We at Authority Guitar can give you the knowledge to help find the best capo for your situation.
It’s an essential piece of equipment for the cover band musician. It breathes new life into songwriting. You may need a guitar capo to assist you in becoming a more rounded guitarist.
There are many to choose from, as they have different functions. I’ve personally owned every one of the following capos, and my overall winner is the Kyser Quick-Change Capo.
I’ve compiled a list that will cover all of your capo scenarios. Read on:
The Different Types Of Guitar Capo?
Although capos all do the same thing, there are different types you need to consider. Here is a brief explanation of the most popular:
An adjustable strap clips into an indentation for a solid grip. Easily unclipped and adjustable.
Spring Loaded Clamp (Quick-Release)
Simple and effective. Squeeze the clamp so it opens up the jaws and place it at the desired fret. On releasing the tension, the capo grips all the strings and the rear of the neck.
Adjustable Screw/Lever (Quick Release)
The adjustable screw at the rear of the neck helps distribute even pressure across the strings. You then close the lever and the strings should be gently pushed onto the fretboard. This is like manual control, which you may need to slightly adjust if you’re moving higher up the neck.
These capos stay on your guitar neck when you’re not using them. They can be removed, but nowhere as fast as the ‘quick release’ capo designs. The adjustable tension knob on the back of the capo ensures the capo is tight and the strings have even pressure.
It does exactly what it says on the box! The capo is eased up and down the fretboard via a roller type wheel on the rear of the neck. The further up the neck you go, the capo tightens via two springs on either side. Rolls over the nut when not in use or you can clip it off the neck completely.
My favorite guitar capo was the Kyser Quick-Change Capo for 6-string
Quick View: 6 Best Capos
- WINGO Guitar Capo for Acoustic and Electric Guitar with 5 Picks
- Shubb C1B Brass Capo for Steel String Guitars
- Kyser Quick-Change Capo for 6-string
- WINGO Wide Guitar Capo Fit for 6 and 12 String.
- G7th Performance 3 Capo with ART
- Nordic Essentials™Guitar Capo (2 Pack) for Guitars, 6 & 12 String Instruments
What Do Capos Do?
A guitar capo is a simple gadget, it clamps to your guitar strings and around the back of the neck.
It eliminates having to use difficult barre chords. It raises the pitch of the instrument by shortening the string length.
The nut on your guitar is doing exactly the same thing (but it doesn’t move!).
They come in various shapes and sizes, usually, you’ll see one on an acoustic or electric guitar. The ukulele, banjo, mandolin, and 12 string acoustic guitar also have capos designed for them.
Capos are great for creating a fuller, all-round sound.
For example, two acoustic guitars can play the same chords, but one guitar is using a capo further up the guitar’s neck, creating higher voicings. Together they create a much nicer texture in sound.
How Much Should I Spend On A Capo?
That all depends on what you need it for. Are you a performing guitarist? A tutor? or maybe a home player?
It’s important to consider what instrument you need a capo for (guitar, ukulele, or mandolin?). What is the best guitar capo for you?
Let’s have a look at a few ideas that fit your budget.
Budget Guitar Capo
There are plenty of cheaper capos available on the market. Budget capos are absolutely fine for the home player. Although, I wouldn’t want to put a cheaper capo onto an expensive instrument (it may damage it).
The ‘toggle strap’ is very sturdy and does the job to a certain extent. The downside to straps is; they can slip out of place. Any movement in a capo whilst playing can end up with dead notes.
If a capo is clamped on too tight, the guitar will go out of tune. The budget capos won’t be universal, so they won’t work on other instruments as well as they do on a guitar.
With all this in mind, they are still a good choice for the home player, without a doubt.
Mid Priced Guitar Capo
Within the mid price range, capos are further enhanced and longer lasting.
‘Quick release’ capos allow a live musician to adjust the fret position without any fuss. The ‘spring loaded clamp‘ are exceptional around the mid price range.
The ‘lever type’ models are also fantastic, they can be used efficiently on other fretted instruments.
So, if you’re looking for a multi-instrument capo, then the ‘adjustable control knob/lever’ models are for you. These allow you to decide how much pressure is required for string tension.
Top End Guitar Capo
The newest capos on the market are a cut above the rest for a reason. They’re engineered to a high standard, using only high-quality materials. The new industry standard uses adaptive radius technology.
This adjusts the capo to the shape of the fretboard. Extraordinarily efficient considering there are so many neck shapes and sizes. The mechanics of this capo applies even pressure across all strings.
This maintains stable tuning far better than any other capo has done previously. This type of capo is a must for a serious musician. The capo works with steel-string acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and hybrid nylon guitars.
Authority Guitar, 6 Best Capos Review
- Pros: Superb Wood Grain Finish. Comes with 5 Plectrums. Great Value For Money. Easy To Use. Good For Kids/Seniors
- Cons: Not Ideal For *Ukulele As Advertised. The Wood Finish Can Look Cheap After A While.
There are a huge number of brands available in the ‘spring-loaded’ capo department.
The Wingo budget version is definitely among the best. Firstly, it serves as a multi-purpose capo, covering 6 string acoustic, electric, bass, and *ukulele.
A beautiful premium wood grain design. Made of lightweight aircraft-grade zinc alloy metal with rosewood plated finish. Unlike 90% of capos, these are quite nice to look at. It supports a high-quality rubber cushion pad to ensure you don’t damage your guitar.
Although a lower budget choice, this doesn’t mean it’s built from cheap and nasty products. It’s sturdy and long-lasting, unlike most of the competition at this price.
Wingo also has a range of other quality capos and a rosewood design in this model. A good starter capo for sure.
- Pros: Fits Many Guitars. Good For Kids/Seniors. Manual Adjustment Screw. A Whole Range Of Capos For Different Fretted Instruments. Built To Last, Various Style Capo To Choose From
- Cons: Not Great If You Need To Change Frets Quickly in a Live Situation. Rubber Grips Do Come Off After A lot Of Use
The Shubb C1 is a capo I started out with many years ago. They are still selling large amounts to this day, this tells you what a reliable product it is.
I like the adjustable screw capos, as you can use them on so many guitars. Shubb C1 has designed this range based on the human hand shape when barring chords.
There is a range of different capos in this style, the other models accommodate a classical guitar, DADGAD tuning, 12 String guitars, and banjo capos.
If you’re looking for a capo for any of these options, follow the link below above and choose as required.
It has a patented over-center locking action that ensures smooth operation and unrivaled ease of use. Made of plain, non-plated brass for a vintage, rustic-like appearance and stainless steel.
A very tough, versatile capo with a 40-year history.
- Pros: Amazing Colour Choice. Huge 5 Star Seller. Affordable. Long-Lasting
- Cons: A Bit Ugly Looking. You Haven’t Got One Yet!
The Kyser quick change capo is my go-to capo when playing in a live band. I’ve had 2 in 25 years of playing. Extremely reliable and tough as nails. Works perfectly on acoustic and electric guitars. American made, the strong body consists of tank armor,…..just joking, the body is made from heavy-duty aluminum. I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone breaking a Kyser capo! The spring is strong and lasts for years. Kyser also sells a low tension version for those who may have lighter strings or a classical instrument. Comes in a choice of 22 colours. If your budget is around the mid-range, this is your next capo.
- Pros: Best Versatile Capo. Sleek Look. Customer Support And Warranty. Heavy Duty Build Quality, Yet Light In Weight. Good For Kids/Seniors, Adjustable Tension
- Cons: Not Good For Quickly Changing Frets. Knob May Break After A lot Of Use Over Time
As the headline states, The Wingo wide capo is great for more than just the guitar. This is due to the length of the capo’s arms.
There are two sizes, the shorter size (57mm) covers you to play on the electric guitar, acoustic, 12 string guitar, ukulele, bass, banjo, and mandolin. The longer side (61mm) enables you to use this capo on a classical guitar.
It’s totally interchangeable as both pads are made from silicon rubber, so just turn the capo around to suit whatever instrument you’re playing. Large adjustable knurled adjustable tension knob for precise control of tightness.
Once again, you are in control of the amount of pressure you put onto the strings. Just loosen or tighten the capo by twisting the knob, and you’re good to go.
Lightweight zinc-alloy body with a super smooth finish. Unlike the rest of the capos on the market, the Wingo supports any guitar.
- Pros: ADP Technology. Free Lifetime Warranty. Applies The Correct Amount Of Tension Adjustment. Great If You Have A Bunch Of Guitars.
- Cons: Cumbersome. Takes Practice To Apply The Correct Pressure.
G7th is a company that’s revolutionized the guitar capo with its Adaptive Radius Technology. This gives the user maximum tuning stability by mechanically matching the curvature over the strings in any position, on any guitar neck (steel-string, acoustic and electric guitar, or hybrid nylon). Don’t let the mechanical side of this capo scare you off, it’s so easy to use.
Designed for one-handed use, in any sized hands. With a little practice it’s nearly as quick to move between frets as a spring capo, but without the need for frequent retuning. Such a handy tool to have if you have a range of guitars that are all very different in size. The G7th Performance 3 is the most expensive capo on the market today, but you’re paying for the high standard of engineering. This is the future of the capo.
- Pros: 2 Capos And Carry Pouches At A Great Price. Covers A Wide Range Of Instruments. Quick Release Spring Loaded Capo. Sturdy Build. Capos available in various colors
- Cons: Won’t Last As Long As The Similar Price Competitors.
I had to add another spring loaded capo to the review, as they work so efficiently.
Nordic essentials also make another capo at a similar price, but I went for this deal as you get two and they both do the same thing (in my opinion).
An extremely popular choice among buyers, the lightweight build (Weight: 1.2oz) allows all ages to attach the capo quickly onto your guitar.
The Nordic capo would be another great choice for live musicians out there, and who doesn’t need a spare?
Very durable, made of aircraft-grade aluminum, so it can handle anything you throw at it. Easy to use, hardcore build quality, and a great deal all round.
What is ‘Adaptive Radius Technology‘, And Do I Need It?
Adaptive Radius Technology is a process where the capo adapts to any guitar fretboard shape. The mechanism under the rubber pad slides and adjusts to the shape of the guitar. The grip of the capo is defined by how much pressure you squeeze the capo with. Once finished, you simply squeeze the release lever, this allows you to take the capo off or move it. This can be done in a very quick and easy fashion. Impressive stuff.
For years guitar capos have had a fixed radius. So the curvature of the pad is forced onto the strings.
In most cases, the pressure applied to the fretboard is either not enough or too much.
This can cause the notes to buzz or get dragged slightly out of tune (fret buzz). If you’re playing live, this is simply hideous. Adaptive Radius Technology defeats this issue.
The Advantages/Disadvantages Of Using a Capo
- Cover songs sound authentic
- Add a certain mood or contrast by playing chord shapes higher up on the fretboard. Something you wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise
- Adds lovely harmonies to a second guitar which is being played in open tuning
- Capos are a great help when playing in challenging keys (like eflat or bflat). If you’re jamming with a saxophone or piano, just clip your capo on and away you go
- Using a capo is like an alternative tuning
- Playing the capo very high can achieve a mandolin type sound
- Major benefits for the singing/guitar player: Playing something technical on guitar and singing at the same time can be a challenge. A capo is the answer.
Not So Good
- Whilst your guitar is tuned perfectly before you use a capo, attaching it can throw your guitar out of tune. If you were to re-tune the guitar with the capo on, it then tends to put open tuning out. The answer to this is: buy a decent capo.
- Old strings on a guitar are never a good thing for tuning. If you add a capo to old dying strings the capo will expose this even more so. Tuning problems are enough to make you want to quit. Change your strings people! Your guitar deserves it.
Here’s a helpful video on ‘how to use a capo’
Things To Consider Before Buying
- Consider what instrument you are buying a capo for. Some capos don’t work well on ukuleles for example. Some Capo’s work on all stringed instruments
- Flat Profile Capos are for classical guitars. Curved Capos are for acoustic guitar and electric. Standard clamp-type capos are fine with mandolin or uke.
- Are you going to need a quick release for live shows?
- You’re going to need a decent tuner. A tuner and capo work together.
- Children and seniors may have issues with the tight spring type capos.
Best Guitar Capos Winner:
In times where shoppers love to buy the newest technology, I sometimes feel massive companies aren’t making certain products any better.
Although we have new technology with the G7th performance adaptive radius control. I still don’t think the product fulfills the needs like the Kyser Quick-Change has accomplished for 40 years.
The Kyser capo is very unlikely to break. That in itself is worth its weight in gold. Kyser now has a low tension version for those who may have lighter strings or a classical instrument. There you have two solid capos that cover a lot of instruments.
Durability is guaranteed. What more would you need? From my own personal experience, there is no better capo than Kyser.