The 10 Best Capos

Updated May 16, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Capos
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 35 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. These capos can raise the pitch of a fretted instrument so musicians can play in a different key using the same fingerings as playing open. They accomplish this by shortening the length of all the strings, essentially creating a new nut. Performers commonly place them on guitars, banjos, and mandolins to add a bit more versatility to their style. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best capo on Amazon.

10. Mugig Shark

The Mugig Shark is a great novelty item for any parent whose child is learning how to play the guitar. Despite the aggressive look, its teeth won't leave a scratch while skimming the fret board, thanks, in large part, to its soft silicone jaws.
  • bright gold color
  • super cool style
  • dorsal fin may prick fingers
Brand Mugig
Model GC-3
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Rinastore Six-String

The Rinastore Six-String features a wood-gloss finish that is meant to match the head stack of any acoustic guitar. It enables a sharp pitch, free of interference, but it can be easily damaged and should be stored inside a case or better still, in a compartment of its own.
  • also available in black
  • simple elegant design
  • not actually made out of wood
Brand Rinastore
Model C-148
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Donner DC-2

The Donner DC-2 is easy to move without scratching anything and features a sturdy steel spring that provides just the right amount of pressure to accomplish the job without accidentally stretching strings after long periods of constant use.
  • musical note emblem
  • lightweight yet durable
  • too small for large hands
Brand Donner
Model Donner-EC816
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Shubb Deluxe

You won't encounter any durability issues with this stainless steel Shubb Deluxe. This model's lock is superb for playing consecutive songs in the same pitch, or for ensuring the front brace doesn't come apart whenever your fingers are moving between chords.
  • soft rubber replicates a human hand
  • simple set and forget use
  • not made for sliding along the neck
Brand Shubb
Model GC-30
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

6. Nordic Essentials

Coming with two models for right around the same price as most other brands charge for just one, the Nordic Essentials is a great value, especially considering that they offer a similar build quality to the pricier options and come with a lifetime warranty.
  • allow for one-handed repositioning
  • include two carrying pouches
  • can be used on 12-string instruments
Brand Nordic Essentials
Model FBA_GuitarCapo_BlackSil
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Crave Tone Premium

Studio musicians will be able to get a lot of use out of the Crave Tone Premium, particularly given that it can be attached not only to guitars, but also dobros, ukuleles, banjos, and more. This model comes with a peg puller to make changing strings a simple task.
  • won't mark the fretboard
  • comfortably curved hand grip
  • rose gold or tungsten finish
Brand Crave Tone Capo
Model SG1-RG
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

4. Kliq K-PO

The Kliq K-PO is designed for fast and convenient changes along the fretboard. Its clip is calibrated to apply equal pressure without affecting any tunings, and it is equally comfortable sitting on six-string acoustic and electric guitars.
  • fully hand-assembled
  • long-lasting zinc alloy construction
  • comes with a metal storage case
Brand KLIQ Music Gear
Model K-PO-BC
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. xGuitarx X3

If you're a performer, the xGuitarx X3 provides an all-in-one resource for adjusting pitch on a variety of stringed instruments, while also eliminating the resonant buzz that accompanies strumming chords after applying a poorly-made clasp.
  • pops on and off within seconds
  • adjusts to any neck
  • weighs less than one ounce
Brand xGuitarx
Model BCG332425
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. UGY High-Performance

Its hard to beat the UGY High-Performance when it comes to value. It is suitable for both acoustic and electric instruments, and works just as well on a ukulele as on a guitar. Its strong spring keeps it firmly in place through even the most intense performances.
  • silicone pad to prevent scratches
  • eliminates fret buzz completely
  • allows for quick on-stage changes
Brand UGY
Model UGY
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Kyser Quick Change

A lot of professionals gravitate towards the Kyser Quick Change for its ease of use. It requires only one hand to maneuver, and it's compact enough that you can store it in your pocket. Plus, it won't pull on strings or put stress upon the pegs.
  • over 20 colors to choose from
  • backed by a lifetime guarantee
  • can be stored on the headstock
Brand Kyser
Model KG6B
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

How Does A Capo Work?

One of the most common guitar accessories, a capo is a clamp-like device that raises the pitch of a guitar’s strings. The device, which is pronounced with a long “a” sound like "cape-oh," works by applying pressure to all of the strings evenly at the fret on which the user places it. This effectively makes a new nut, although technically the capo must work in addition to the existing nut, since the former doesn’t have grooves for the strings as does the latter.

The pitch sounded by each string, once shortened by the capo, becomes higher by a half a step for each fret. So, if you place the capo at the first fret, the E of the first and sixth strings in standard tuning becomes an F, which is the note that’s one half step (also called semitone) higher. You could achieve this same type of change by turning the guitar’s pegs to manually change each string’s pitch, a process commonly called tuning up or tuning down. A capo, however, gives results much faster and with less hassle.

The handy capo offers guitarist several specific benefits. For one, thanks to a shorter string length, the guitar will sound brighter, perhaps giving a sound more like a mandolin. For another, a capo makes it easy for a guitarist to quickly change the key of a song to suit a singer’s vocal range. Playing around with a capo can be fun, too, as it’s a great tool for experimentation.

Perhaps one of the more prominent reasons guitarists pick up a capo, though, is to make playing in difficult keys a little bit easier. For example, many newer guitarists struggle with barre chords, which require pressing down multiple strings with one finger in a bar position, as opposed to open chords, where a finger only has to press one string at a time. Without getting too technical, a capo allows a guitarist to use open chord shapes to play in keys that would require a barre chord on a capo-less guitar. That’s because even though the capo raises the pitch of the strings, the pitches do not change relative to one another. Thus, open chord shapes still produce chords, just in a different key.

Tips For Capo Use

A capo is a simple device, as it’s little more than a clamp or elastic strap with some padding, usually rubber, that provides pressure to the guitar strings. Although it seems simple enough to use, following a few dos and don’ts will make your time more productive and help you protect your valuable instrument.

First, for the best results, you’ll want to tune your guitar before you put the capo on and after you remove it. Even if you’re gentle, it’s possible, even probable, that you’ll change the strings’ tension when adjusting the capo. Be sure you don’t slide a standard capo up and down the fret over the strings; always gently unclamp it, then slide it or move it. If your guitar is in tune before you add the capo, and it goes out once the capo is on, check and see whether you’ve inadvertently pushed the strings sideways. Even the smallest amount can make a difference.

Second, make sure that you’re placing the capo in the right place, which will help eliminate tuning issues. Most guitar teachers and experts agree that the best position for the capo is directly behind the fret, not on top of it or midway between two frets. Essentially, the capo will mimic good finger position; you wouldn’t barre on top of a fret, for instance, so you shouldn’t do so with a capo, either.

Next, remove the capo when you finish playing. Leaving the capo on the strings for extended periods of time could bend your strings or reduce a fret’s lifespan. If you’re afraid you’ll lose the capo, you can clip it on the headstock so it’s easily available when you’re ready to play.

Finally, and it should hopefully go without saying, make sure that the capo is clean and in good condition. Time can cause gunk to build up on the rubber padded part that rests on the strings, as can ample use. Using a dirty or cracked capo could hurt your guitar’s neck or strings, however, and you’ll end up with more trouble in the long run than you’d have by simply replacing it.

A Brief History Of The Capo

Although most historians agree that various capo devices were available as early as the 1600s, the first capo as we know it was patented in 1850 by James Ashborn. Born in England, Ashborn emigrated to the United States in the 1830s and set up a guitar-making shop. By all accounts, this shop was successful, probably due to both the large amount of guitars he was able to produce, as well as his innovative designs. His instruments were always of excellent quality and receive high regard, even today.

That first capo patent paved the way for many others — over 130 to date, in fact. One of the most important patents was granted in 1931 to W.H. Russel. This was the elastic capo, a model that guitar players still enjoy today. A second significant change to the capo market happened in the 1970s, when the Shubb side-clamp screw-adjustable capo became available. These were a big success, and Shubb remains one of the top choices for capos.

Capos have continued to change and evolve since the 1970s. There are glider capos that can roll up and down the fret board, novelty capos shaped like animals, clamp capos, deluxe capos, quick-change capos, and more. One type that’s receiving more and more attention is the partial capo, which lets the user shorten only three, four, or five strings, instead of all six. These let users explore a whole host of alternate tunings or adjust the tuning without entirely losing the fuller sound of un-shortened strings.

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Last updated on May 16, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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