A capo is an absolute necessity for all guitar players, especially acoustic players. Having a capo or two within arms reach in your practice space is will give you more options to explore other keys and even different tunings. These are my 5 favorite capos that I have used.
What is the purpose of a capo?
A capo simply allows you to use your existing chord shapes while moving the capo to change keys. This is a must if you’re learning songs to play and sing along to as a capo allows you to adjust the key quickly and easily to match the singer’s range. If you’re learning a song and the range it above your vocal range, try throwing a capo on the 5th fret and see if you can sing along now. Adjust as necessary until you find the key that matches your vocal range best.
How to say the word “capo”
It’s pronounced Kay-Poe, not Cap-Poe (unless you’re from the UK, then who knows how you pronounce it.) I’ve heard this pronounced wrong too many times to count and I don’t want you to sound like a total noob if you’re talking guitars with your new found guitar player friends.
My 5 Favorite Capos
These are my 5 favorite capos. I’ve used all of these on acoustics and electrics, and will vouch for every one of them. Below I’ll list the pros and cons of each. Let me know what you think in the comments below. What is your favorite capo?
The Keyser quick change capo is the go-to for many guitar players and has been mine for the past 20 years. In fact I still have and use my first capo that I ever bought. This capo works well with any guitar, both acoustic and electric, and accommodates most neck radius. If you’re looking for your first capo, look no further. You’ll be using this for the next two decades, unless you lose it. But that’s not the capo’s fault.
The Shubb is my favorite overall capo to use with my acoustic guitar. The Shubb allows you to adjust the tension which is very important with some neck types. For instance, my Martin D-18V has a pretty thick neck up near the upper frets. This wider thickness causes some capos, like the Keyser, to have a higher tension on the strings. This causes the notes to go sharp even if the guitar is in tune without the capo on. When using the Shubb, you adjust the capo so that it has just enough tension to give the note a crisp clear tone. While it isn’t as quick to place as some other capos, it has an awesome low profile that won’t get caught on anything. And frankly, I think this is the best looking capo of the bunch.
3) Planet Wave
The Planet wave is a mix of the best quick change attributes of the Keyser, with the adjustable tension of the Shubb. The other thing I really like about this capo is that the clamp is opposite of the Keyser. It has a similar low profile to the Shubb, and won’t catch anything from the string side of the fretboard. Getting the best of both worlds is a great reason to pick up the planet wave.
Tried and true capo of the acoustic folk guitar player. The Paige attaches around the neck and slides over the nut towards the tuners when not in use. The center tension adjust puts pressure evenly across all strings, which improves overall intonation which gives a more consistent tuning. The tension is fully adjustable which allows you to further insure that tuning and intonation is consistent across all strings. Because the capo just slides over the nut when not in use, this capo can be kept on the guitar at all times, fit’s into a guitar case no problem, and is seen as a staple on many flatpickers and folk guitarist’s acoustics.
5) Creative Tunings SpiderCapo Standard – The Studio Grade Capo
For the last capo on my top 5 favorite capo list, I’m going to choose something a little more unique. This capo allows the tension to be adjusted for every single string. This is the only capable of doing such custom adjustments. While this capo is not what you’d call “quick change” by any stretch of the imagination, this is an absolute must for recording, a studio, or the player with an above average ear. As any seasoned guitar player knows, the intonation across all strings is not consistent. This is why compensated saddles, and sometimes nuts (and even sometimes frets), exist… to make up for this inconsistency. This capo allows you to get perfectly spot on each note’s tuning and intonation so that all notes are in tune up the guitar neck. This is a very specific capo, but a must for any serious guitar player.