I commonly play with a five-string capo on the second fret of the guitar, leaving the E string open. This only becomes a problem when attempting to play an F# chord with the bass note:

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As you can see, it's hard to get my thumb in there to fret that F# bass note, particularly on this narrow neck. (It's easier on my dreadnought guitar.)

Is there a better way to do this? Perhaps there are better capos for this purpose? Is my technique off? Should I get started on growing that third hand?

  • It would have been nice with sort of a button you could press with your thumb that fretted the F#! :-) May 3, 2012 at 22:35
  • 2
    @UlfÅkerstedt A capo with that would actually be really cool.
    – user28
    May 3, 2012 at 22:51
  • @MatthewRead: The thing I'm surprised nobody has produced yet would be a guitar with a two-fret sixth-string extension, somewhat like the C/E string extensions on upright basses, so that pushing a button would make the sixth string play a D rather than an E, thus allowing a non-wimpy D chord.
    – supercat
    May 15, 2017 at 16:17
  • @supercat Lever tuning machines are a thing, but they're expensive. May 15, 2017 at 17:51
  • @neilfein: Lever-tuning machines change the string tension. I was thinking of a guitar which combined a five-string nut with a fret at the corresponding spot on the sixth string, so the lever would change the unfretted length of the sixth string rather than the tension.
    – supercat
    May 15, 2017 at 17:56

2 Answers 2


Looks like you have room to back your capo off from the low E slightly, which could help your thumb fit in. Beyond that, try turning your thumb in towards the guitar a bit and extending it straight up, then pulling it down against the edge of the neck so that the fleshy bit sticks over the edge and pulls the string down to the fretboard. Doesn't work for everyone, but worth a try.

  • That's exactly what I do on my dreadnought - angle my thumb in there. But on this guitar, I really don't have the room for this. May 3, 2012 at 23:28
  • And, unfortunately, this is about as far as I can back the capo off the frets and still have it hold the notes down well. But perhaps I could cut the end in a bit with a hacksaw and angle it. Hmm... May 3, 2012 at 23:29

An alternative would be to play it as you would for a barre chord, but just use your first finger for that root note, leaving your other three fingers to play the notes you currently play with your first, second and third fingers.

It will be easier than a full barre, and it removes the awkward thumb angle entirely.

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