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Usefulness of additional capos on extensions

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Adrian Cho, Feb 5, 2004.


  1. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Why would someone have a C extension but not have capos or latches on all the notes? Some extensions have just the E closer and some have only an additional latch on the D.

    Apart from the cost saving, some thoughts occurred to me:

    The resonance of the bass when the bottom is closed on Db or Eb is not as nice as when it's C, D, or E. So perhaps it's better to finger those notes that keep the string closed in those positions for any length of time.

    Depending on the situation, for reasons of temperament or perhaps because not everyone else in the ensemble is in tune, the tuning of the latches may not be suitable and again it might be better to finger the note and have the flexibility to tune it.

    I guess there is a weight saving too and there's also less mucking around opening and closing multiple latches in certain situations.

    I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of luthiers and those that play on extensions.
     
  2. I've never been too fond of the mutiple capo extensions for all of the reasons you mentioned. The more weight you add to the scroll, the more the change in the resonance frequency of the neck. Intonation of multiple capos is always suspect. Half of the extensions I see with only one "E" capo are out of tune when you check them with an electronic tuner. If the C is in tune the E frequently isn't or vise versa. With multiple capos, if the capos are not adjustable up and down, odds are that some or all will be out of tune with the pitch of the open string. IMO, Unless you've got a good reason for needing more than one capo, you're usually better off with out them.
     
  3. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    You make good points. I did see a badly installed extension recently (scroll was cut when it didn't need to be). The tuning of the D capo was off. Right now my current thinking is only one capo in addition to the E and that would be the D which puts the bass in a drop D tuning and the bass works very nicely in that mode (assuming the D is in tune). However I'm also tending to think it's just better off with only the E. Fingering the notes might be harder but allows you to do vibrato, glissandi, whatever you want. Also, there's something that's just more organic and elegant about not having the additional closers. Having all those latches is not as bad as those Borg implant mechanical things but it's still somewhat ugly. The only capos I've seen that looked nice are the ones Bill Merchant uses - I think Arnold is going to use them now too.