it had been too long since I wrote a song. I didn’t want to ease in to patterns I use all the time, I wanted something different, so I put the Spidercapo on my guitar and just started trying different things out.
I had previously written a song where I put the capo on the top E string right up on the 10th fret, trying to emulate the sound of a banjo. You know the ones where the top string is set higher up than the rest. So in the same vein I decided to try just tuning the top E string to F#. I really liked the sound. Playing the top 4 strings without doing anything created a sound that I can only describe as sort of expectant. It’s begging for you to play the next note.
I started messing around with some jazzy sounding chords and came up with Time Machine. I wouldn’t perform this without practice and I don’t make excuses when I perform live, because with originals, the audience doesn’t know what it should sound like anyway, but I do want to ask you not to judge me by the video, because it was just something I rushed together today by way of a demonstration.
If you want to try something different on your guitar, this is a low cost way to add a whole new dimension to your instrument. It will get those creative juices going and you will have a lot of fun with it. You don’t even have to know special chords, you can just start playing around by trying different shapes.
There are of course books of chords that go with different open tunings and if I remember correctly, the packaging that came with it, if you buy the true Spidercapo, had some tunings and chords on it.
The neat thing is that your strings won’t start going out of tune because you are playing open tunings because you aren’t re tuning your guitar. It’s quick and easy to use and can give you years of new ideas for jamming or writing new songs. Now you can also play those songs you heard but didn’t know how they were played, because you couldn’t stretch your fingers far enough.
Take it from me that the cheap ones probably aren’t worth the hassle, mine broke, but also a cheap one that might have sharp edges on it, could also damage your guitar when you mount it. Now you’re talking serious money for repairs.
Check out the video and feel free to ask me any questions. Don’t give me critique on my playing, because this was something I rushed out to finish off this article because I really felt it would be better to see and hear than to just read about.
What do you think?