Some people may say using a capo to play the guitar is cheating. However, if it helps save you time and stress on difficult keys then I think it would be stupid to disregard the benefit of a capo as a learning tool. In this article we will look at What a Capo is and how it works and some of the different types of Capos on the market.
A Capo is used to shorten the string length and to allow you to play open chords in different keys even if your guitar is in standard tuning. One of the main advantages of the capo is that you can use the same fingerpicking pattern, for example, instead of having to relearn the song again. A good capo will help you quickly adapt your Guitar chords with the Singer’s tune, which increases flexibility as well as your performance’s quality. Guitarists do not have to tune their guitar every time they change songs and do not have to learn complex chords that are on the lower part of the neck. So now, let me show you some different types of capos, along with their pros and cons.
1. Trigger / Spring Capos
Trigger or Spring Capos may be the most popular ones for all Guitarists thanks to their easy and inexpensive characteristics. They are used for applying pressure on strings quickly due to their simple structure. Choosing a clip or a spring may be based on your personal preference, however, typically the first one is designed for Acoustic Guitars and the other for Electric ones.
- Simple design
- Easy to use and take off, which would be very helpful for live performances
- Inexpensive and popular
- Being suitable for a beginner capo user
- Firm attachment and durable life
- Cannot manually adjust the tension of the capo, it may be too loose or tight
This product is designed as a one-handed Quick-Change capo, built with strong, lightweight aluminum with a steel spring. It is made in the USA, has professional quality and a whole-life guarantee.
Ergonomic shape and a padded handle make fret positioning easy. It has a strong spring action which clamps firmly in place on your Guitar. It is available in five finishes and has both versions for 6 and 12 string guitars.
This is a highly recommended product for professional experiences. It is built to last – built of lightweight high quality zinc alloy (aircraft grade metal), easy to move but still fits perfectly on your Guitars, can be used for both electric and acoustic guitars, ukulele banjo, folk guitars and mandolin, and so on. You won’t have to be worry about scratches because its high-qualified silicone pad will protect your instrument against damage. In addition, its steel spring with internal memory will also provide strength and fatigue resistance with just enough pressure on each guitar.
2. Screw Capo
This kind of capo operates by having a screw that you tighten down, applying pressure to the back of the guitar neck (typically through an arm). It means that you can manually adjust the pressure applied on your instruments, which is extremely efficient for a thin neck or a guitar that has high action. However, being adjustable also means that you will need more time to fit it with your Guitar.
- Put the perfect level of tension on a guitar regardless of the guitar’s neck size, string action, or fret position.
- Applies pressure evenly, which keeps the tune better.
- Takes two hands to put it on.
- Repositioning takes a lot of time so it’s not recommended for on-stage performance.
- Unscrewing the knob to take it off is not the easiest/smoothest process. Especially when you have to loosen the screw enough to clear the strings.
This Capo is highly recommended because of its inexpensiveness along with quality. It will fit perfectly with your classical Guitar’s wider neck and is also made of Ultra-Light Aerospace Grade Aluminum with one hand operation design.
3. Shubb Capo
If you want to find a product that can combine both the speed of a trigger capo and the precision of a screw one, Shubb Capo would be the best choice. Born in 1980s, it seem has all the advantages a Guitarist need from a capo, being quick repositioning, firm attachment and suitable for different instruments as well as different playing styles, its only disadvantages may come from its higher price!
- Allows the user to apply a unique tension on the fret of the guitar.
- Quick release.
- Being quite expensive, compared to other types.
Shubb C1 Nickel Capo:
This slightly curved design fits most acoustic steel string and electric guitars. Shubb quality ensures top-level performance. If you have a curved fretboard, the Shubb C4 would be a great choice for you.
4. Strap capo
Strap Capo is simply a strap that attaches to the Guitar’s neck, usually made of elastic materials which help it easily stick onto your Guitar. It is easy to use and inexpensive, you can even make it on your own with some simple equipment. However, the Strap Capo is usually blamed for wearing out quickly and movement.
- Easy to use.
- Guitarist can quickly change its position.
- Easily wear out.
- May slip a little bit when playing, which affects the tune.
- Jim Dunlop 70F Flat Strap Elastic Guitar Capo: This is designed for Classical Guitars which fits flat fingerboards. It is made of strong elastic, which stops it wearing out. In addition, being able to slip it into a new position without being unfastened is also a big plus point.
5. Toggle Capo
Toggle Capo is just as same as the strap one with an added latch for ensuring its firmly attached. There are several increments that can be tightened along multiple notches on the back of the capo. However, there’re some drawbacks that I do not like on the Toggle. For example, when applying the strap on your Guitar, it tends to lie in between two notches; either one notch happens to be too loose and the other notch is too tight. It also easily wears out, especially elastic ones and in some cases when you stretch it too much, it can break!
- Can cause tuning issues and damage your Guitar.
It is designed for curved fingerboards, providing extremely positive clamping and will not scratch your guitar, its low profile is guaranteed not to hinder your fingering. It is cheap and suitable for beginners or the Ukulele.
6. Partial Capo
If you’re an advanced player and want to create something unique, the Partial Capo will help you do so. It’s quite rare and only has a short piece that clips to the fretboard, maybe covering 3 of the 6 strings. That’s the reason why this kind of Capo may not be recommended for new players, you will need time practicing the controlling and creating of your own chords.
- Unique and interesting.
- Quite expensive.
- Not easy to use.
Shubb C7B Brass Partial Capo (covers 3 inside strings):
Covers 3 inside strings. (skips 6, covers 5-4-3) Precisely machined of brass and carefully hand assembled, a Shubb capo is manufactured without compromise. Simply holding one in your hand conveys a sense of quality. Snapping it solidly onto a guitar neck, and then removing it, all within about one second, will confirm its reputation for excellence.
7. G7th Capo
G7th Capo may be quite strange for some people even though it was built in 2004. However, both my friends and I like it for its simple, gentle and unique structure. Its tension system is designed to close the capo and hold it (with good strength) at whatever position you place it. No springs, chip-bag-clip-like pinching – very neat and easy. In addition, the inside of the capo is lined with rubber and the outside of the capo doesn’t have any sharp metal edges, which is very gentle for your instruments. When wanting to customize the tension, all you need to do is squeeze the capo over the neck and it automatically locks into place. However, it is heavier than other types.
- Simple, gentle and unique
- Easily and quickly adjusts
- Firm attachment
- Being quite heavy, you can feel like it weighs down the neck of your Guitar.
- Quite expensive
This Capo has a small and sleek design which is not obstructive on your instrument. The special thing here is that it fits with both Acoustic and Electric Guitars, which is the point not many kinds of Capo can do and will save your budget if you have both kinds of instruments.
Choosing the best Capo is based on not only the types of Capos but also the types of your Guitars. Normally you will see Capos on the Acoustic instruments, but it does not mean that Capos cannot be used on the Electric ones. The only difference here is that the Electrics will need more pressure than the previous ones. When choosing a capo, it normally says “made for acoustic guitars” or “made for electric guitars” on the package, which will be very helpful.
The Capo may be one of the most supportive tools for your Guitar, so do not hesitate to invest in a good one. I do not mean that you have to choose an extremely expensive Capo, it’s up to your budget, but always take into consideration that the cheapest one may cause damage to your Guitars and have no usage at all!
The way of using your Capos is also extremely important because if they are wrongly used, they can cause damage to the finish of your instruments. Remember to gently take Capos on and off your Guitars, make sure that you do not mistakenly make any scratches. Do not forget to take the Capo out of the Guitar when you do not play it because it will cause more tension with no help at all. Last but not least, please do not tune your Guitar when the Capo is on since it has already put some pressures on the strings, tuning them might simply cause out of tune or even breakage.
There are many ratings pages recommended for your choosing reference, however, if you have a chance, I think it is always better for you to directly bring your Guitar to the store and match them together to make sure that the curvature in the capo bar is suitable with the curvature in the fretboard. It will give a great opportunity to learn the fretboard and experiment with different chords and chord shapes. Have fun and experiment in the journey to explore the beauty of a capo and create something belonging to your own style too!