Guitar capos are an essential tool for both professional and amateur guitarists. From making difficult keys more accessible, to brightening up the tone of your instrument or changing the key of a song effortlessly, guitar capos offer both practical and creative possibilities. Some of the most iconic songs ever played on guitar such as Hotel California, Here Comes The Sun, Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah, and Wonderwall to name a few, were created with the aid of a guitar capo. In the first part of this guide, we reviewed the best guitar capos so that you can choose the most suitable to your taste, playing, and budget. In the second part of the article, you will find out more about how guitar capos work, a detailed description of guitar capo types, and how to use them effectively in functional and creative ways.
What are the best guitar capos?
1) Grover GP750 Ultra Capo
The design of the GP 750 guitar capo was specifically created to give more room for the left hand’s thumb behind the neck of the guitar. It is very easy to put on, put off, and adjust across the neck with a single hand. It applies even pressure to all six strings of the instrument so there are no tuning or fret-buzzing issues. It features a non-glare matte finish with a soft and no-slip grip. Available in black, red, and silver. Life-time warranty as all Grover products.
Easy and quick application.
Designed for acoustic guitars and electric guitars.
Slim design and stylish matte finish.
Pressure is not adjustable.
2) D’Addario NS Pro Guitar Capo
The D’Addario Pro guitar capo model guarantees perfect intonation and buzz-free ringing strings at any fret. Its minimal design and light weight do not get in the way of the player.
It is easy to adjust and tighten. The micrometer adjustment mechanism allows precise calibration of the exact tension needed at different positions on the neck. It is built with aircraft-grade aluminum which can sustain tough conditions during live performances.
Available in Black, Silver, Metallic Bronze, and Metallic Grey.
Slender and minimal design.
Precise pressure adjustments.
It fits electric guitars, acoustic guitars, 12-string guitars and classical guitars.
Single hand application a bit slower than spring guitar capos.
Few colour options.
3) Dunlop 83CS Trigger Guitar Capo
The curved design of this guitar capo is specifically tailored to acoustic guitars and allows a fast and easy one-hand application. Its slim profile ensures comfort and effortless movements on the fingerboard. The aircraft-grade aluminium guarantees durability and reliability in any live situation. The strong trigger action keeps it firmly in place while maintaining even pressure on all strings. This guitar capo features soft padding to protect the neck of your acoustic guitar. Available in a variety of colours such as Nickel, Gold, Black, Smoke, and Maple.
Sturdy and durable build.
Easy to put on with a single hand.
Made for acoustic guitars.
Pressure cannot be adjusted.
4) Ernie Ball Axis Guitar Capo
The Ernie Ball Axis is the perfect combination of simplicity, functionality, and style.
It is compatible with most acoustic guitars and electric guitars and allows fast and single-handed application. Its dual-radius design adapts to both flat and curved fretboards, so you can be rest assured that this capo will get you covered. By flipping the guitar capo to the specific side for your fretboard, you will experience clear ringing notes and no buzzing at all. Additionally, it works well with seven string electric guitars, which can be convenient for a specific niche of guitar players. Moulded rubber pads ensure the protection of your instrument at all times. It is available in eight beautiful and stylish colour finishes, so you can be sure that your aesthetic taste will be satisfied as well!
Quick single-handed application
Fits all types of fingerboard
Elegant design and colour options
Great for both electric guitars and electric guitars
Retuning after application could be required
Might create some rattling if kept clamped to the headstock
5) G7th Performance 3 Guitar Capo
With its unique ART – Aptive Radius Technology – the G7th Performance 3 guitar capo adapts to the curvature of the guitar’s fretboard while applying even pressure across all strings. This ingenious and ground-breaking technology guarantees perfect tuning stability while minimizing the amount of pressure required. Whether you use this guitar capo on your acoustic guitar or electric guitar, you will be in total control of the pressure placed on the strings at any given position on the fingerboard.
The G7 Performance 3 is equipped with non-reactive silicone pads which guarantee maximum protection to your instrument. When not in use, the guitar capo can be stored next to the nut of the guitar for quick and easy access. With a bit of practice, it is also possible to learn how to operate this capo with a single hand, thus making its use quick and efficient in a gig situation.
Great adaptability to different fretboard’s radiuses with its unique ‘ART’ innovation.
Works with 6 string acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and hybrid nylon strings guitars.
Best control over the pressure applied to the strings.
Available in three beautiful finishes: Silver, Satin Black, and 18kt Gold.
6) Shubb C1 Guitar Capo
Schubb capos have been around for over 40 years and they remain one of the most reliable names in the industry. The unique ‘over-center’ locking mechanism provides a great mixture of strength, accuracy, and ease of use. By flipping the lever lock, you can secure the capo to the guitar’s fingerboard and remove it just as easily and quickly. The soft and durable rubber is accurately designed to resemble the fingertips of the human hand, thus ensuring that the strings are not pushed beyond the contact point with the frets. Simultaneously, the precise closing action keeps the pull on the strings right on the center which results in tuning accuracy and no buzzing noises.
Industry standard for over 40 years.
Strong nickel-plated build.
Fits most acoustic guitars and electric guitars.
Accurate and powerful locking mechanism.
Doesn’t allow single-hand positioning.
Not suitable for vintage extreme radius guitars.
7) Fender Phoenix Guitar Capo
The Fender Phoenix guitar capo ensures great tuning stability for any acoustic guitar or electric guitar. Its ergonomic design guarantees quick and easy single-hand fitting. The lightweight aluminium body of this capo makes it strong and durable. It is also extremely affordable and easy to use, which is perfect as a first investment for the more novice players.
Simple to use and quick one hand application
Great for acoustic guitars and electric guitars
Lack of colour options
Its flat claw contour is not ideal for guitars with a more pronounced fretboard’s radius
8) Kyser Quick Change Guitar Capo
The Kyser Quick Change has been an institution in the acoustic guitar world since its first conception in 1981, which developed out of the original banjo model built for Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia in 1974. It has been used by a plethora of great artists and professional players across the globe. It’s still proudly made in Texas with materials sourced from small businesses in the States.
With its iconic trigger mechanism, this guitar capo is renowned for its fast and quick application and for keeping the guitar in tune after use. Its strong aluminium body guarantees durability and its sleek and small build makes it easy to store in your gig bag or guitar case. With its low profile over the fretboard, it stays out of the way of the player. It also ensures that the finish of your guitar is not damaged by its use. As far as the aesthetic department is concerned, Kyser offers a wide range with over 25 colours, thus offering guitar players plenty of options to choose from and keep their aesthetic taste satisfied.
Over four decades as an benchmark in the world of guitar capos.
Fast application and no need for retuning.
Simple and sturdy build made to last.
Widest variety of colour choice.
Kyser has specialized capos for either electric guitars, acoustic guitars, or classical guitars; so if you’re looking for one-size-fits-all type of guitar capo you may have to look elsewhere.
9) Dunlop Pivot Guitar Capo
This beautiful and modern-looking guitar capo offers balanced tension across all strings and great intonation across the neck of your guitar. The smooth screwing mechanism allows precise and fine adjustments. This is particularly relevant for guitars with jumbo or tall frets, which can create intonation issues when using trigger capos without adjustable pressure.
Clarity of tone and long ringing notes will make playing with a guitar capo even more satisfying thanks to the dense rubber pads specifically designed to enhance sustain. The self-centering neck system is able to deliver consistent pressure and tuning stability to a wide range of neck types, thus making this capo very adaptable and versatile. Available in Satin Chrome, Gun Metal, and Black.
Fine, precise, and smooth pressure adjustments.
Adaptability to a variety of acoustic and electric guitars and fretboards’ radii.
Rubber pads increase sustain and tone clarity.
Self-centering pivot system
Minimal and elegant design and finishing.
Requires two-hand application
10) Paige Clik Guitar Capo
The Paige guitar capo has a unique design with an advanced quick-release mechanism that allows precise control of the amount of pressure applied on the strings. Tension is directly focused onto the centre of the neck, thus ensuring great sustain and no string buzzing. The design also features soft and thick tubing which allows strings bending while keeping the strings in place. It is extremely thin, thus it does not interfere with the guitarist’s fretting hand.
To install this capo on your instrument, squeeze the sides to open up the fretting bar; move the capo to the desired fret location; push the thumb screw in to set the initial pressure; and finally turn the screw for final precise adjustments. To release the capo, unscrew the trigger and then click it for full release. Easily slide the capo behind the nut and store it there when not in use.
Precise pressure control.
Guarantees great intonation and maximizes notes sustain.
Easy to store behind the nut of the guitar.
Paige Capos have specific measurements which don’t fit a wide range of guitar types and fretboards’ radii.
The installation of the capo may be a bit fidgety for some.
Click mechanism can wear out with excessive use
11) Thalia 200 Series Guitar Capo
Thalia specializes in designing gorgeous guitar capos with unique aesthetics. Their range includes exotic wood and shell inlays such as mother of pearl, rosewood, snakeskin, and Hawaiian Koa to name a few. Thalia capos are built with die cast zinc and heavy duty spring to guarantee durability and reliability.
From a technical viewpoint, Thalia capos come with ‘seven standard’ and ‘seven high tension’ rubber fretpads which are intended to match the exact radius of your instrument. This guarantees that the chosen fretpad will perfectely adhere to your instrument’s fretboard, thus ensuring perfect intonation and great sustain. The total of 14 fretpads included with every purchase make Thalia capos incredibly functional to a variety of instruments, such as electric guitars and acoustic guitars, 12 string guitars, banjos, and ukuleles.
Compact and strong build.
Stunningly crafted with unique finishes
14 fretpads to match the exact fretboard’s radius of your instrument.
Suitable for a variety of instruments.
Easy and quick single-hand use.
Case and microfiber cleaning/gig pouch included.
Installing and changing the fretpads is not as easy as it claims.
Not ideal if you intend to use the same capo sequentially on different instruments.
12) Donner DC-2 Guitar Capo
The Donner DC-2 guitar capo is made of high quality zinc alloy and features a stylish and simple design. Quality materials, such as the precisely-crafted silicon pads, have been chosen to ensure both clean and ringing tones and well-calibrated pressure on the strings. The Donner DC-2 has been constructed with precise mechanics, thus offering balance pressure on the strings and ensuring consistent intonation and lack of strings buzzing. Its superior structural design makes it easy to open while providing a firm clamping and balanced force. It also adapts very well to a variety of necks, including U-shape, C-shape, and V-shape. The sleek curved design fits all guitars and other stringed instruments as well.
It comes in four colours, Black, Silver, Gold, and Cinnamon.
One of the best guitar capo deals
Elegant, compact, and minimal design
Built with lightweight and high quality zinc alloy
Easy to use
Curved design fits most guitars and other instruments
Balanced force ensures great intonation and clear tones
13) Spider Capo
The Spider Capo is definitely one of coolest guitar accessories ever invented. Its unfamiliar design will most likely puzzle anyone who will see you use one of these at your gigs. The beauty of this guitar capo is that it allows you to choose what strings you want to apply pressure on at any chosen neck position, thus functioning as a universal partial capo. Individual levers allow you to select the tuning of individual strings while the simple attachment design ensures quick and easy movements up and down the guitar’s neck. Moreover, the standard model fits all electric guitars and acoustic guitars alike. Additional specific models such as the Spider Capo XXL and Spider Capo Mini were designed for wider necked instruments and ukulele, banjos, and mandolin respectively. This ingenious tool has virtually endless applications in terms of tuning possibilities, so your creativity will have no limits.
Great conceptual tool with limitless tuning possibilities.
Creation of new sonorities.
Fantastic device for unique-sounding chords and compositions.
Adjusting the individual levers requires more time than simply putting on a standard capo.
Choosing the very best guitar capo is quite a challenging task considering the variety of types and models available on the market as well as giving attention to their versatility, price range, and overall appearance. Therefore, we decided to offer you our three best picks based on capo types.
Our best pick for a spring guitar capo is the Donner DC-2. It is a stylish and well-built device that delivers balanced force while being very easy and quick to put on your instrument. It does what a capo is supposed to do and it does it very well, thus making it one of the best deals on the market. We also liked that the Donner’s curved design fits different neck shapes thus making it a highly versatile tool. At such a low price, this guitar capo is an absolute steal!
Secondly, we loved the D’Addario NS Pro. To put it simply, having the luxury of precise pressure calibration with its micro-meter mechanism is something extremely valuable. This will eliminate the risk of putting excessive force on the strings, which may cause unwanted intonation problems especially when the capo is fitted on electric guitars with light-gauged strings and classical guitars. The NS Pro is built with quality and durable materials and its small and unobtrusive design allows the player to move around it with ease. Its versatility allows its application to most acoustic and electric guitars and its moderate price makes it a great choice for any player.
Finally, we choose the G7th Performance 3 as it exemplifies innovation, versatility, ground-breaking technology, and quality construction. This beautiful tool is like the Ferrari of guitar capos. It is expensive but it allows such precise calibration of pressure on the strings while adapting to most guitars’ neck shapes thanks to its innovative ART technology. It is also easy on the eye thanks to its modern and sleek design and beautiful colour options.
We truly encourage any intermediate and advanced guitar players to give the Spider Capo a try. This quirky little tool will surely make your guitar sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before. It is such a cool and mind-bending experience to simply be able to have an instrument where every chord shape, scale, and lick (and song for that matter) you know is not available anymore! Set up the Spider Capo anywhere, put a few levers down, and see what happens. It is the ultimate fun and refreshing experience.
We finally want to recognize the work of Thalia Capos in terms of their commitment to deliver extremely functional and versatile guitar capos that look like a work of art. Despite being expensive and being tailored to a specific neck radius, one can only admire the beauty, elegance, and uniqueness of their design and attention to details. After all, the guitar is a work of art, so why not complementing it with another piece of art? Thalia guitar capos would make the perfect gift for any guitar lover. Don’t blame us if you get addicted to them!
What is a guitar capo?
A capo, from the Italian word ‘capotasto’ meaning ‘head of the fretboard’, is a clamp-like device that is attached to the neck of various stringed instruments, such as guitars, mandolins, banjos, ukulele, and bouzoukis in order to raise the pitch of the instrument and shorten the playable length of the strings. Using a capo allows musicians to play in a different key while using common chord shapes that are normally played in the open position (without the capo). Despite having many different shapes, sizes, and overall mechanical designs, all capos consist of a rubber-covered bar which applies pressure to the strings and holds them firmly pressed against the frets. In this section, we focus on describing the three main types of capo that we consider functional, reliable, and favoured by professional musicians.
Trigger Capos/Spring Capos
These two types of capos mainly consist of two components: one bar, which is covered by a rubber or silicon, applies pressure directly against the strings; another bar presses against the back of the instrument in order to hold the device in a steady position while maintaining pressure. The two bars are attached together at a pivot point and a spring presses the two together. Each of the two bars has a gripping part: this allows the user to squeeze them together in order to release the pressure. The main benefit of this style of capos is that they can be applied and removed very quickly with a single hand. This is particularly valuable during live performances. Their main downside is that they do not allow you to calibrate how much pressure will be applied to the strings, thus causing intonation problems at times. Our advice is to always check the tuning of your instrument after applying and removing a trigger or spring capo. Some trigger capos do have a dual-action design, which lets you fine-tune the pressure on the strings after installation.
Adjustable Screw Capos/Yoke-style Capos
The main improvement these capos offer is the control over the amount of pressure exerted on the strings by featuring a screwing mechanism at the back of the device. This is particularly important if you want to have precise and adjustable pressure calibration in order to avoid clamping the strings too hard, which can cause tuning problems. Obviously, fitting the capo onto the guitar and then adjusting the pressure with precision requires more time.
Adjustable screw capos have a similar design to trigger or spring capos. They consist of two metal bars adhering to the string and the back of the instrument. The main difference is that the pressure is controlled by a screwing mechanism rather than a spring. Yoke-style capos have a slightly different design in that the device wraps itself around the entire neck of the instrument. Their minimal width ensures comfortable storage behind the nut when not in use. Moreover, the screw in Yoke-style capos is located right in the centre of the capo thus maximizing even distribution of pressure.
Among this category, we included the G7th Peformance and the Schubb models. The G7th features a mechanism which is essentially a wrap spring clutch. This sophisticated high-tech capo allows the player to squeeze it in the desired position and regulate the amount of pressure needed. A control lever located at the back releases the pressure and allows the capo to open. The G7th also features its revolutionary ART mechanism which evenly distributes the pressure on the strings by responding to the radius of the fretboard and the gauge of the strings used. This guarantees the best tuning stability while exerting the minimum amount of force.
Schubb models are similar to adjustable screw capos but they feature a roller-based mechanism located at the back of the device rather than a simple screw-based type of apparatus. As you close the capo, the roller design allows the force to gradually move off-centre, as the picture below illustrates. This increases functionality, smoothness of applications and reduces wear.
This detailed description will definitely help you clarify the functionality of different types of capos as well as giving you more clarity towards deciding which capo suits your needs the best. In the next section, we will discuss some of the musical implications of using a capo.
What are the benefits of using a capo?
As mentioned in the introduction, one of the most important features of using a capo is its ability to instantly transpose the key of a song. We are not encouraging guitar players to learn a few chords, buy a capo and then forget about continuing to develop their skills as a player. Rather, we suggest learning how to use a capo effectively so that you make it into a powerful tool at your disposals. This will particularly be beneficial at the beginning stages of learning the guitar in which executing barre chords up and down the neck seems like an impossible task.
The guitar’s standard tuning favours keys such as C, G, D, A, and E. In those five tonalities, it is possible to play the three major chords in the key (I, IV, and V) without the need of barre chords. These chords are the pillars of Western harmony, so you will encounter them in thousands of songs.
As soon as we shift to other keys such as B, F, Bb, and Eb, it is necessary to have a good grasp of barre shapes even to play simple chord progressions such as I, IV, and V. In these circumstances, the use of a capo will allow to turn those tricky barre chord shapes into the open chord shapes we have already mastered.
In order to understand how to position the capo to match a certain key, simply think that each fret of the guitar corresponds to one semitone or half-step. For example, if you are attempting to play a song in the key of Bb, you can simply place the capo on the 1st fret of the guitar and play an open A shape. Because the capo raises the pitch of all strings by one semitone, the A shape will actually sound as a Bb. Alternatively, you will get the same result by positioning the capo on the 3rd fret and play and open G chord because Bb is three semitone higher than G. Familiarize yourself with the chromatic scale and, with a bit of practice, this process will get easier and easier.
Another reason why you may need to transpose the key of a song may not be related to how difficult playing a song is at all. This is particularly relevant when a female singer attempts to sing a song originally sung by a male vocalist and vice versa. Male and female voices are naturally an octave apart from one another, therefore key changes are often necessary in order to avoid having to sing notes that are outside the natural range of your voice.
Another circumstance when capos are essential is when we need to change the key of a song that has a very specific guitar part. Even if you are a more advanced player who competently plays in every key without a capo, certain guitar parts are going to be affected by the key change and need to be completed rearranged. This will negatively affect the overall character and unique sonority of the song. If we take Blackbird by The Beatles as an example, we see that the guitar part features the repetition of a sustained open G string throughout, as the score below shows. The note G in this case is the root note of the key we are in, which is G major.
As soon as you transpose the song to another key without the use of the capo, it is impossible the sustain the root note while moving around the fingerboard as the guitar part requires. Notice how in bars 4, the left hand suddenly climbs up to the 10th while the open G string rings in the background. Similarly, the left hand gradually moves up from the 3rd to 7th position in bars 5 and 6 while the open G is still ringing throughout. It is impossible to play those chord shapes in higher positions of the fingerboard while keeping one note anchored at a much lower fret. With the use of the capo, you’d be able to play the exact same guitar part without the need of adjusting the guitar part and therefore maintain the essence of the guitar part intact.
Finally, capos offer you a variety of new keys that most beginners have no access to. Each key has a unique feel and sound, therefore putting the capo on will give familiar chords a fresh and interesting new sonority. Moreover, a capo allows you to have different pitches ringing thorough as open strings, which can be an interesting way of creating guitar parts and chords with a more distinctive sound.
The guitar has a lot of hidden beautiful sounds hidden in itself and capos can help bring out some incredibly interesting and innovative musical ideas. So, add a capo to your toolkit and have fun exploring and creating music!