I was born on the island of Oahu, in the beautiful state of Hawaii in the year 19-eighty something! My name is Keli’i. In English it means “The Small”. Its funny since the name Keali’i means “The Chief”. Just add a letter and the meaning is completely different. And for my middle and high school education I attended Kamehameha, a school for native Hawaiians. Only people of Hawaiian decent can attend this prestigious school. At Kamehameha, the curriculum incorporates and instills the Hawaiian culture in it's students. And by the way, the pronunciation of Kamehameha is the same as in the anime Dragon Ball. Hearing the character's scream it out still cracks me up!
So you might be wondering…
”Why are you telling me about your Hawaiian ancestry and how you are so lucky to have been raised in Hawaii? What does this have to do with ukulele?”
Well, here’s where things take an unsuspecting turn in my past. It might sound crazy but after being pretty much destined to play the ukulele by heritage and culture, my first stringed instrument was actually a guitar!
“Huh, Keli’i? You are a Native Hawaiian and steeped in the culture! And you chose the guitar over the majestic four stringed ukulele.....really? What's up with that!”
I must confess, I pushed the ukulele aside and grabbed the guitar! I know, blasphemous right? I took guitar classes at Kamehameha instead of ukulele. Maybe it was the rebel in me... haha! So this brings us to the topic in the title, the capo! As an avid guitar player of over 20 years I was already familiar with using a capo since we use it all the time in the guitar world. Every guitar player has one in their case. It is as essential as having a tuner!
So it was to my surprise when I started seeing this little wonder from the guitar world make its way to the ukulele. We are seeing now the rise of the ukulele capo! You gotta understand that for almost a century locals never used any kind of capo on the ukulele. So with over 20 years of capo experience as a guitar player, here is a breakdown of what a capo is, what it’s used for, and if you should add one to your ukulele arsenal.
Taking its name from the Italian word for "head," a capo is a small device that clamps onto the neck of a ukulele and shortens the length of the strings, raising their pitch. A capo is usually fastened across all the strings of a ukulele, or other fretted stringed instrument.