Long relegated to very specific kinds of players and styles, cradle capos seem to be having a moment in 2018. Just about everyone who makes a device for quickly changing keys is offering this type of capo, which fits around the neck of your guitar and uses a rear-mounted screw to pull the bar down onto the strings. String powerhouse D’Addario jumps into the pool with the Self-Centering Cradle Capo ($69.99 MAP), one of the lowest-cost cradle capos available.
Designed in part by instrument innovator Ned Steinberger, the Cradle Capo is made from stainless steel. It fits easily around a guitar’s neck—just squeeze the sides together with your fretting hand to latch the hinged crossbar into place, and then adjust the tension with the knurled thumbscrew. The non-marring rubber-coated crossbar and rear plate are the only parts that directly contact your guitar.
I tried the D’Addario on a variety of neck profiles, from Taylor’s speedy modern shape to a clubby vintage style to a soft-V. It worked great on all of them—easily adjusting up to the seventh fret to play the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” and down at the first fret for Johnny Cash tunes.
Cradle capos tend to be expensive because of the precision work needed to make them function properly. D’Addario’s Self-Centering Cradle Capo works efficiently and smoothly, though it doesn’t feel as ultra-refined as some of its more expensive competitors. At well under $100, the D’Addario Cradle Capo is an affordable and solid-performing solution for guitarists interested in checking out this style of capo. daddario.com
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.