Bob Kilgore’s Harmonic Capo(2)

I'm Going To Confess Something: In My callow youth, I had an anti-capo bias. I didn’t like capos and I didn’t like being around people who did. “Why don’t you just learn barre chords?” said my intolerant former self. Then, after getting my ass handed to me by Paul Simon and George Harrison, I finally tried one and realized what a fool I had been. A capo isn’t a crutch. Proper capo use expanded what I could do on the guitar, making voicings and registers that were unavailable (or at least a real pain) totally usable. The only perceived bummer was that if I capoed at, say, the fifth fret, I lost access to all the pitches on all the strings on the first four frets, as well as open strings. So why are we talking about all this? Because we at GP have stumbled upon the coolest capo—and maybe the coolest gadget of any type—that we’ve seen in a long time in the form of Bob Kilgore’s Harmonic Capo. As the name suggests, this is a capo that plays harmonics, but that doesn’t tell the wh
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The Harmonic Capo looks like an oldschool, elastic band capo but instead of a rubber- covered metal bar to clamp the strings down, it sports six soft, rubber pads. Rather than placing the HC right behind a fret, you need to put it directly over a harmonic node, generally at the 12th fret. You then press each pad down so that it just barely touches the string. Strum the strings and you’ll hear harmonics ringing out.

Here’s where the fun begins. Because the pads are only lightly touching the strings at the 12th fret, you can play on the lower frets. Simply fretting a note behind the Harmonic Capo is enough to pull the string under the pad so the note can sound. Pull it off and it pulls off to a harmonic. It’s incredible—you can combine fretted notes and harmonics in ways that would be flat-out impossible by any other means. Almost like a celestial Nashville tuning, pitches jump out in various octaves for a truly magical sound. With a guitar in DADGAD, I walked around the office and proceeded to blow every editor’s mind. Each of my co-workers was able to play inspiring, otherworldly parts after about a second and a half. Smiles all around.

If that was all that this thing could do, I’d still be a huge fan. But you can also get open notes on any of the strings by pulling its pad up and away from the string. This is truly awesome because, in open-D, I could have a droning low D as well as an open high D, with harmonics on the middle four strings. As I fretted chords and played single-note lines, normal notes mingled and danced with their harmonic sisters in amazing ways. Oh yeah—this was all on an acoustic. Playing an electric with distortion added a whole new set of possibilities.

I can’t say enough good about the Harmonic Capo. You could base a tune on these sounds or double a part that was played conventionally and create the coolest overdub ever. When you see this device, it’s so elegantly simple you’ll wish you’d thought of it yourself. When you hear it, you’ll wish you had one years ago.


KUDOS Brilliant idea. Makes the impossible possible. Incredibly addictive.
CONCERNS Won’t work on 12-string or classical guitars.
CONTACT Weaseltrap Records;