Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sounds of Birds, Lawn Mowers and Banjos

Ever since we unloaded our trailer from IBMA last October it has sat dormant in the corner of our back parking lot, patiently waiting the soothing sounds of birds chirping, lawn mowers and banjo music! The 2014 festival season is finally among us and it seems to have arrived as fast as it left us last October as Gill and I drove home from Raleigh, NC. As we began planning for this year’s season we were all very set on making it to a couple festivals that we had not been able to attend in the last few years.

Last year was an epic festival season for both Capo’s Music Store and the bluegrass community. From the cold misty rain in Galax for HoustonFest, the Mount Airy Old-Time and Bluegrass Fiddlers Convention and a beautiful weekend with Ralph Stanley up on the mountain for the Hills of Home Festival. The famous first full week in August and my personal favorite week of the year is always spent in Felts Park for the Galax Fiddlers convention. The 12 hour days I spend in our booth for the store are always paid off with a nights of jamming with friends from across the country that I only see once a year. As the year moves on through late summer, we are blessed to be right down the road from one of music’s best kept secret and a music festival unlike any other, Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.  It has gained a huge attendance and has seen the likes of Steep Canyon Rangers, Sam Bush, Tony Rice and many more bluegrass and Americana greats, grace the stages on and around State Street. The weekend spent in Bristol is special, having some of the world’s greatest bands come to our back yard instead of us going to them for once.

It seemed that as soon as we got the trailer unloaded from Rhythm and Roots, Gill and I were headed down to IBMA and the World of Bluegrass 2013. This was my first experience attending IBMA and was very impressed with how welcoming the city of Raleigh was to the bluegrass community. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and I got straight to business, catching Balsam Range and The Boxcars back to back in a little hole in the wall venue downtown. Again, spending three days stuck at our booth was worth all the new friends we met, music we played and history we got to witness. The Awards Ceremony offered up the biggest moment our music world has witnessed in many years. Seeing Tony Rice not only play for the first time in years but talk in his normal voice put goose bumps on the whole room and gave everyone hope that one day, Tony will be back on stage not only playing but singing!

Festivals have become much more than an excuse to drive too far or stay up way too late to listening and playing music for me. A music festival is a place where you make friends with the family that is camped beside you or you share a tent with another fan while listening to your favorite band in the blazing sun. I have never been part of a closer bunch of fans than the bluegrass world. I have ran into the same people that attend Bristol Rhythm and Roots and been sitting right beside them on a city bus after a day at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, CA. I have stood beside a group of friends listening to The Infamous Stringdusters at Telluride Bluegrass Festival and they have walked into Capo’s Music Store the next week. Do yourself a favor and get out there this season and attend a festival and experience what I have grown to love over the past few years of my life. Don’t forget to look for Capo’s while you’re there too!
Assistant Director of Retail Sales at Capo's Music Store

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

We think its important to constantly search for new and better products to bring our customers.  That's why we attend the NAMM Show every year in January and again in July.  We want to be on the cutting edge of any new advancements in our industry so we can bring them to our customers.  This year we found the Glider Capo.  This little capo is so easy to use it makes changing keys effortless.  The capo slides easily up and down the neck of your guitar and stores over the nut so you can change keys using only your thumb to move the capo.  Quick and easy using only one hand.  The Glider Capo is produced using quality materials and construction processes so its sure to last for years to come. 

We sell them online at and also in our brick and mortar store located at 903 E. Main Street in beautiful Abingdon, Virginia. You can contact us at (276) 525-1880 and if you have any questions. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Finer Points of Tuning

The importance of tuning is often overlooked.  Even if you only know a few chords they will sound much better if your instrument is properly tuned.  One player being out of tune can often throw off the entire group, so do us all a favor and be sure you're properly tuned! There are several options for making sure you are in tune and ready to play.

The easiest and most commonly used tuning tool is the electronic tuner.  These come in a variety of styles, sizes, colors and options.  You can get mini tuners that can stay on your headstock at all times (which will help you not lose them).  You can also get the standard electronic tuner that comes with the option of either using the microphone or the vibration option.  Using the microphone can be tricky if you are in a loud room so the vibration option may be useful in that situation.  You can get a good electronic tuner for under $20, we recommend the Tune Tech Tuner or the Snark Tuner.  Both are great options and are relatively inexpensive.

If you are looking to upgrade to a more accurate electronic tuner, we recommend the Peterson Strobe Tuner.  These tuners are more accurate than conventional electronic tuners but also come with a higher price tag.  If you are playing on stage and it's important that you are in perfect tune then the Peterson might be the right tuner for you.  The Peterson company also has software that can be purchased for your smartphone or tablet to turn it into a tuner as well. for more information.

Then there is the tried and true method that many musicians still prefer and that is the tuning fork.  The award winning guitarist Wyatt Rice still uses the tuning fork method and he teaches it to students in his workshops.  We had a workshop with Wyatt here and he demonstrated how he uses the tuning fork to tune his guitar.  Using the fork method requires a good ear and some training.  So it may not be for beginners.  There are some advantages to the tuning fork, first of all it doesn't require batteries.  There is never a fear of dead batteries when using a tuning fork.  Second, it's a very economical tuning method as most tuning forks are relatively inexpensive. It also emits a very pure musical tone, which can lead to more accurate tuning if used by a musician with a good ear.  The downside is you have to know what you're doing.  A novice musician may have a hard time using a tuning fork without some practice.  Also, they can be difficult to use in a loud environment because it's difficult to hear the pitch emitted by the tuning fork over crowd noise.

Whichever option you choose be sure to use it, every time.  Instruments, especially when played outdoors, can be tricky to get in tune and stay in tune.  So like everything else in your musical journey keep practicing!  If you have any questions about the products mentioned here or tuning techniques contact us at or (276) 525-1880.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dear Ol' Dad

Father's Day is just around the corner, it's Sunday June 16 in case you didn't know.  That leaves you with less than 1 week to get the perfect Father's Day gift.  If your Dad is a musician or just thinks he is we have some suggestions that are sure to make him smile on Sunday. 

If you know anything about Capo's, you know we Love Bluechip Picks here.  We all have at least one and we swear by them, as does Chris Thile by the way.  So why not hook dad up with a Bluechip or a Wegen Pick?  Believe it or not that little pick will make a huge difference in Dad's playing.  Don't believe me? Check out this video Gill did of different picks and listen for yourself.  It's all about the tone.

Or what if you got Dad a Peterson Stroboclip tuner?  Bet he would love it!  These tuners are worth every penny, he can't play like a pro if he's out of tune.  Help him out with this top of the line tuner.

 Help Dad keep his instrument looking and sounding good with some new polishes or cleaners.  We have tons to choose from at reasonable prices.

Since you're shopping at Capo's, why not get Dad a new Capo?  We have a wall full and would be happy to help you find the perfect new capo for Dad's banjo, guitar, mandolin, uke or resophonic guitar.

Strings are always a sure bet.  Everyone needs them because everyone wears them out or breaks them.  So why not get Dad stocked up on his favorite strings?  Get him a frequent buyer string card while you're here and after he purchases 10 sets of strings he gets a FREE one.  We even have the brand new Martin Tony Rice strings!

Since summer vacation season is here why not get Dad a travel guitar or uke for Father's Day?  Ukes are great for traveling and we have tons to choose from. 

Make Dad's day extra special with a gift from Capo's.  Or just come treat yourself!  You can also shop us online  Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bluegrass Tone Woods

One question we get asked here at the store a lot is,”What should I look for in a bluegrass guitar?”  The answer can be complex so let’s break it down.  First, you have to think what makes a guitar a bluegrass guitar?  The look and the sound are what make it bluegrass.  Bluegrass musicians generally select an acoustic dreadnought body style with traditional finishes.  But what's most important is the sound. It’s that booming bluegrass sound that you can feel and hear in traditional songs.  How do you get that?  It’s in the wood. 

These are some general guidelines in looking for a good bluegrass guitar.  Of course the most important thing is how it sounds to you.  Everyone is going to hear something a little different so play it for yourself and listen to the sound quality. 

We will start with the top or soundboard of the guitar.  In most cases this will be some sort of Spruce.  Spruce is a good choice because it’s lightweight yet durable and it delivers a punchy loud sound that resonates well.  With solid wood the sound improves with age.  There are several different types of Spruce available however; the most popular are Adirondack and Sitka.  Adirondack, also known as Appalachian or Red Spruce is getting more difficult to obtain because of limited supply so the price is higher.  Sitka Spruce comes from the western coast of the United States and Canada and is more plentiful.  The trees are also large in size so it’s easier to get many beautiful pieces of Sitka Spruce to use for the tops of the guitars. 

The back and sides are also extremely important.  Most bluegrass style guitars will have Rosewood or Mahogany back and sides.  Both of these woods provide a rich warm penetrating sound with that deep boom that bluegrass demands.  Rosewood tends to be a little more expensive because it is not as readily available as Mahogany, and carries a bit more overtones.  Brazilian Rosewood has the reputation of being the best but it is in very limited supply and difficult to obtain so the price is very high.  Indian Rosewood is now more popular because it’s easier to obtain and still has a similar Rosewood tone that makes Brazilian Rosewood popular.  Mahogany is a good choice and very popular.  Its tone is warm and bright and lends itself well to lead playing.  It is often used in the necks of guitars. Often singers will choose a Rosewood constructed guitar as the tone is darker and is a smoother accompaniment to vocals.
Do some research about what style of guitar will fit your playing style.  Laminate tops may be attractive because of the price tag but they aren’t going to deliver the sound or quality you will get from a solid wood instrument.   Laminate guitars will not “open up” like solid wood guitars.  The laminate guitar you purchase today will sound the same in two years’ time.  The solid wood instrument when played regularly will open up, resound richer and fuller and will be ultimately a better sounding instrument and more pleasurable for the player to perform with. Play the guitar yourself and see how it fits you and sounds to your ear.  If you have any questions about tonewoods or guitars please feel free to contact us we would be happy to help.  or  276-525-1880 . 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trouble Keeping Your Banjo In Tune?

Are you having trouble keeping your banjo in tune?  There may be a few minor things that could be the problem. Banjo construction can be a cause for tuning issues. Banjos are different than other stringed instruments in that they don’t have a neck joint like a guitar would, where it is glued or held together somewhat permanently.  The neck of a banjo is not glued to the pot so the neck has a miniscule amount of movement where it meets the pot and can adjust with slight movements.  This small amount of shift in the neck and pot joint can create tuning problems.  Also, your strings are resting on a floating bridge making banjos more susceptible to tuning issues.  The way you hold the neck of your banjo can make tuning issues worse.  If you are too rough on the neck of your instrument or hold it too tightly it can cause your banjo to go out of tune.  Most professional banjo players keep a clip on tuner on their headstock to combat tuning issues while playing. You will see them tune often during performances to make sure they haven’t knocked their instrument out of tune while performing.   One other helpful tip is to tune your banjo after you are seated or in the position you will be playing in, this will help decrease the chance of movements causing your instrument to go out of tune.   So in conclusion take extra care to be gentle on your neck and tune often.  Having an instrument that is out of tune will make your playing less enjoyable for you and those around you. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

What to get for the "Pro"??

Do you have an experienced musician on your list this year?  Do you want to wow them, but you're not sure where to start?  That's where we come in.  Let the knowledgeable staff here at Capo's help you put together the perfect gift that will make Christmas 2012 unforgettable.  We have assembled a few suggestions that might get your wheels turning. 

For the guitar player that knows their stuff.  Surprise them with this Larrivee D-05 Burst with Deluxe Hardshell case.  This guitar is all solid wood and made in North America by the fine folks at Larrivee Guitars. Pair this amazing guitar with a Lakota Leather strap handmade by the Lakota tribe.  The  black strap shown here is made from American Buffalo hide and is super soft to provide hours of comfortable playing.  The last piece to this ensemble is the staff favorite BlueChip Pick made in Knoxville TN.  All the guys here carry these in their pockets to play any chance they get. 

Is there a banjo man or woman on your list this year?  We have several amazing banjos to choose from, but here is just one of our favorites.  This is the Ome Celtic 11" Old Time.  Made from Curly Maple All Solid wood made in North America.  This banjo has beautiful inlays and a great sound.  It comes with a deluxe hardshell case.  This banjo looks and sounds great.  We can put together the whole set up for you with a strap, picks, tuner and whatever else that catches your eye.


Finally, here's a Mandolin that just came through the door.  We've had a Stonebridge Mandolin before and it was phenomenal, this one is just as amazing.  The Stonebridge MF-22 features a Spruce top and Maple back and sides to give it that great tone.  It has a gloss top and satin back and sides which gives it a unique look.  It comes with an oblong hardshell case.  Of course we can set this or any mandolin up with a quality strap and picks to complete the package. 

Our shelves are stocked with merchandise right now so stop by and check out our selection.  We offer expert set up for every instrument we sell to make sure it's ready to be played as soon as it goes out the door. 

Take advantage of our Lay Away program to make your shopping less stressful and we offer FREE gift wrap!!