If you’ve ever wondered which capo is the right fit for you, you’ve come to the right place. This article will give you all the information that you need to make an informed purchase, as well as giving you our top recommendations!
11 Best Capos
Kyser Quick Change Capo
»The industry standard. Durable and dependable.
I've had this capo for over a decade, and it still works like a charm. It is always in my guitar case and is super easy to use.
The Kyser Quick Change is the most popular capo out there. The reason is simple. It is easy to use and dependable. You can quickly change its position single handedly. It is ubiquitous and has an impressive track record for durability, so this capo will likely last you forever. Its design makes the grips very easy to access to operate the capo, but also makes the capo stick out from the guitar neck so it is more noticeable to the player and the audience than low profile designs. However, if you are looking for a simple clamp capo design, it is hard to beat.
We really like this capo, and because you can adjust the tension of the mechanism it’s a great option if you don’t want to be constantly retuning your guitar as you put on and remove your capo. It’s a bit awkward to manipulate. The mechanism is a bit tight and it’s hard to use it with speed until you get the hang of it. However, if you are recording or just playing around the house the Shubb is perfectly respectable. We are also big fans of the quality and all metal construction.
»Design that rolls with your thumb. Perfect for acoustic 6 strings.
What’s great about this capo is that as soon as it’s put on you’re good to change the position of it with a roll of your thumb. It slides up or down the neck with no issue. So if you change your capo position a lot you may want to look into this one. Unfortunately, it’s also a bit awkward to put on and take off. You can roll it up past the nut when you’re not using it however, which will make it a lot easier to smoothly transition to songs where you don’t need a capo. Like most capos at this price point, the Greg Bennett Glider has an adjustable tension mechanism.
The G7th capos could be the best sounding capo on the market. There’s significantly less padding so your guitar will sustain more and retain a more open tone. They also did a great job with the fine tuning mechanism, so you shouldn’t have to worry overly much about re-tuning when you use it. However, they are a priced at a slight premium to their competitors. For recording purposes this capo is a must have if you’re an acoustic musician.
What I like about this capo is that it’s really rugged, and while the mechanism is a bit more awkward than a trigger style capo it’s pretty well suited to live performance. Just like most nicer capos you can also adjust the tension really easily. This is actually my go-to capo when I play live shows, because in addition to being really serviceable in general it also has a really thin profile on the back of neck.
»Ergonomic and backed by a Fender one year warranty.
The Fender Phoenix is a spring-action aluminum capo. It has rubber padding on both grip areas to make handling the Phoenix a breeze, even with one hand. It is one of the less expensive options on this list, and comes with a one-year warranty from Fender. Finally, it has a smaller form factor than the other trigger style capos, so if portability is important to you and you still want this style, the Fender could be a great option for you.
The Dunlop trigger is a clamp style simple capo that works like a charm. It does not have a tension adjustment, so over time it can have a negative affect on your tuning. However, that is true of this style more than this specific capo. The Dunlop Trigger comes in widths for acoustics or electric guitars, and gives you the option of choosing a flat or curved radius fret board pad. All things considered, this is an excellent clamp style capo from a trusted manufacturer that can usually be found for less than the Kyser.
Thalia capos are functional, sure, but they are more than that. Features exotic woods, materials, and even precious metals, these are works of art. The company started from a Kickstarter campaign and has since grown into a successful business. The story is that the founder’s daughter saw Taylor Swift playing an ornate guitar with a simple capo that stood out like a sore thumb. That didn’t sit well with her so the company set out to have multiple metallic finished and inlays so that people could take as much pride in their capo as they do with their guitar. The Thalias are highly customizable, with pads that fit the fret board of many different types of guitars. These pads snap in and out of the capo without adhesives. The spring is also preloaded, making it very easy to open, even if you are lacking hand strength. It is clear to see why this is the Cadillac of capos.
The toggle capo from Dunlop is an aluminum bar with a rubber pad underneath that is fit to your fret board with a strap that goes around the neck of the guitar and locks in to the slots of the aluminum frame. The upside is this capo is the most portable and least expensive on this list since the materials are the most basic. The downside is because there are a limited number of fixed notches in the frame, it is impossible to adjust the tension, leading to a lack or precision. This can lead more muted tones than a better capo, so be warned if you go this route you could be sacrificing adjustability for convenience and cost. However, for some that rarely use capos or are on a tight budget, that tradeoff is worth making.
The Planet Waves NS capo from D’Addario uses a large knurled thumbscrew to adjust the tension of the capo. This mechanism allows it to be smaller than your average clamp style capo. It is made of aluminum and the placement and size of the knob make it easy to adjust the tension. The downside is it does take a slightly longer to move positions to another fret because screw takes a bit longer than the simple trigger clamps. The capo is relatively low profile, so it looks great from the audience’s point of view and the adjustability makes it sound terrific.
The Donner DC-2 is a great value for the money. It is a traditional clamp style capo with a strong spring. The opening will accommodate anything from a really thick neck to a ukulele. The design is great and Donner has really produced a reliable capo. The DC-2 comes in quite a few different finishes and just works.
A capo allows you to change the musical key you’re playing in without changing the position of your fingers. For example, suppose you look up the chords to one of your favorite songs. You practice playing along with that song with the chords provided, but when you finally get it down you discover that the song is too high/low for you to sing along with. By capoing you can change the key to find a better fit for your register without having to relearn the song in a different position.
Capos are also helpful if you want to play in keys that are awkward for the guitar, like flatted/sharp keys. Say you want to play a song in Eb. You can stick a capo on the first fret and play it with open chords from the key of D.
This is especially helpful if you want to play finger-style arrangements of songs or accompany a vocalist with finger picking. For example, I do a song in the key of E where I prefer to use open C and Fmaj7 shapes. By placing a capo on the 4th fret I can do that really simply. I don’t have to relearn the song, and I don’t have to try and contort my fingers into any overly awkward positions.
How To Choose a Capo
Decide what form factor you like. Is it most important that the capo be easy and quick to use, extremely adjustable, stay out of the way, or look great on your guitar? Form factor will also determine portability and convenience of use.
Do you need a mechanism to adjust how tight the capo is? This feature allows you to choose the right amount of tension to hold the strings down tightly enough to create a good tone and sustain.
Next, think about how rugged you need the capo to be and how that translates into materials and build quality. Along these lines, consider if the manufacturer offers a warranty on the capo and how much you want to spend on a capo for these features.