Stringedwood musika elkartea is a Donostia-based musical collective dedicated to the promotion and production of singer-songwriter folk music in the Basque Country and further afield. Keep up to date with the San Sebastian folk scene here at www.stringedwood.org.

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Basoka V

Basoka V

This Sunday (2.06.2019 ) , Basoka V will take place in the Miramon Woods, just next to the Basque Cultinary Centre. Basoka is an intimate folk festival, which is part of the Olatu Talka Festival. This year, there will be performances from ...

Jon Busselo - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS4n89GOMI8

Ane Leux - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue70qLueV2M

Luke Armstrong con Josetxo Orueta & Arantza Molina: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWFEO6dXeMY

Iker Lauroba con Olaia Inziarte & Urbil Artola.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35pgvwqWxGk

There´ll be a foodtruck, but you´re welcome to bring a picnic! The first concert starts at 12.

Kontzertuak / Concerts / Conciertos 2018

30.12 - Iker Lauroba @ Hermandetan (Bermeo)

10.11 - Iker Lauroba & Leire @ Arrietako Herriko Taberna

13.09 - Iker Lauroba dentro de INOR EZ DA ILEGALA @ Doka, Donostia

9.6 - Luke Armstrong con Arantza Molina & Josetxo Orueta @ Irabazi Elgar Lanean, Plaza Urumea (Donostia)

26.5 - Basoka IV: Zorionak, Dylan! organizado por Gure Bazterrak. Jon Busselo, Iker Lauroba & Luke Armstrong tocan entre otros artistas de la zona. (Donostia)

5.5 - Luke Armstrong con Josetxo Orueta & Arantza Molina @ Kutxa Kultur Kluba, Tabakalera. (Donostia)

20.4 - Iker Lauroba eta Zentinelak @ Elizpe Zinean (Alegiako)

5.4 - Iker Lauroba + Sara

Azurza @ Marruma Kulturalak (Donostia)

28.1 - Iker Lauroba @ Jane Jauregian (Ugao)

Basoka IV - Zorionak Dylan !

On the 24th of May 2018, Bob Dylan turned 77 years old. A couple of days later, Basoka IV took place as part of Olatu Talka Festival, and this time the event was a homage to Dylan. 23 local musicians performed their interpretations of Dylan songs in The Miramon Woods.

The local musicians who performed were:

Noa Voll Dam & Sergio Villar

Luke Amstrong

Nosa Marshal


Mikel Uharte

Ane Leux

Beñat Antxustegi & Eneko Sierra [Physis Versus Nomos]

Asier Beramendi [Eraul]

Mikel Toyos [The Lookers]

Juan Vaslls

Eneritz Furyak

Charly Duluth [Charly & Pavlyuchenko]

Ignacio Bilbao [Grande Days]

Pedro Gracia [Havoc]

Olana Liss & Sara Martín & Hugo Silveira

Gorka Arranz & Urbil Artola [Howdy SS]

Iker Lauroba & Fariba Sheikan & Urbil Artola

Sara Azurza

Flavio Bánterla

Pablo Blix

Sara Comerón [Frank]

Urko Eizmendi [Pet Fennec]

Mikel Aguirre [Amateur] & Amaia Intxausti

Rafael Berrio & Iker Marañon & Mikel Azpiroz

Here´s an article from the Diario Vasco about the event: https://www.diariovasco.com/culturas/veintitres-visiones-dylan-20180527001226-ntvo.html . Stringedwood wasn´t involved in the organisation of the event this time, and the organisers were the Kultur Etxea from Aiete and Gure Bazterrak.

Jabi Haspi filmed the performances and the videos were then edited by Olatu Talka. They can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVfdjtCkdtA&list=PLiF0WQvCyWTaRWKOEgrzvaM3geLWQsnlj

Concerts / Kontzertuak / Conciertos: Trimestre 4, 2017.

October-December / Urria -Abendua / Octubre-Diciembre 2017

5/10 20.00 Iker Lauroba, Ane Leux & Christina Rosenvinge @ Gazteszena, Donostia-San Sebastián

16/11 21.00 Charlie & The Colours @ Cyne Reyna Errenteria

18/11 20.00 Charlie & The Colours @ Sala Tunk, Irun

24/11 20.00 Charlie & The Colours @ Tabakalera, Donostia-San Sebastián

Concerts / Konzertuak / Conciertos : Trimestre 3, 2017.

July-September / Uztailaren-Urtarrilaren / Julio-Septiembre 2017

21/07 Indigo & María Amolategi @ Gran Camping, Zarautz

25/07 Charlie & The Colours @ Escenario Coca Cola, Jazzaldia, Donostia

04/08 Indigo @ Antxeta, Donostia

05/08 Iker Lauroba & Itsasargiak @ Tabakalera, Donostia

18 /08 Luke Armstrong @ Caf´etcetera, Lalinde

23/08 Luke Armstrong @ Guinguette de Pombonne, Bergerac

21/09 Luke Armstrong @ Ahopeko Kontzertuak, Bilbao

24/09 Luke Armstrong acompañado por Josetxo Orueta & Arantza Molina @ Alboka, Donostia

Basoka III: Folk in the Woods 2017

On May 20th, we´re heading back to the woods for the third edition of Basoka, the mini-festival of Stringedwood musicians and invited artists in Olatu Talka festival, which promises to be particularly special this year.

The event will take place here: https://goo.gl/maps/DHDex1Ue7DK2, right at the start of the Miramon woods, near to the Basque Culinary Centre.

This year two special guests and the Stringedwood artists will be playing. We´ll also be doing a few collaborations to make the event all the more intimate and special.

Here´s the lineup and the concert times:

1800: Iker Lauroba

1845: Luke Armstrong

1930: Charlie Atkey

2015: Indigo

2100: Ane Leux

2145: Jon Busselo

We´re delighted that Jon y Ane will be joining us this year for the event. If you haven´t already heard their stuff, here are some songs to check out :

Ane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl1xADNisn0

Jon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbpPn5KR3jo

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather. Bring blankets, picnics and something to drink ! See you there !

Concerts / Konzertuak / Conciertos : Trimestre 2, 2017.

April-June/ Apirila-Ekaina / Abril-Junio 2017

21/04, Luke Armstrong @ Chez Albert, Bergerac. 19.00.

21/04, Charlie Atkey @ Tabakalera, Donostia-San Sebastián. 20.00.

05/05, Iker Lauroba & Itsasargiak @ Sala Azkena, Bilbao. Concierto solidario a favor del Sahara. 21.00.

12/05, Iker Lauroba & Leire berasaluze @ Errekaldeko herriko taberna, Bilbao.

20/05, BASOKA III, Miramon, Donostia-San Sebastián. 18.00-22.30.

18,00 Iker Lauroba

18.45 Luke Armstrong acompañado por Josetxo Orueta,

19.30 Iñigo Azpitarte

20.15 Charlie Atkey

21.00 Jon Busselo + banda

21.45 Ane Leux + banda

01/06, Charlie & The Colours @ Costello Club, Madrid.

02/06, Charlie & The Colours @ The Rose Yuncler, Toledo.

03/06, Charlie & The Colours @ La Bañeza.

09/06, Charlie & The Colours @Tabakalera, Donostia.

17/06, Iker Lauroba & Itsasargiak @ Portuko Ranpi, Ondarroa. 19:00.

24/06, Luke Armstrong acompañado por Josetxo Orueta, Arantza Molina & Easo Araoz Gazte @ Tabakalera, Donostia-San Sebastián. 20.00.

Acordes Urbanos en Donostia

En 2015, Victor y Samuel de Acordes Urbanos vinieron a Donostia para grabar algunos videos. Grabaron videos con Charlie Atkey, Iker Lauroba y Luke Armstrong, además de otros artistas de la zona. Os dejamos los enlaces aquí. Disfrutad !

In 2015, Victor and Samuel from Acordes Urbanos paid a visit to Donostia to record some videos. They made videos with Charlie Atkey, Iker Lauroba and Luke Armstrong, as well as some other local artists. Here are the links to the videos. Hope you enjoy them !

Iker : https://vimeo.com/172743933

Charlie : https://vimeo.com/172749617

Luke : https://vimeo.com/212893750

Leonard Cohen en el Alboka


El día domingo 12 febrero, algunos músicos que vivimos en Donosti nos juntarémos en el bar Alboka para tocar algunas canciones de Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen fue un gran poeta & cantautor y podréis disfrutar de 15 interpretaciones de las canciones de este gran artista, que falleció el año pasado.

Será una noche intima de buena música y compañía en el mítico bar Alboka.

Os esperamos allí! No os la perdáis!

Concerts / Kontzertuak / Conciertos: Trimestre 1, 2017.

January-March / Urtarril-Martxoa / Enero-Marzo 2017

27/01 - Iker Lauroba. CBA, Irún.

11/02 - Iker Lauroba & Leire Berasaluze. Endaneako Kafetegian, Hondarribia.

12/02 - Homenaje a Leonard Cohen, organizado por Stringedwood. Alboka Taberna, Donostia-San Sebastián.

24/02 - Luke Armstrong with Josetxo Orueta. CBA, Irún.

9/03 - Charlie & The Colours. 1990, Ordizia.

10/03 - Charlie & The Colours. Topic, Tolosa.

11/03 - Charlie & The Colours. Musikagela Weekend VII, Intxaurrondo K.E.

12/03 - Charlie & The Colours. Maitenia, Ziburu.

18/03 - Charlie & The Colours. Llibreria Strogoff, La Garriga

18/03 - Charlie & The Colours. TBC, Barcelona.

25/03 - Iker Lauroba. Troskaeta Taberna, Lazkao.

26/03 - Indigo. Bideluze, Donostia.

Basoka II : Folk in the Woods (20.5.2016)

19.00 Indigo

19.45 Luke Armstrong + Easo Araoz Gazte

20.30 Iker Lauroba + Easo Araoz Gazte

21.15 Adam Gilles Levy

10.00 Charlie & The Colours

We can´t wait to get back in the woods for Basoka 2016 on Friday 20th May!

Basoka II will be taking place in the Miramon Woods, like last year, but we´re mixing things up this year by including plenty of new collaborations and a special guest. We are collaborating with the Coro Easo for some new songs and new formats; what´s more, the architecture students from the UPV will be taking part in the festival and will be working on the stage and the surroundings to make the most of the woodland setting.

The collaboration with Easo Araoz Gazte will be different to last year´s one as this year Iker Lauroba is going to present his new collaboration with a choir of young children. Luke Armstrong will also be performing with a choir of teenagers in the format which Luke and the choir have been working on and developing since the success of the last edition of Basoka in 2015.

This year we have a special guest, Adam Giles Levy, a musician from London, who is now based in Bilbao. Adam, who defines his music as contemporary folk, clearly has a number of different influences and his music is quite something. He´s both an impressive guitarist and a great singer, with hints of blues, pop, folk and experimental guitar tricks which bring Preston Reed to mind. Here´s a video of him playing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q667n4ARYEQ

See you in the woods on Friday!

Basoka 2015: Folk in The Miramon Woods

Basoka 2015: Folk in The Miramon Woods

On Sunday 31st May, a new event called BASOKA will take place within the Olatutalka Festival 2015. The event will involve the collaboration of various Stringedwood artists with children from Easo music school (Easo Musika Eskola). ‘Basoka' is a play on words between the Basque words for woods (‘Basoa') and string (‘soka'); the name seems fitting for this mini Stringedwood folk festival, which will take place in the woods between Miramón and Aiete this Sunday.

We're really looking forward to performing with the children from the music school and these unusual concerts in the picturesque setting of the woods in Miramón should make a unique and highly memorable event. There will be cellos, flutes, and choirs of children, as well as other surprises during the concerts.

Many thanks to Josu Elberdin for writing the accompaniment which the music school will perform, Musika Eskola Easo, CC. Lugaritz K.E and Edorta Subijana for collaborating with us to put on this festival.

Here's the line up:

11.00 Tristan Crowley

12.00 Charlie&The Colours

13.00 Luke Armstrong & band

14.00 Indigo

(NB. You may notice that this is different from the timings which appear in the Olatutalka booklets. The timings shown on this page are the updated, correct timings).

For more information, go to: http://olatutalka.eu/es/jarduera/basoka/

See you there!

We've stopped our monthly articles on ‘5 things we liked in ...'

We've decided to stop the series of monthly articles on the things we had particularly liked in any given month. However, we'll keep publishing and sharing information about things which interest us (like videos, events, articles, competitions etc.) on our facebook wall. Befriend us on facebook if you want to keep up to date with our news - our facebook name is ‘Stringedwood Donostia'.

Fingerpicker's Corner: An Introduction To Partial Capos

A while ago, I wrote an article entitled '10 things worth knowing about capos'. Here is the long overdue promised follow-up article on the relatively obscure area of partial capos.

A few years ago, I felt like my playing had got into a rut, and so, in search of inspiration, I headed to my local music store, Stringbrokers Andover, to peruse the guitar gizmos on offer. As luck would have it, I stumbled across a weird and promising-looking device called a Spidercapo. After a quick chat to the shop assistant, who explained that it was a fancy type of partial capo, I decided to fork out the twenty-something quid and give it a go. As soon as I'd got home, strapped it to the neck and starting playing around with it, I was hooked. I knew my playing and composition were already heading off in a new direction...

What is a ‘partial capo'?

A partial capo is a capo which does not cover all of the strings: it only covers some of the them and therefore changes the sound of the guitar if you strum it without fingering any strings. In short, a partial capo helps you get a different sound out of the instrument.

What types of partial capos are there?

There are many types of partial capos. Here's a summary of the two main types of partial capos, but If you want to find out more about them, I suggest you go to Harvey Reid's site: http://www.partialcapo.com/devices.

  1. Most partial capos are like shortened versions of normal capos which only fret some of the strings. They can't be adjusted and go across some of the strings on one fret. These are made by companies like Shubb, Kyser, Liberty and Planet Waves.

  2. The second type of partial capo also goes across one fret, but you can choose which of the six strings you press down. Capos like this include the Spider capo and The Third Hand Capo.

How these are used is hard to explain, but easy enough to understand when you see them - take a look at the pictures.

Why do people use partial capos?

Most people who take an interest in partial capos do so because want to make it sound as if they were playing in an open tuning, without retuning the instrument. However, others use them with open tunings to help them unlock particularly unusual chord voicings.

Why is using a partial capo easier than using alternative tunings?

When you retune a guitar to put it in an ‘alternative tuning', you have to re-learn how to play the instrument because the position of all of the notes changes. The chords and scales are not in the same places as in standard tuning. However, if you keep the guitar in standard tuning, but use a partial capo to create the same effect, you don't have to go through the process of re-learning where all of the chords and scales are. What's more, it's much quicker to put on a capo than to fully re-tune.

Why aren't they more popular?

They are a relatively modern invention and a lot of people aren't aware that they exist.

Unfortunately, partial capos tend to pull your guitar ever-so-slightly out-of-tune, which is particularly problematic for live performances.

Is it worth experimenting with one?

I would definitely recommend it: it's a way of getting to grips with different ways of thinking about the instrument and unlocking more potential sounds. However, be careful! I composed a whole set which was almost entirely dependent on a Spider Capo, and this led to excessive amounts of re-tuning time on stage, which is never much of a crowd pleaser!

Where can I find examples of people playing using partial capos?

Here's a list of other artists who use one: http://www.partialcapo.com/capo_artists.htm. I also use one in this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWFEO6dXeMY.

I learnt a great deal from playing with a partial capo, but recently I've decided to try to alter and rewrite some songs that I had written using one, so that I can play them live without worrying about keeping in tune. Partial capos are a great toy, but experience suggests they are better played with at home, not on stage.

5 things we liked in August

Coming soon: a new book about NICK DRAKE

‘Remembered for a while' will be the title of this new book, which has been edited and compiled by Gabrielle Drake and Cally Calamon. There's already a very good biography of Nick Drake on the market, which was written by Patrick Humphries; however, this new book looks like it will be something different and particularly special. It has lots of previously unseen material - like handwritten lyrics, a musical guide to the songs, interviews, photos, information about his concerts and articles about his how his influence carries on today. It's possible to pre-order the book at the website www.rememberedforawhile.com/ .

THE DANCING YEARS on The Mahogany Sessions

On the 22nd August, The Mahogany Sessions uploaded a new video to Youtube, showing ‘The Dancing Years' in action. ‘We danced last night' is particularly worth listening to.


JAVI RUIZ with Jesús Zambrano and others in Altxerri

Javi Ruiz is the ‘guitarman' who has taken up a residency in Altxerri, and performs there every Tuesday. He's an incredibly gifted musician who is well worth seeing live; he really seems to be a musician ‘through and through'. On the 26th of August, the Venezuelan Mandolinist Jesús Zambrano (who a while back used to play with Luke Armstrong too) returned to Donosti and teamed up with Javi again for an unforgettable evening of Latin music.

JOE WILKES' ‘The High Life' on Acordes Urbanos

At the end of August we saw a video, which had been shared by Acordes Urbanos, of an up-and-coming musician on the London scene: Joe Wilkes. Wilkes has an excellent fingerpicking technique, a powerful, hoarse voice and composes really well. He'll be back in a few months for his Spanish tour and will be stopping off in Valladolid again for a concert and another session with the Acordes Urbanos team. Don't miss it!


DOUGIE MACLEAN is named ‘Folk artist of the month' on folkradio.co.uk

Dougie Maclean is a veteran Scottish singer-songwriter and a folk legend. His music ranges from intimate acoustic ballads, with just Dougie and his guitar, to lively aborginal-Scottish folk fusion songs with his band (bagpipes, percussion, didgeridoo, guitar, violins etc). He really is a unique talent and his live performances are second to none. It was good to see him get this well-deserved award.


5 Things we liked in July

You can now sign up for the PUA DE ORO competition

The Pua de Oro (‘The Golden Plectrum') is back, continuing with its aim “to make San Sebastian the capital of the guitar”. It's a competition for guitarists, particularly electric guitarists, organised by Leize Gorria. The competition gives guitar enthusiasts an opportunity to play live, in front of a good audience, at Bebop bar. You can compete to show your mastery of the instrument and win, or just to take part and have fun.

This competition is a good way to help new competitors ingrate themselves into the music scene here; what's more, events like this one, in which local musicians come together to share a stage and their passion for music, are an impressive demonstration of the growing music scene here.


SHIRLEY COLLINS tribute album

Many artists are going to collaborate to create a collection of covers of songs performed by Shirley Collins. Collins was an essential figure in the folk movement and her album with Davy Graham (Folk Roots, New Routes) was seminal. Bonnie Prince Billy and Bitchin Baja's cover of ‘Pretty Saro' is well worth a listen and is already available on youtube.



On the 12th and 13th, Kutxa Kultur Hiria took place in Plaza Gipuzkoa and other streets in the city centre. There were a number of musical performances, as well as theatre, dance, workshops and market stalls, offering something for people of all ages. The objective of Hiria is ‘The generation of an open space to rethink the city, which serves as a meeting point for creators and innovators from different backgrounds”. The 10 local bands that are going to play in Kutxa Kultur Festival in September (Indigo; Luke Armstrong&band; Frank; Bassmatti&Vidaur; Acido C; Chase the Mayhem; Hyedra; The Animal Within; Mery May) shared the stage in the Plaza Gipukoa, which was decorated with an unusual structure, created by Edorta Subijana, which spelt out the word ‘Hiria' using large black plastic boxes. http://kutxakultur.com/2013/kutxa-kultur-hiria-2014-3/


England's largest and most well-known folk festival started on the 29th July and carried on until the 3rd of August. Cambridge folk festival had a great line up this year, with some all-time greats, including Richard Thompson, Van Morrison and Martin&Eliza McCarthy.


Stumbling across RIVER CROMBIE

River Crombie is a singer-songwriter from Hamburg, who's recorded a homemade CD that is well worth a listen. His music is draws on influences from the folk movement of the 60s and 70s and his clear, clean vocals may well remind you of artists like Jackson C. Frank, Cat Stevens or Eric Andersen. We found his music thanks to www.folkblues.co.uk.


5 things we liked in June

TRISTAN CROWLEY returns to the studio

At the beginning of June, Tristan Crowley returned to the studio to record his second EP. The recordings include new collaborations and some of the new songs which Tristan wrote just before his tour in France. The EP was recorded in Muir Estudio by Jon Vidaur. There'll be more information about it soon. www.facebook.com/tristancrowleymusic


On the 23rd, British songwriter Roo Panes released his second album, ‘Tiger Striped Sky'. The timbre of Panes' voice is particularly special and its combination with his 12 string guitar and open tunings creates something quite out of the ordinary. Here's a link to one of his songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGP-TnIoejk

A competition to win a place on Renbourn Guitar Workshop's course on Bert Jansch

On the 26th, Renbourn Guitar Workshops announced they were going to team up with The Bert Jansch Foundation to offer a scholarship for their course on the folk guitar of Bert Jansch to a guitarist under the age of 30. In addition to this, the winner would get free food and board. The winner was Zach Coombs, who is from Newfoundland. Congratulations, Zach! http://renbournfingerstyle.com/


On the 29th June, Iñigo Azpitarte (the singer of ‘Indigo band') was interviewed on Eitb about his music and his new EP ‘Out of here'. Here (http://www.eitb.com/eu/audioak/osoa/2369768/audioa-indigo-inigo-azpitarteren-musika-proiektua--amarauna/) you can listen to the interview and 3 songs from the EP (‘Wrong', ‘Playing' y ‘Heart'). You can get hold of a copy of the EP at one of his concerts or through Indigo Band's facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/Indigo0Band).

SAMMY JANKIS on Acordes Urbanos

Thanks to Acordes Urbanos, we discovered ‘Sammy Jankis'- a folk-pop band from Burgos. The songs are melancholic and are inspired by the life of the singer, Alfonso Gutiérrez, as well as stories about his friends. They've got a bandcamp page (http://sammyjankis.bandcamp.com/) and their website is http://www.sammyjankis.com/ .

5 things we liked in May


On the 12th, Nick Mulvey released his first album, ‘First Mind'. Mulvey is an English singer-songwriter, who used to be part of ‘Portico Quartet'; now, he has a solo project and his solo work is also essential listening. His music is very original and could more or less be defined as folk with a hint of World/African music. As well as being musically impressive, some of the lines in his songs are great and will make you reflect, nod and smile. Here's a link to a one great track from the new album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds0jtuyslbI.


The first concert of Charlie Atkey with his whole band was on the 16th May. Charlie & The Colours is made up of Charlie Atkey (guitar & vocals), Oriol Flores (drums), David (double bass), Iñigo Asensio (piano/accordian) and Santi Fernández (trumpet). Their performance in Intxaurrondo, with Bassmatti&Vidaur, Moby Dick and Autumn Defense was a big success and there's an article about the night here: http://www.laganzua.net/cronicas-conciertos/archivo/the-autumn-defense.php.


On the 24th, the second ‘Altzoka' took place; Altzoka is the Alza Fair, which is organized by Gentequehacecosas. The weather was great and the fair worked well in its new location (La Plaza del Casco). There were many stalls, run by local artists and innovators selling CDs from local bands, ethical clothing, art and other local produce, as well as other fair trade products too. The day was great fun and there was a great sense of community spirit. It demonstrated what the city is capable of when people make the effort to work together and share. www.gentequehacecosas.com

JIVIN' MOONSHINE's first gig

The Wannabes (who are now known as ‘Jivin' Moonshine') gave their first performance at Altzoka. This new trio play covers of blues, rag & country-folk music and give a great ‘show'. Their music whisks you off to a warm humid afternoon, many miles away, with the band playing beneath a weeping willow tree, with all the townsfolk sat on their white porches, enjoying the performance. The band's made up of David Sánchez (lead vocals & percussion), Kiski (harmonica&vocals) and Iban (folk/slide guitar and vocals). https://www.facebook.com/jivinmoonshinedonostia


After the impressive performance of the donostiarras Frank en La Via Fora (San Sebastian) on the 25th May, I got myself a copy of their EP ‘My Wild Kingdom'. It's a very impressive and complete EP, which was among the 30 semifinalists in Radio 3's EP competition earlier this year. The standout track on the record is ‘The memory of the tree', which includes the collaboration of ‘Tipsy Gypsy' (banjo & vocals). You can check out all the songs from the EP at http://frankfrankfrank.bandcamp.com/ . It's well worth a listen.

Fingerpickers' corner: Ten things worth knowing about capos

1. Capos offer the easiest way to transpose songs.

Using a capo is the simplest way to adjust the key of a song to suit a singer's vocal-range. The capo acts like a moveable replacement to the head of the fretboard, which means you can transpose a song with minimal/no knowledge of music theory. You can simply play the same shapes but just move the capo up/down the fretboard to adjust the musical key and pitch. (See point 6 to understand a bit more about how transposition (changing key) with a capo works).

2. Different guitars require different shaped capos.

You need to take a look at your guitar's fretboard before buying a capo because some fretboards are curved whereas others are straight. In general, acoustic and electric guitars have curved fretboards; classical guitars have flat ones, which also tend to be wider.

3. There are three main types of common capos

  1. ‘Screw-type' aka. ‘Adjustable'

    Shubb are the most popular and reputable makers of screw-type capos. These capos require you to adjust their tightness around the neck by using a screw in the back of the device. They are the best type of capo for avoiding pressing too much and, therefore, they're the best at keeping the guitar in tune. However, they're a bit fiddly and slower to put on than ‘trigger' capos.

  2. ‘Spring-loaded' aka. ‘Trigger'

    Trigger capos can be put on quickly and use a spring mechanism. Harley Benton, Kyser and Dunlop all make well-known trigger capos. These models are much quicker and easier to attach than screw-type capos, but they tend to grip the neck too tight and therefore pull the guitar slightly out of tune.

  3. ‘Toggle' aka. ‘strap-on'

    I've never seen anyone give a concert with a strap-on. It would just be ridiculous. They are the cheapest option but you get what you pay for. They do the job, more or less, but they often pull the guitar badly out of tune and are not a good investment.

Personally, I'm a Shubb (screw-type) fan. There are many different types of capo available but it's well worth paying that little bit extra to get a good one.

4. How to attach your capo:

  • Make sure it is tight enough to press down all the strings without any open strings buzzing at all. At the same time, ensure that it's not so tight that it pulls the guitar out of tune.

  • Put it as close as possible to the higher end of the fret - not in the middle of the fret. Do not cover the fret marker.

5. Just because you are in tune with yourself, doesn't mean you're in tune with others.

It's always worth checking you're in tune quickly after putting a capo on. When you put your capo on, it may well keep the guitar in tune with itself, but put it out of tune with other instruments. The guitar may sound ok to you, if played alone, because all of the strings are out of tune by the same degree; however, if you play with others, you might well notice that the whole instrument has been pulled a fraction out of tune.

6. The theory basics - it's useful to be able to name the actual chord, not just the shape.

If you use a chord shape that you're used to, which uses open strings, but add a capo, you are no longer playing the same notes and it's therefore not the same chord. If you know what the chord is with the capo off, then using a diagram of the notes on the neck, you'll be able to tell chord what it is with the capo on (look at this link - http://www.guitar-chord.org/transposition-chart-for-capo.html). For example, a standard Eminor chord is Fminor if the capo is on the first fret, F sharp minor if it's on the second fret and Gminor if it's on the third fret etc. It's as simple as that. If you know your barre-chords you can work it out very quickly, as the capo works like a barre.

This is useful for communicating with other musicians. Moreover, if you know what key you usually end up playing in, you'll soon realise what keys your vocal range (or your singer's vocal range) is suited to.

7. The way tabs are written can vary for songs composed with a capo.

Many famous songs have been composed using capos; however, not everyone agrees on how to tab those songs. Most people write tabs relative to the capo and label it as such, but other people don't. This means that the same piece can be tabbed in two ways, which can lead to confusion. Writing tablature that is ‘relative to the capo' is much more common. Here's a bit of tab to demonstrate what I mean - these two are for the same song:

8. Why some people say using a capo leads to ‘bad habits'

Some ‘purists' feel that you shouldn't need a capo. This is because it's easy to get lazy and dependent on a capo for transposing, yet lots of songs could be transposed perfectly without one. Admittedly, if you want to understand music theory, learning to transpose and switch keys without using a capo is a useful skill. What's more, capos are uncommon in some genres, so can seem out-of-place. However, even if capos may lead to lazy transposing (not that that's necessarily a problem), they're still incredibly useful for more than just transposition: capos open up new chord voicings and can alter the brightness of the instrument too.

9. Capos change the tone of the guitar

If you use a capo high up the next you get a brighter tone, which makes the guitar almost sound like a different instrument. Moreover, if you understand a bit of music theory (for example if you're in standard tuning and you understand the CAGED system), you can use a capo to create a simple second guitar part, using different chord voicings for accompaniment.

10. There are more obscure types of capos too, with interesting uses.

Glider capos are a special type of capo which be moved up and down the neck mid song by daring guitarists as a bit of a party piece. For an example, have a look at this John Martyn video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=c80pa9lCFjQ

Partial capos are another nifty device. I use one for a few songs, including this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWFEO6dXeMY. Partial capos fret some of the strings, but not all of them, making it seem as if the guitar were in a different tuning. I'll be writing another article on partial capos very soon.

The Stringedwood Sessions: It's time for the summer break.

The third Stringedwood Session took place on the 11th April. This time it was Jan Fol and Luke Armstrong & Josetxo's turn to share the stage in another night of folk music in the Doka.

We did everything we could to create a welcoming, intimate atmosphere: we worked together with our friends from the Doka to decorate the place with rugs, candles, fairy lights and barrels; what's more, the musicians who were performing that night chose the playlist for before and between the concerts, giving a personal touch to these elements of the night.

Jan Fol took to the stage first with an excellent concert. Her set included her first performance of her first composition in Spanish, which was a particularly special moment. The night continued with Luke Armstrong & Josetxo, and this time Charlie Atkey helped Luke out with his guitars, by tuning between songs. The night was rounded off by the DJ ‘Miss Bonjour' in the Stringedwood Aftershow Party.

We've decided to take a break for the summer now. We'll be back in September/November with the next Stringedwood Session. The next series of Stringedwood Sessions will have a different format and approach.

This summer Tristan Crowley and Charlie Atkey & The Colours are planning on recording. Luke is working on a new project at the moment and both Luke and Indigo will be performing in the Kutxa Kultur Festibala at the beginning of September. Jan Fol keeps composing and will no doubt produce some more gems over the summer months.

We've had a great year: thanks everyone who has come down and/or followed us here online. We really appreciate all your support.

(Thanks to Raisa Isasa for the photos)