The 9 Best Guitar Capos (2020 Ultimate Guide)

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Here Are Some of the Best Guitar Capos Out There!

Searching for the best guitar capo on the market right now? You’re not alone! A capo is a great little piece of equipment that we’d consider a must-have in any gig bag. From changing the guitar pitch so you can sing along comfortably to just playing with different notes, a capo can make playing much more fun. Luckily, there are loads of great guitar capos out there – like the Kyser Quick-Change.

That said, not all capos work for all guitars. Turns out, to buy the perfect capo for you, you need to understand your guitar and a bit of capo-related knowledge. There are lots of different types of capos – made of different components – that work in different ways. And trust me, shopping for the best capos can get a little complicated – but it doesn’t have to be.

This is where we come in. Our detailed guide on the best capos covers questions like what is a capo and what is a capo used for. It also weighs the pros and cons of the top guitar capos for sale right now. Furthermore, we cover specifically what to look for in the best capo for acoustic guitars, the best capo for electric guitars, classical guitar capos, and even 12-string capos!

The Top 9 Best Guitar Capos

If you just want to get started and have a look, below are our top three capos listed in this article. We’ve chosen them based on a combination of personal experience, a wide range of reviews, and overall versatility, function, and durability. They’d all make for great guitar accessories!

Kyzer Quick-Change
Shubb C1K Black
G7th Performance 3 Capo
Kyser Quick-Change Capo for 6-string acoustic guitars, Black, KG6B
Shubb C1K (Capo Noir) Black Chrome Capo for Steel String Guitars
G7th Performance 3 Capo with ART (Steel String Silver)
Kyzer Quick-Change
Kyser Quick-Change Capo for 6-string acoustic guitars, Black, KG6B
Shubb C1K Black
Shubb C1K (Capo Noir) Black Chrome Capo for Steel String Guitars
G7th Performance 3 Capo
G7th Performance 3 Capo with ART (Steel String Silver)

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 15:21

Below is a more detailed breakdown of the top guitar capos. Many differ by style, which type of guitar they are made for, and price, so have a read through to find the right one for you.

Kyser Quick-Change Capo

Sale
Kyser Quick-Change Capo for 6-string acoustic guitars, Black, KG6B
  • The original one-handed Quick-Change capo
  • Strong, lightweight aluminum with steel spring

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 15:21

  • Features: Simple trigger/spring design, easy to use, many colors available, good for an acoustic guitar with steel strings
  • Pros: Very fast to change the capo from position to position, stores on the headstock easily
  • Cons: Tension is not adjustable for your specific instrument

Shubb C1K Black

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 15:21

  • Features: Sleek design, easy tightening, quick release lever
  • Pros: Adjustable tension for most string types on many guitars
  • Cons: Doesn’t necessarily fit all neck widths on different guitars (like a classical guitar), doesn’t easily store on the guitar headstock

G7th Performance 3 Capo

G7th Performance 3 Capo with ART (Steel String Silver)
  • Adaptive Radius Technology - gives you maximum tuning stability by mechanically matching the curvature over the strings in ANY position, on ANY guitar neck (steel string...
  • Unique Tension Control - By simply squeezing to attach and squeezing to release, the Performance 3 capo gives you complete and intuitive control over the pressure you place on...

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 15:21

  • Features: Sleek design, squeeze-style tension
  • Pros: Tension is perfectly adjustable for your strings/guitar, stores on the headstock
  • Cons: Not enough tension for a 12-string guitar (also doesn’t fit the neck width)

Paige Original 6-String Capo

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Paige Original 6-String Acoustic Capo
  • Controlled tension; no buzz or string muting
  • Moves quickly and easily; stores behind the nut; made in the USA

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 15:21

  • Features: C-clamp design, simple thumbscrew, quick release
  • Pros: Made for quicker changes, able to apply the right amount of tension
  • Cons: Not as fast to move as a trigger-style capo

Donner DC-2 Guitar Capo

Donner DC-2 Guitar Capo for Acoustic and Electric Guitar,Ukulele Capo Black
  • Professional capo built to last - built of lightweight high quality zinc alloy (aircraft grade metal).
  • Easy to move - fits perfectly electric and acoustic guitars, ukulele banjo, folk guitars and mandolin, and so on.

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 15:21

  • Features: Easy-to-use spring design, significant silicone padding to help prevent stretches
  • Pros: Versatility – works with many different stringed instruments
  • Cons: Tension is not totally adjustable for strings/instrument type

TANMUS 3-in-1 Capo

Sale
Guitar Capo,TANMUS 3in1 Zinc Metal Capo for Acoustic and Electric Guitars (with Pick Holder and...
  • CREATIVE 3IN1:Includes compact capo& guitar pin puller,designed for easier playing.The clip top carry 360°clamping pick holder, won't shake off
  • SIMPLE TO USE: 2.1oz lightweight balance design, Not too heavy or too light , Avoid the feeling of draping sensation when in fast move

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 15:21

  • Features: 3-uses-in-1: Guitar capo, Pick holder, also a pin puller tool
  • Pros: Quick and easy to move/store, used on various stringed instruments
  • Cons: Again, not able to completely control the tension on the strings and neck

WINGO Pro Guitar Capo

WINGO Pro Guitar Capo for Acoustic Electric Guitars - Chrome Capotraste
  • Professional ----Designed for acoustic and electric guitar,banjos ,ukulele,bass with curved rubber. (not classical)
  • Perfect Tension----Knurled tension knob for precise control of tension。

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 15:21

  • Features: Knob for easy and precision tension adjusting
  • Pros: Sleek design, adjustable tension, easy to store on headstock behind the nut
  • Cons: Slower to change, not suitable for classical guitars with flat fingerboard

Nordic Essentials Guitar Capo

Nordic Essentials Guitar Capo Deluxe with Carrying Pouch - Brushed Metallic Bronze
  • Guitar Capo Deluxe from Nordic Essentials™ - Premium Capos for Acoustic, Electric & Classical Guitar, Ukulele, Bass, Banjo & Mandolin
  • Quickly and Easily Releases and Repositions With One Hand Without Disturbing Tuning

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 15:21

  • Features: Simple design, strong metal body, firm steel spring
  • Pros: Easy to use/change, useful for different instruments, comes with carrying bag
  • Cons: Tension is not adjustable for specific guitar types

D’Addario/Planet Waves NS 12-String Capo

D'Addario Classical Guitar Capo, Black
  • Made of Ultra-Light Aerospace Grade Aluminum
  • One Hand Operation

Last update on 2020-12-01 at 15:21

  • Features: Versatility, works specifically well with classical guitars
  • Pros: Flat rubber surface works with many guitars, small design
  • Cons: Not enough tension for heavy string gauge and/or 12-string guitars

What Is A Guitar Capo And Why You Need One

So, what is a capo? What does a capo do? Why do I need a capo for guitar? For those of you wondering what a capo does with the intent on buying one, here’s a brief capo and music lesson.

A capo is a small device that creates tension on the strings of an instrument. By putting tension on the string using pressure, a capo makes the pitch of a guitar higher. In music, another term for this is that you are “changing the key” of the guitar. Basically, a capo makes the guitar/instrument sound higher.

Capos are used by many artists in all different genres and on a number of different stringed instruments – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, ukulele, etc. So if you want the ability to learn to play a number of different songs, you should definitely purchase a capo.

Capos can also be very inexpensive so it’s not a huge investment. However, there are some more expensive capos which can last longer (and work better for specific instruments) so keep that in mind when buying one. We’ve outlined those kinds of price/usability factors on the featured capos above.

A final note about capos: By nature, a capo will bring your instrument’s tuning a little to the sharp side since you are creating excess tension in the strings. It’s also important to not leave a capo on the strings. The added tension can stretch the strings and ruin the rubber padding in the capo (more on what below).

The Different Types of Guitar Capos

As we just mentioned – and as you may have seen above – there are a number of different types of capos you can buy. Capos differ from one another in three main ways: what they are made of, how they work, and what instrument they are primarily used for.

Below we’ll outline the different styles of capos, explain each one in detail, and list the pros and cons for each style/type. Just so you know, there are a few different names for different styles or classes of capo. The name isn’t all that important as long as you understand the functionality of the capo and whether it will work for your guitar!

Note: While some of these guitar capos can be used on a ukulele, we’re going to cover the best capos for ukuleles in a different, more detailed article!

Trigger/Spring Capos

Trigger or “spring”-style capos are among the most popular type of capo. They clamp down onto the strings against the fretboard and the neck via tension created from a spring mechanism.

Trigger style capos require one hand to operate as you squeeze to open the capo and release to close the capo. The two prongs that you squeeze are under tension by a metal spring or metallic coil which is under tension. The parts that contact the back of the neck and the strings have rubber padding. A classic example of a trigger capo is the Kyser Quick-Change.

Pros of a Trigger-Style Capo

  • By far the biggest advantage of the trigger-style capo is the speed at which you can apply and remove it. It takes less than a second to do either. This is good if you are fiddling around with songs and tunings, or if you are performing live and need to be able to change the capo between songs quickly.
  • Another pro to this style of capo is that they store easily when not in use. Some guitarists dislike this – but you can clamp the capo on the headstock for easy access.
  • Versatility – trigger-style capos generally work with lots of different instruments, neck shapes, and string types and gauges. If you suddenly panicked and said “quick, throw me a capo!” and someone tossed you a trigger-style – regardless of which string instrument you are holding – there’s a strong chance you’ll be able to play just fine.

Cons of a Trigger-style Capo

  • Since trigger-style capos are more of a “universal” capo, they apply a constant and non-adjustable amount of tension on the strings and neck. Depending on the stringed instrument you have and what your strings are made of, this might not be the best solution for you. It will certainly work – but you can’t guarantee the right tension on the strings to have no buzzing in the strings.
  • Trigger-style can feel bulky to some because of the arms/prongs that have to stick up or away from the neck of the guitar neck. I’ve never had a problem with this but I can see why some might not prefer this.

Squeeze-Style Capos

Another good type of capo is a squeeze-style capo. All capos apply tension on the strings, but this is a style where you can manually adjust the level of tension simply by squeezing the capo while it is on the strings in the fret position you want.

A squeeze-style can be a capo for an electric guitar because of the variable tension to go on the lighter gauge strings. A popular squeeze-style capo is the G7th Performance 3 Capo with ART.

Pros of a Squeeze-style Capo

  • A pro of the squeeze-style capo is that you can adjust the tension to exactly what you want by squeezing the capo and playing the strings until they produce a clear sound. This is also good for a ukulele, for example, where you have nylon strings. In this case, a clamp-style capo might apply too much pressure on the string and create buzzing or overly sharp-sounding strings.
  • They usually have a quick-release button or lever which makes them easy to release. This is also good if you apply too much tension and need to start from scratch – just remove it and try again until you have a clear sound.
  • Squeeze-style capos have a slender look since they are really just a small object that wraps around the neck without large arms/prongs hanging off (like in a trigger-style). This isn’t a huge deal for most but if you want a cleaner look when you play, a squeeze-style might be for you.

Cons of a Squeeze-style Capo

  • Generally, they are a little slower to apply and remove (compared to a trigger-style which takes a second) but they are still relatively quick to apply and use.

C-Clamp Capo

Another style of capo is the C-clamp, named for its “C” shape. This capo is another style of capo where the tension is adjustable (variable tension). However, instead of just squeezing the capo to apply to the neck, these types of capos create tension using some sort of a small screw usually known as a thumbscrew.

This screw, when tightened, pushes against a small wheel which then pushes on another arm to contact the back of the neck. An example of this is the Shubb C1K.

Another variation of the C-Clamp is that the thumbscrew pushes a rubber pad directly into the back of the neck. A popular example of this is a Paige Original. Both of these capo variations have a rubber pad that contacts the strings and have different forms of quick-release to be moved if needed.

Pros of a C-Clamp Capo

  • A huge benefit of any C-clamp capo is that you can 100% adjust the tension amount to meet the needs of your instrument, string gauge, etc. If you go too tight, simply unscrew a bit to correct the tension for the perfect sound.

Cons of a C-Clamp Capo

  • One potential drawback of some styles of C-clamp is that over time the small metallic arm with the wheel (which is under tension) can bend and not spring back to its original position. This means you might have less tension over time but this would likely only occur over prolonged usage.

Glider Capo

Also known as a rolling capo, this is a newer style capo that physically rolls up and down the neck of the guitar under constant tension via springs. When not in use, you can store this capo behind the nut to be out of the way fairly easily. A classic example is the Glider Capo by Greg Bennett Co.

Pros of a Glider Capo

  • Glider capos are relatively easy to move up and down the neck to the fret you want.
  • Glider capos also store nicely behind the nut when not in use and have a small profile overall.

Cons of a Glider Capo

  • Similar to other capos that use springs and apply constant pressure, you have no control over the exact tension on the strings.
  • Honestly, gliders seem like an innovative idea – but if you’re already fine with not having complete control of the tension on the strings, a trigger-style just feels faster to move/use.

Partial/Cut Capo

Another type of capo that exists is a cut capo or a partial capo. These are capos that do not cover all of the strings – they only cover some strings while not others. This is known as partial coverage.

Capos in this category achieve this by having some of the rubber removed so that a string isn’t covered (like the low E string) or the capo is physically cut shorter so only a few of the middle strings are actually being pressed down by the capo.

A classic example of a partial capo is the Kyser Drop D Partial Capo while the Shubb C7B Brass Partial Capo is a great cut-capo that only covers the inner 3 strings.

Pros of a Partial/Cut Capo

  • If you play many songs in a certain tuning – like Drop D – then having a partial capo can be a bit of a time saver when switching between playing different songs.
  • There is a high level of creativity that can come from a cut capo. This means you can have lots of fun with fretted and open strings and find unique combinations/sounds when you play. You can even use more than one capo – yeah, we said it – to create tunings just not possible otherwise.

Cons of a Partial/Cut Capo

  • An obvious downside of the partial capo is that is it does not function like a regular capo which covers all the string. Therefore, a cut or partial capo isn’t as universally useful in your gig bag.

Spider Capo

The last capo type we’ll cover is a spider capo. This capo is for more advanced guitar players or those with some musical training because spider capos allow you to tune individual strings to different notes. A classic example of this style is the actual trademarked “Spider Capo”.

A pro of this capo is that you can play around with funky tunings without having to re-tune all strings by hand. You simply set the prongs to each string individually to create the new tuning.

A con is that a spider capo is more for creativity and not constant reliability. You shouldn’t get a this style of capo over the ones mentioned above if you’re looking for your first, versatile capo. You could but that’s really not what it a spider capo is used for. Also, more moving parts mean more chances of gear failure.

Best Capos for Different Guitar Types

Since nothing is straightforward and capos all work differently for different guitars, here is a brief breakdown of what to think about when trying to find the best capo to buy for a specific type of guitar.

Best Capo for Acoustic Guitar

It’s true that many capos are made specifically for acoustic guitars – which is handy if you have an acoustic guitar! The best capos for acoustic guitars understand the fact that these guitars have steel strings that require a good amount of tension and also have a more v-shaped neck.

For these reasons, most “normal capos” like the Kyser Quick-Change or the WINGO will do just fine. But again, the more adjustable capos are technically the “best” since different guitar makes and models (even between acoustic guitars) will have different necks and require slightly different tension amounts to get the perfect sound.

Best Capo for Electric Guitar

Yes, there is a “best” type of capo for an electric guitar. Again, it comes down to guitar anatomy. Two of the biggest differences between acoustic and electric guitars are the size of the neck and the string gauge (thickness).

Generally, the necks are narrower on an electric guitar and the string gauge is typically lighter. This means that the capo doesn’t need too much force to be effective. The more tension you put on a lighter string gauge, the more likely you are to pull the tuning sharp – making the electric guitar sound out of tune.

So, electric guitar capos are made to not have as much tension (clamping power). However, you can also achieve less tension on the strings by using an adjustable capo. Kyser makes a specific electric guitar capo while this Shubb adjustable tension capo also works well. A pressure-based capo – the G7th Performance 3 – is another adjustable capo to consider specifically for electric guitars and their unique properties.

Best Capo for 12-String Guitar

When looking for the best capo for a 12-string guitar, there are two main considerations that make this guitar different from a 6-string: neck width and amount of strings.

A slightly wider neck width means that a regular acoustic capo might not do the trick and you will need a specific capo made for a 12-string. This varies by make and mode, though.

A more important consideration for a capo between a regular 6-string acoustic guitar and a 12-string guitar is the number of strings (no surprise here). More strings mean more tension (or clamping power) is needed to sufficiently press down on the strings.

So, a capo where you can adjust the tension manually is usually best since you can play around with it to get it just right for your 12-string. A popular 12-string guitar capo is this Shubb 12-String Guitar Capo since it’s specially designed for the neck width.

Best Capo for Classical Guitar

If you’re searching for the best classical guitar capo, there’s a bit more to think about. Similar to the considerations listed above, classical guitars generally have a much wider neck width than acoustic guitars. Classical guitars also usually have nylon strings which are much lighter gauge compared to steel. Furthermore, classical guitars have a slightly different – more curved – neck shape.

So, it is best to buy a classical guitar-specific capo like the D’Addario/Planet Waves NS 12-String Capo. This has a much wider rubber pad to cover the larger neck width and -most importantly – has an adjustable tension via thumbscrew so you don’t put too much tension on the lighter nylon strings.

Benefits Of Using A Guitar Capo

If you want to buy a capo but still question whether or not it’s worth it, there are a number of benefits to using a capo:

Playing Range – For me, this was a big one. I listen to a number of different genres and different artists – many of which use a capo in different songs that I wanted to learn. So, if you want to be able to play a number of different sounds from various artists – whether you want to cover them or just want to play around as you learn -, you’ll need a capo. You can’t (and shouldn’t) be expected to bar chord everything – especially in your earlier stages of guitar playing.

Versatility – If you want to play a song which is done on another instrument in a higher range – like a mandolin – then you can use a capo to recreate that range on your guitar. There are a number of classic mandolin riffs – like Iris By the Goo Goo Dolls – that you can bring to life on a guitar if you have a capo.

Singing – A capo can be very important when it comes to wanting to sing along to a song you are learning. This is especially true if your voice is different from that of the artist you are covering. Being able to change the pitch of the strings to match your comfortable singing range while still playing the same fingerings you’ve learned can bring a smile to any player’s face.

Enjoyment – Above all, capos allow for loads of creativity – especially a spider capo. Changing the pitch/key of your guitar can produce sounds through chords that you never imagined in an open tuning. Many little riffs – some of which became songs – came from slapping a capo on the 3rd fret (where I usually sing at) and just seeing what happened!

5 Things To Look For In A Good Guitar Capo

Guitar capos are pretty straightforward pieces of gear but there are a number of different things to look for/consider when you are buying a good guitar capo.

Made for Your Guitar Type – We covered this above, but not all guitars are the same and have the same components when it comes to things like neck width and string gauge. So, be sure to look at the capo that is made for your type of guitar. A Kyser Quick Change might work for a number of guitar types but it may not be the best capo solution for you.

Materials – Have a look at what the capo is made from as this will dictate overall strength, durability over time, look, etc. Metal capos – like those made from aluminum, zinc, or stainless steel – generally have a longer lifespan.

Another consideration for materials is the gauge of the rubber padding used, how it is fastened to the capo, and also whether or not there is rubber or tape used on the capo to protect the edge of your fretboard. These are more minor things to consider but the wrong capo may damage the fretboard edge over time.

Moving Mechanisms – Have a look at the moving parts on a capo and think about any potential failures. Popular moving parts to be extra critical of are the springs on trigger-style capos as well as the hinge/axel on which the capo moves to create the opening.

Over time and under pressure, these hinges can give depending on how the capo is built. The Shubb has a piece of metal that physically bends with the extending thumbscrew to create the tension. A part like this may lose tension over time.

Overall Look – This can vary much depending on personal preference but it also depends on where and when you play your guitar. Some capos have a spender profile while trigger-styles can stick up away from the neck. If you have lots of recording equipment or long hair (seriously), then a “handle down” trigger-style capo might be for you because there’s less chance of thing getting caught.

Price – Generally speaking, capos are fairly inexpensive in the first place. However, when it comes to how much a capo costs, you can find that cheaper capos are just that – cheap. More expensive capos are usually more expensive for a reason – better materials, better quality, longer lifespan. That said, I have had my more inexpensive Kyser for years and never had a problem. It really depends on how often you use the capo.

And there you have it – a rundown of the best guitar capos you’ll find on the market today. Guitar capos are a great little item that can help take your playing to the next level, and generally allow you to change it up/experiment every once in a while. We’d definitely recommend having a capo if you don’t already!

As always, Happy Strumming,
-E