Trying out different accessories is an excellent and relatively affordable way to experiment with variations in sound and to get the most from your guitars. Capos have been around almost as long as guitars, and for such a simple device, there are a surprising number of brands, types, and subtle factors involved in choosing one. They are valuable tools for changing the tuning of your guitar, and as such, you should learn how to use a capo and not view them as “cheaters.”
For a closer look at specific capos, dig through some of the reviews, compiled below, that have run in Acoustic Guitar magazine.
The Shubb Capo Royale series shows off the brand’s classic design for steel-, nylon-, 12-string guitars, and other fretted instruments, in two new beautiful sheens. Essentially the same model as the C1, the Capo Royale is available in Gold and Rose Gold. Both finishes accentuate Shubb’s vintage/Art Deco aesthetic, as seen especially in the company’s logo, and make for a stylish touch on any guitar.
When you get down to it, a guitar is pretty much a wooden box with strings and, to extend the analogy, a capo is a clamp. While there are, of course, differences between materials, construction, and subtleties that can make one guitar—or capo—seem better than another, there’s usually not much deviation from the basic form. But a clever accessory from G7th, the Performance 3 capo, has a feature that sets it apart from anything else out there: namely the company’s “adaptive radius technology” (ART).
Kyser’s Low-Tension Quick-Change capo 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.
Long relegated to very specific kinds of players and styles, cradle capos seem to be having a moment. 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 ($62.99 at press time), one of the lowest-cost cradle capos available.
There is a lot of competition in the market for high-end yoke-style capos. The Heritage from G7th is a handsome and well-crafted device for players who place a priority on solid tuning and high quality.
It would be impossible to test every capo on all of your guitars for looks, compatibility, or problems. Luckily, capos are not super expensive, and since they rarely wear out or break, many of us end up with our own mini-collection. There isn’t a single “best” capo that does everything perfectly for every player, and your favorite go-to capo will likely change a number of times over your life. In this article, you’ll find a breakdown of things to consider when choosing the right capo for your needs.
When you ask folks if they know how to use a capo, the answer is often: “Sure, you put it on, and it makes the guitar sound higher, right?” While that is true, in order to fully comprehend the capo’s role as a pocket-size transposition machine and more, knowing exactly where to place it for different keys is an invaluable skill. Once you’ve selected a capo, try this fun Weekly Workout in which Jamie Stillway teaches how to use the device to play in all 12 keys.