Last Updated: June-08-2018
Plenty had changed in the world of capos since we last looked at this article, so we made several amendments to both the guide and the chart. This included adding some new models, such as two modern classics – the GUITARX X3 Original Guitar Capo 2.0 and the Shubb Deluxe Series GC-30 – as well as a great budget capo, the Donner DC-2.
While not as fundamental as a cable, strap or a stand, when it comes to guitar-enhancing accessories, a capo stands among some of the most useful devices.
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So, you need to have your wits about you when buying a new capo. Which is why this article may prove handy in your search. We have trawled the market and put together a chart of our favorite capos as well as a short guide on how to find the best one for you. But first…
Before we take a look at some of our favorites, it’s worth explaining to the newer player what a capo actually is and how one works.
A guitar capo is a clamp-like device that sits over the strings of an acoustic guitar (you can use one on an electric too, but it’s much less common). All capos feature a padded bar that can be positioned across any frets of the neck, shortening the playable length of the instrument and changing the instrument’s open pitch.
Think of it like an extra finger. For example, placing a capo across the second fret results in the same effect as pressing and holding your finger on the second fret of each string. So, if you were in standard tuning, that would change the open notes you play from E, A, D, G, B, E to F#, B, E, A, C, F#.
|Image||Guitar Capo / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| GUITARX X3 Original Guitar Capo 2.0 |
Total of 4.83/5
This original clamp capo remains the one to beat.
|+ -|| Kyser Quick-Change Capo |
Total of 4.83/5
American-made lightweight aluminum capo with a cool design.
|+ -|| Nordic Essentials Guitar Capo Deluxe |
Total of 4.83/5
The sophisticated choice with a brushed metal finish.
|+ -|| Shubb Deluxe Series GC-30 |
Total of 4.70/5
A classic design used by countless guitarists.
|+ -|| D’Addario Planet Waves NS Artist Classical Capo |
Total of 4.77/5
A quality capo specifically for classical guitars.
|+ -|| Donner DC-2 |
Total of 4.77/5
A no-frills budget clamp that does the job.
|+ -|| Shubb C7B Brass Partial Capo |
Total of 4.67/5
A popular flipping-lever capo for partial string coverage.
|+ -|| Paige P6E 6-String Guitar Capo |
Total of 4.77/5
American-made capo offering even pressure across the strings.
This reassuringly sturdy clamp capo is one of the most popular and highly-rated capos on the market today – and for good reason. Coming in at under $20, the X3 capo is made of a lightweight aircraft-grade zinc alloy, with a polished chrome finish for a very sleek look.
It performs very well, with a memory steel spring and a high-quality silicone pad holding the strings firmly, ensuring great intonation at all frets with no danger of falling out of tune.
The original and still one of the best, this capo should last a lifetime.
Next, we have one of the most extravagant clamp capos, which is handmade in Texas by Kyser. The high quality of this model is instantly apparent from the moment you open the packaging.
It’s made from a very durable and lightweight aluminum with a steel spring, that makes attaching it to the guitar with one hand a cinch.
Kyser offer this capo in a huge rainbow of colors, from standard black, blue, yellow and white, to more unique variations such as tie-die, copper vein and American flag. Looks great, works well and doesn’t break the bank.
Another excellent clamp capo which proves incredibly popular comes from Nordic Essentials. Made from a premium-grade zinc alloy with a steel spring and silicone pads, this attractive capo caters to many tastes by coming in a range of sophisticated metallic finishes.
These include a brushed bronze, black, gold and a matte silver. As with all good clamp capos, it is easy to use with one hand and does not affect your tuning.
A bonus is that it comes with its own branded carrying pouch, making it great for travelling guitarists.
This incredibly popular capo is a modern classic from Shubb. With an elegant style, the GC-30 uses Shubb’s adjustable flipping lever with a smooth roller mechanism, which makes it easy and fast to attach and remove from the guitar.
It’s made from a durable stainless steel, with a custom-made rubber that mimics the feel of a finger by offering ‘just the right amount of pressure’, so it holds the strings firmly but ensures they remain in tune.
There’s no wonder why this has been the choice of so many guitarists over the past 30 years.
Thanks to models like the NS Artist Classical, there is no reason classical guitarists should miss out on the tonal versatility a capo can bring to their instrument.
This premium clamp capo is specifically designed for classical guitars with flat/non-radiused fretboards. It is made with the quality we have come to expect from D’Addario, using a very lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum.
It also includes a micrometer tension adjustment for easy pressure tweaks, leading to a buzz-free performance that keeps your guitar in tune. Not the cheapest capo, but a worthy investment.
Donner is a brand that specializes in the budget market – so it makes sense that they would add a budget capo to their collection. This affordable clamp capo comes in at under ten bucks and proves a very useful tool.
While it doesn’t feel as premium as some of the capos we feature above, it offers good functionality and a quality build. It’s made of a lightweight high-quality zinc alloy with a steel spring and silicone pads that compress the strings evenly.
It also comes in four cool finishes – gold, black, silver or cinnamon.
This one won’t be desirable for all guitarists, but for those who want a partial capo, it is hard to beat the C7B from Shubb.
Using Shubb’s distinctive adjustable flipping lever, this capo looks like a regular model with a hand-assembled brass construction and rubber pads, although these pads are shorter so that they skip the outside string and cover the next three (either 2-3-4 or 5-4-3, depending on which side you position the capo).
It’s a well-built capo, as you’d expect from Shubb, and comes in at a decent sub-$20 price.
Sure, it may look like a medieval torture device, but the Paige P6E is an excellent capo that offers even pressure distribution across all strings, as well as huge tension control with a precise adjustment screw.
This ensures both a buzz-free performance and no tuning issues due to the capo. Made in America, this quality capo is light and sturdy, crafted from lightweight metal with rubber pads.
Another advantage is that it is quick and easy to move around the fretboard and conveniently sits behind the nut when not in use.
The most popular variety tends to be the clamp capo – using either a trigger or a spring for tension. You simply squeeze the clamp, place it over the desired position, then release it, leaving the capo clamped to the face. Clamp capos are easy to move around the fretboard with one hand. The only problem with these capos is that they can mess up the intonation slightly as the pressure tends to sit more on one side of the fretboard, so a little adjustment is sometimes needed.
You can also find the adjustable screw capo made famous by Shubb. These capos are also very easy to use and keep the guitar in tune well due to the adjustable screw which evenly distributes pressure. Just position the capo over the desired frets, flip the leaver until the capo squeezes into place. The main problem with this type of capo is that it tends to be harder to change position instantly, and you need two hands to do it.
Yoke-style capos also exist (illustrated by the Paige model in our chart). These capos completely wrap around the neck and use a screw on the rear to apply pressure. The advantages are that you get a very even pressure across all the frets, which is great for intonation and tuning. They also slide around the neck very easily, which is great for quick position changes mid-performance. However, they aren’t as easy to initially put on or remove from a guitar as the other styles of capo.
Finally, you will also find basic designs such as toggle capos and strap capos – both functional enough, although prone to slipping around. Then we have partial capos. This variety is usually a spring or adjustable screw design and has a smaller padded bar, which covers just three strings (missing the outer string) – either 2-3-4 or 5-4-3. This can emulate DADGAD tuning, which is great when you don’t want to completely retune your guitar but still want to take advantage of popular tunings.
Buying a capo shouldn’t be as complicated as buying a new guitar or amp, but there is plenty to take into consideration. While a capo is a simple tool, you could end up with a lousy product if you’re not careful. Here are some things to look out for.
Firstly, look for a capo made from metal such as a lightweight zinc alloy or aluminum, or stainless steel or bronze. You can also find some great capos crafted from wood, although avoid plastic as they are not as sturdy or durable.
Having a tension adjustment, usually in the form of a screw or key is a good feature, as it allows you to fine-tune the pressure of the capo, ensuring a firm grip on the strings. The steel springs you may find on clamp capos are also good as they distribute the pressure more evenly across the fretboard.
As for pads, you will find rubber is often used, although silicone pads tend to be the best choice as they offer a secure grip, with less disruption of intonation and tuning. Padding on both inner sides of the clamp is a good thing as this helps protect the guitar from damage.
You may be surprised to find out how many of your favorite artists and songs use a capo to change the pitch. In fact, you can find capos used in all styles of music, although they are particularly popular in blues, folk, rock and pop music.
Some iconic tunes that heavily rely on the capo include: ‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles (Capo on the 7th fret), ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis (2nd fret), ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by The Beatles (7th fret), ‘Free Fallin’’ by Tom Petty (various frets), ‘Fire and Rain’ by James Taylor (3rd fret), and ‘The Boxer’ by Simon and Garfunkel (2nd fret). There are hundreds more and buying a capo will allow you to play these songs in their original key.
Hopefully you will now understand that, while capos are not complicated, there is a little more to them than first meets the eye. Our chart will hopefully have offered you a little inspiration and guidance ahead of making a purchase.