Curious to know the what, when, how, and who’s about the guitar capo? Well, you are in the right place. This post will provide you with all the answers to your questions related to this little piece of gear.
What is a Guitar Capo?
A guitar capo is a small piece of a device (gear) that is used on the neck of the guitar ( stringed instruments ) to transpose and reduce the playable length of the strings. This helps musicians, especially guitarists to play with ease.
For example, if it seems hard to play the b minor barre chord on the guitar then you can simply clip the capo on the second fret and play the open A minor chord, to get the exact sound and tone of the b minor barre chord. That is what a Capo does. It simply makes things a little easier for guitarists.
What is Guitar Capo used for?
A guitar capo is specially used by guitarists to shorten the length of the strings and create a temporary nut ( head fret ). This helps guitarists to transpose and play any key or the barre chords just like open chords.
For example, if a guitarist wants to play the b minor barre chord like an open position chord then he/she just has to clip the capo on the second fret and play the ‘a minor’ open chord. It will exactly sound like the b minor bar chord but in a higher pitch.
Also Read – No Capo Guitar Songs
How to use a Guitar Capo?
To use a guitar capo, you have to clip it on the desired fret of the guitar and make sure that all the strings are properly pressed by the padded side of the capo. In case you hear any buzzing sound then you need to readjust its position until you get a clear sound. You have to also make sure that the capo is clipped on the middle of the fret and not touching the fret wires.
While using the capo your guitar may go out of tune due to the high pressure exerted by the capo on the strings. So, when buying a capo, make sure to go for a high-quality one that allows players to adjust the amount of pressure exerted on the strings.
Is Guitar Capo and Ukulele Capo same?
A guitar capo can be used on a ukulele but there are specially made capos available for only ukulele. A cheap made guitar capo can damage the neck of a ukulele because of the high pressure exerted by it. It is better to have different capos for different instruments. So, the answer to this question is no, they are not the same.
Types of Guitar Capos
Though there are various types of guitar capos, they usually function the same way. Some capos are simpler to use while some are complicated. .
Spring Loaded Capos
This is the most common type of capo, musicians use. It usually has a spring-based mechanism that allows musicians to clip or remove the capo easily. One can even add or remove it while in the middle of playing the song.
The main advantage of this cost-effective spring-loaded capo is, you can easily clamp or unclamp it using just 1 hand. The only con side of this capo is, it doesn’t allow users to adjust the pressure applied on the strings.
Trigger Style Capos
A trigger-style capo consists of two bars where the first bar is covered using rubber that sits directly on top of the strings. The second bar presses against the back of the guitar. In most cases, the second bar that presses against the back to the stringed instrument is made according to the shape of the stringed instrument’s neck.
In this type of capo, a pivot attaches both the bars, and a spring is used to press these two bars close together. The grip that is found on each bar allows the musician to quickly and easily change the tension of this device. This grip also allows the musician to release the capo completely.
Due to this reason the trigger style capos are often known as “quick-release capos.”
Strap On Capos
As the name suggests, these type of capos are made up of a rubbered bar and a strap. To use it one must place the rubbered bar on the top of the strings and wrap the strap on the back of the fretboard.
The strap ensures that the bar is held tightly against the neck, which in turn ensures that the bar stays in place while being used.
I personally don’t recommend these capos as they take a lot of time in clamping and unclamping.
A toggle capo is lightweight compared to other capos and uses a notched mechanism for tightening the capo onto the guitar strings. Toggle capos are cost effective and easy to use. Although the compact size doesn’t impede one’s fretting hand, its tightening mechanism does have the tendency to pull the guitar’s strings out of tune.
Other Types Of Capos
These capos look a lot like a C-clamp and the tightness of the device can be adjusted with the help of a single screw.
As the name suggests roller capos are created using rollers on both the neck of the device along with the string side of the device. The primary advantage of such capos is that they allow the musician to quickly change the keys in the middle of tunes, which can be helpful for musicians playing Irish themed tunes.
Another alternate type of guitar capo available these days is known as the partial capo which is commonly used to fret certain selected strings of the guitar.
Which Guitar Capo is Best?
Compared to other capos, the spring-loaded and trigger style capos are the best. The main advantage of these capos is they can be clamped or unclamped using only 1 hand and they are very user friendly.
There are various models available of spring-loaded/trigger-style capos in the market. We always recommend going for one that is well built ( material wise ) and allow users to adjust the pressure exerted on the strings.
They can be a little expensive than the regular ones but they are highly durable and instrument friendly. A cheap capo will surely do the job but it may not last for a long time and can do damage to the fretboard.
How Much Does A Guitar Capo Cost?
A guitar capo can cost as little as $5 and can also cost as much as $50. The brand, material, and additional features determine the value and price of this device.
The capos that allow players to adjust the tension and pressure cost a little more than the regular ones. When planning to buy a guitar capo one must keep in mind to check the build quality and the brand.
Should My First Capo Be Expensive?
No, your first capo does not have to be a top of the line product especially if you are playing a 6 string acoustic guitar. However, your first capo should be strong enough and should not apply too much pressure while clamping down the strings as this would cause your guitar to instantly go out of tune.
Is a Guitar Capo Necessary?
I personally don’t think a guitar capo is necessary but it can make your guitar playing more fun and interesting in many ways.
- If you often feel hard to play the barre chords then you can simply clip the capo and play it in an open position chord.
- You can use them in gigs and shows to make chords playing easier
- You can use them in practice sessions, jamming, and recordings to get different variations from a single chord. For example, if one guitarist is playing a C minor bar chord then the other guitarist can play the capo version of it.
It is always handy to keep a guitar capo in the gig bag because you never know what shows up.
Common Guitar Capo Issues
Guitar Fret Buzz
This issue is often faced by first-time capo users. To fix it, check the placement of the capo on the neck. Make sure it is not touching the fret wires which causes string buzz. Always clamp the capo on the middle of the two fret wires.
Guitar Out Of Tune with a Capo
This issue arises when the pressure exerted by the capo on the strings is much higher. If you are using a spring-loaded or trigger style capo then make sure to check its placement on the neck. If using an adjustable one then try to reduce the tension of it. This will fix this issue.