Many tools are made for guitars because it is such a popular instrument. Capos, slides, various pickups, etc.
However, because a ukulele is such a niche instrument, not many pieces of gear are made specifically for them. Sure, ukulele straps exist. But are you able to use some of these guitar accessories on a ukulele – specifically a guitar capo? Let’s find out.
It is possible to use a guitar capo on the ukulele. However, there are factors to consider. You need to consider the type of capo because there are many (Trigger, G7th, Screw, Shubb, etc.) Then consider the size of the ukulele and how far you need the capo to go because there are various ukulele sizes.
This article will cover the various types of capos you can purchase. It will then cover the differences and similarities between a guitar (acoustic) and a ukulele.
Understanding all these factors is invaluable in learning which capos you can use for a ukulele and how to go about choosing one.
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Can You Use A Guitar Capo On The Ukulele?
To be fair, there are capos made specifically for ukuleles. You can purchase one and not have to worry about using a guitar capo with your uke. However, if you’ve got a guitar capo in hand and want to use it on your uke – this article is for you.
Guitar capos come in various shapes and sizes, and to truly understand if we can use one of them on a ukulele, we need to understand the differences between a guitar and a ukulele.
By understanding what makes them different and then similar in ways, we can understand what type of a capo (if any) is able to be used on one.
We also then need to know which types of capos there are and which would be applicable to the ukulele. So let’s discuss the various kinds of capos first.
Different Types Of Capos
As we said, some capos may be able to be used on a ukulele, and in fact, there are more capos than you think there would be.
In this article, we will only cover ones that would be applicable to our topic, but we will still briefly cover a lot of them so you can grasp the concept of both better.
There are, in fact, ten main types of capos that you can get for a guitar, and they are namely;
- G7th Capo
- Trigger Capo
- Screw Capo
- Shubb Capo
- Partial Capo
- Spider Capo
- Roller Capo
- Cradle Capo
- Strap Capo
- Toggle Capo
For our purposes, we will only need to consider the first four capos and then the strap capo because those would typically be the most common capos that your average player would use.
We cover most of these in our Detailed Guitar Capo Buying Guide.
This capo has unique tension control and is covered in rubber, so it is effortless to move up and down the fretboard. This capo is typically considered the be-all and end-all of elite capos out there.
The trigger capo is one that most individuals will pick out of a guitar store. It is the one that you squeeze to open up and move up and down the fretboard. It is also covered in rubber on both inside pads to prevent any damage to the guitar.
The screw capo is for players who need their capo to be precise and to provide the best overall tension on all strings.
Many average players won’t opt for this capo because it is used for particular situations or guitars (or ukuleles) that have exceptionally wide fretboards.
The also screw capo is covered in rubber on both ends. However, you have to screw this capo down to provide the tension physically. It does provide unison pressure, though.
The Shubb capo is a combination of the screw and trigger capo, and not many players will opt to use it, although it provides unison tension when screwed into place.
Many players would just opt for either the trigger – which is popular – or the screw capo.
The strap capo is probably the capo that every guitar player or player that needs a capo starts out with.
It is the cheapest of them all and provides a relatively decent job when it is placed in low positions on the guitar or ukulele. The problem is that it does not provide the greatest pressure.
Differences Between A Guitar and Ukulele
Because a ukulele can be considered part of the family of guitars, and many individuals actually consider it a small guitar (which it is not), there are many similar characteristics between the two instruments.
So we will consider five various aspects of the two and relate them. Now that we know which capos there are, we can tell which (if any) can be used on a ukulele.
As you may be able to tell, a ukulele is much smaller than a guitar. However, consider that they are both “constructed” in a similar fashion in terms of the head, the neck, fretboard, and body.
Keep in mind that there are various sizes of acoustic guitars, from jumbo to miniature, and everything in-between.
The same goes for ukuleles, although ukulele size is based on;
- Soprano – 12 to 15 frets
- Concert – 15 to 20 frets
- Tenor – 15 to 25 frets
- Baritone – 18 frets and above
The two types of instruments are the same in design in all other regards. We can say you could use a capo on the ukulele in this aspect because of this. You would only have to consider the size of the ukulele and then which capo you would need.
A ukulele has four strings, namely;
An acoustic guitar and most other guitars have six strings, namely;
Now, the strings won’t matter in terms of what they are tuned to on these instruments. It will help if you remember that a capo is only there to make whatever tuning the instrument is (in this case, a guitar and ukulele) higher.
Thus, we can again use a capo on the ukulele in this aspect. However, you will need to decide which one you require in terms of the ukulele size.
The sound of the two instruments is entirely different as you would gather. A ukulele sounds much higher, while an acoustic guitar sounds lower (in tone or timbre).
Now, a capo is made so that you can basically make the sound of whatever instrument (guitar or ukulele) higher.
Typically capos are used because singers need to sing in various keys, and a capo is the easiest way to achieve this key change on these instruments.
Hence, in terms of sound, a capo will only make a guitar or ukulele sound higher (for whatever reason you need it to), and thus, it won’t be problematic once again.
One place where the guitar and ukulele differ is type of strings used. Typically, ukuleles have nylon strings and guitars (acoustic and electric) have steel strings.
Guitar capos are designed to work best when applying pressure to steel strings. In essence, they can clamp down with quite a fit of force to be able to depress high-tension steel strings.
So, you can use a guitar capo with nylon strings on a ukulele. Just remember that nylon strings are under less tension so too much pressure might make them sound dull or dead.
This is where a capo with adjustable tension would be the best fit for a ukulele – you can get the tension on the strings just right to produce clear sound.
The scale length will most definitely be one of the defining factors in terms of what capo you choose to use on your ukulele. By now, we have almost gathered that, of course, you can use a guitar capo on the ukulele.
A guitar’s scale length is much longer, and just by that factor, you have a choice of various guitar capos (that is why there are so many).
Depending on the size of the ukulele (and where you need to place the capo), you will need to test out many capos, preferably, to find one that will work well with your ukulele’s smaller scale/neck length.
By going over the various capos and the differences between a guitar and ukulele, we, in fact, discovered that you could indeed use a capo on the ukulele. There are various factors to consider, however.
You will need to decide or know what size ukulele you will be playing, and then you will need to test out the various capos available to you to see which one suits you best.
A capo might work right away or it may be as simple as adjusting the capo tension to produce perfect sound on your uke.
Lastly, there is essentially “no difference” between the two instruments if you break them down to their core, and thus because of that, you can rest assured a capo will work on the ukulele (but might need a tension adjustment or two).
As always, Happy Playing,