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A Capo Conversation

Gilewitz_Mark Pugh Promoenade Music UK 2015Never in a million years could I have guessed that the day would come when I would be in a playfully heated discussion defending the validity and purposes for the existence of a Ukulele capo while on the way to Liverpool, England, home of my idols ,The Beatles. While on the road with Mark Pugh, my friend for over 12 years and proud owner Stones Music, his independent Ukulele Company based out of the UK, our discussions generally went like this.

“But Mark, of course you need a Ukulele capo!” I stood my ground stating that a player could select a different key to play in depending on the pitch of their voice.

Mark would then retort, “Well, you could always simply change keys to accommodate your voice and select a different batch of chords to solve the problem – or preference.”

Never one to acquiesce easily, I countered, “Well maybe you want to change the nature of the tune by placing the capo up a couple of frets!!”, which admittedly was somewhat of a stretch yet valid consideration. After my verbal love tap I basked in the glory of righteousness.

Mark once again simply countered, “Well, that was pretty weak.”

“Ok, but still valid,” I said. “Especially if you want to try it on your electric uke, tune the first string down from an A to a G to simulate an open 3 note major triad tuning, use a slide and plug it into a delay pedal for a totally different voicing and effect. Additionally with a capo at one of the first couple of frets you could really dazzle them with something new to the ear.”

As we drove through the hills on the outskirts of York during my tour, Ukulele Adventures: The Ukulele vs. the Advanced Beginner, I knew I had Mark on the ropes. I kept the pressure on as I included the fact that another player (and instrument) joining the group might play the selected tune in a different key than the one the Ukulele player is used to playing. A capo would solve the problem by accommodating the desires of the additional player by placing the capo at the properly selected fret.

Mark then scoffed and retorted, “Well, that’s the beauty of the uke. It would only take you a few minutes to relearn a simple tune in a different key with a new set of chords.”

lite-ukeSilence reigned in the car as we navigated further down the windy road, clouds forming in the sky around the bend and beads of sweat budding on my brow. Never one to take a good verbal licking, I moused out a quip under my breath, “You know, one of my sponsors Shubb Capos has lightweight multi-colored Ukulele capos which are pretty cool.”

Mark shot me a quizzical yet curious look and said, “Really?”. He nodded in bemused approval, offered me a dip into the bag of some of his crisps and we continued on down the highway soon to be embraced by the sacred land of Strawberry Fields Forever, The Cavern, and home of Penny Lane.
Gilewitz_strawberry fields long

Read and watch more about Richard’s Ukulele Adventures.

About the author

Richard Gilewitz

For over three decades fingerstyle guitarist Richard Gilewitz has charmed audiences with road tales and right-hand wizardry, creating a sparkle of mood mastery and wonderment during each performance. Recognized world wide as a performer who has a quirky take on everything around him, Richard lives up to this depiction with rousing shows filled with offbeat observations and 6 & 12-string gymnastics. As a youngster, Richard Gilewitz embraced such diverse artists as The Beatles, Andres Segovia, Kraftwerk, Leo Kottke, J.S. Bach, Arlo Guthrie, John Fahey and Flatt & Scruggs. With Richard's signature playing style delivering a technical diversity of banjo style picking patterns, classical arpeggios, tapping and harmonics, along with a rhythmic and percussive approach, he shares a fresh impression of sound to the listener during his concert performances and at his annual 2-day GillaCamp Guitar Workshop. Students around the globe also attend Richard's roving GillaCamp Guitar Workshop, a 1 to 4 hour interactive experience that provides players an avenue to renew their love of the guitar. In between touring, Richard conducts private lessons and also teaches students through Skype. Catch Richard's tour schedule at www.richardgilewitz.com

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