Capos are great for playing typical first position/open chords further up the guitar's neck which then makes the chords sound in different keys. By placing the capo up the neck - let’s say on 3rd fret, it allows you to play, say, a G chord at the fifth fret, which changes the key to A. It’s just a very fool-proof way for multiple guitarists to come up with a more versatile tone when playing guitars for a track together. Similarly, when you’re recording, you need tonal diversity, and utilizing capos is excellent for creating that stereo width. Capos come in different styles, from clamp-on to flip the lever and tighten in place and more! Everyone has their own preference, but musicians everywhere agree that capos are an essential part of music-making. Two important factors though; make sure the capo covers the fretboard radius on your guitar properly and make sure you don't clamp or tighten so much that your guitar goes out of tune. Bringing you the finest guitar capos for 2022, as well as a detailed buyer’s guide to help you choose the best!
A guitar capo is cool - it lets you achieve a couple of playing tactics flawlessly and without any hassle. To a layman, it’s a weird-looking clip that sits on the guitar. To musicians, it’s much more than that. If you’ve never bought a capo before or have only owned capos that buzz, scour through our list above and check out this buyer’s guide so you know what to look for when buying one.
Why Should I Buy a Guitar Capo?
While not everybody uses a capo and it’s certainly not an essential gadget, there are a couple of benefits of using a guitar capo. Here are three of the top:
Ease of playing for new guitarists
If you’ve recently started playing guitar and you haven’t yet built a grip on barre chords and power chords - an excellent solution for you to get a decent tone and be able to play different chords is using a capo.
Even if you only need to play the open chords, you can do so in a higher key with a capo on - it’ll lower the action and help you easily press the strings to the fretboard.
When you’re recording guitars in the studio or multiple guitarists are playing live, it’s usually ideal to play different versions of the same chords - so you can get a diverse sound and there are no conflicting frequencies.
Doing this is fairly easy by going up the fingerboard and hitting the required notes by utilizing a capo.
Changing key without the theoretical homework
Sometimes, when you’re playing live, you feel the need to play in a higher key. Instead of playing your complex barre chords, just take the capo up some frets and get it done, within a blink!
Different Types of Guitar Capos
We’ve reviewed most of these capos above in our list. Here’s a slightly detailed overview of what they really are:
These capos have a simple design with nothing more than an elastic strap. Simple to use but they have a tendency to slip.
This type of capo has a screw that is manually rotated to put pressure on the strings. This type of capo is usually the best in terms of not causing buzz but it has a tendency to cause detuning.
The spring-loaded capos are usually the best ones! They don’t cause buzzing, are simple to use and don’t put too much pressure on the strings as to cause intonation problems.
These capos have a lever or a latch that can be adjusted to tighten the strings. They’re also small, simple, and compact and usually serve just as well as spring-loaded capos!
What to Consider Before Buying a Guitar Capo?
If you’ve been a victim of a poor capo, here’s what you need to do:
Curved or flat fingerboard
You need to ensure if you have a straight fingerboard or a curved one - if it’s a curved one, you’ll need a capo which has back support for the curved neck otherwise you’ll just be ringing pots with crippling corrosion.
Ease of use
By ease of use - we mean the ease of taking the capo on and off. If you have to worry about breaking your strings every time you take the capo off, it’s probably not the best choice. Make sure that you’re buying a capo that is breezy to put on and take off.
If you’ve got a guitar with fairly high action, you’ll need a capo powerful enough to put all the strings against the neck. The normal guitars with a standard action and usual capos will do the job easily, however, you may want to look out for the pressure thing in case you have a stubborn guitar with a cruel action.
Some capos can be attached to the headstock when they’re not in use. You may look for a similar one so it’s easier for you to not lose the capo!
How to Adjust the Guitar Capo to Avoid Buzzing?
If you’ve got a spring-loaded capo, you can simply put it on at the very end of the fret - the tension at that point is usually the lowest on the fret and it helps you avoid buzzing or putting the capo on too tight.
Capo For Steel String FAQ
Q: Does using a guitar capo limit my learning capability?
A: Look, if you’ve just started playing guitar - it’s best that you find a good balance of playing without the capo and playing with a capo on. What it’ll do is keep your fingers used to putting good amounts of pressure for building up the strength for playing barre chords, won’t keep you limited to low-action guitars, and help you learn faster.
Q: Are capos necessary?
A: Capos are never necessary - it’s just good to have them by your side in case you’re feeling the blues and want to have some high-key tonal diversity at hand.
Jack has been a touring guitarist for almost 20 years, playing in a number of country music and rock bands. Jack loves the road and defines himself as a never-ending student of the guitar and other important instruments or tools that make a musician.