Best Guitar Capo

Guitar Capo
Guitar Capo

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A capo is a clamp-like device used on the guitar’s neck to shorten the strings and thus raise the pitch. Capos typically have a rubber-covered bar that clamps over the fretboard in a variety of ways:

  • Elastic band
  • Spring clamp
  • Screw clamp
  • Cam-operated metal clamp

Guitar Capos and Beginners

Beginners often use a capo to play a song in several different keys, without having to learn new chords. But, that’s not the only reason to use a capo.

With a capo in place, the timbre of the strings changes as the scale length is shortened. This will affect the sound, suggesting the tone of short-scaled stringed instruments such as the mandolin. So using a capo is not just a technical expediency, it’s also a tool for artistic expression. Legendary blues guitarist Albert Collins regularly plays his Fender Telecaster capo’ed, like on this version of “Ice Man.”

Do You Need a Guitar Capo?

Third Hand guitar capo
Third Hand guitar capo

The style of music you’re playing will determine whether you’ll want a capo. Styles such as flamenco, Irish traditional music, British and American folk music make extensive use of the capo. You’ll rarely see a capo used in classical and jazz. Rock and roll guitar players influenced by folk and blues regularly use capos. Such rockers include Richard Thompson, Ry Cooder, Steve Earle, George Harrison, Noel Gallagher.

New trends in guitar capo design include mini capos, that will clamp one, two, or three strings. Another type of “variable capo” has been around for awhile but is lately becoming popular as a “third hand” capo. This device allows you to select which strings you want capo’ed, and which ones you want open. This allows guitar players to set up special tunings such as DADGBE tuning.