Gear Review: Kyser Low-Tension Quick-Change Capo

Kyser's Low-Tension Quick-Change capo ($19.95 street), represents the most significant variation on the accessory’s design since its introduction in 1978.

Ever since its invention in the late 1970s, Kyser’s Quick-Change has been one of the most popular and consistently manufactured capos on the market. Kyser products have always been made by hand, from domestic components, at the company’s Texas headquarters. And the Quick-Change’s original design has received only minor tweaks, like the texture of the aluminum used for the capo’s body, to say nothing of the introduction of a wide range of color options.

A new iteration, the Low-Tension Quick-Change capo ($19.95 street), represents the most significant variation on the accessory’s design in 40 years. Unlike its predecessor, the Low-Tension is available in only one monochrome finish—matte black. The capo looks identical to the original, but its spring has 25 percent less tension. According to Kyser, the Low-Tension was designed for modern guitars that require less force from the capo, due to their relatively small necks and low action.


Using a regular Quick-Change for the sake of comparison, I tested the Low-Tension version on a couple of decidedly different instruments: a mid-1960s Gibson L-50, which has a moderately sized C-shape neck, a 1-11/16-inch nut, and low action; and a recent Collings OM1 A T SB with a more ample V-shaped neck, a 1-3/4-inch nut, and factory-spec action. 

On both guitars, the Low-Tension version was noticeably easier to operate, thanks to the lighter action of its spring—an obvious advantage for players who change capo position frequently. In terms of sound, as expected, the stoutly built Collings seemed to prefer the greater tension of the original Quick-Change; its tone felt subtly attenuated when the Low-Tension version was clamped on. But, with its smaller neck and lower action, there wasn’t an appreciable difference in sound between the capos when used on the Gibson. And neither capo distorted the pitch on either guitar.

With its relatively affordable price, Kyser’s Low-Tension Quick Change is a no-brainer accessory for all guitarists who are inclined to capo—especially those who prefer sleek modern instruments.

This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Adam Perlmutter
Adam Perlmutter

Adam Perlmutter holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and a master's degree in Contemporary Improvisation from the New England Conservatory. He is the editor of Acoustic Guitar.

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