Some people think that using a capo to play the guitar is cheating. If you are someone who can play the guitar without a capo, you deserve countless amount of high-fives.
Playing the guitar without a capo is incredibly difficult and requires a crazy amount of practice in order to be able to play in difficult keys.
However, I find that instead of wasting all of that time practicing those difficult keys, you can just use a capo! Using a capo adds a whole new range to your playing, without having to add any extra practice time into your day.
Not to mention, using a capo is a whole lot of fun! With added enjoyment comes a larger desire to practice, which means you’re going to become a better guitar player.
Bottom Line Up Front: These are my top picks for the best guitar capos options…
- Kyser Quick Change Capo – Best Trigger Capo
- D’addario Classical Capo – Best Screw Capo
- Dunlop Curved Toggle Capo – Best Toggle Capo
- Shubb C1 Capo – Best Shubb Capo
- G7th Performance 2 Capo – Best G7th Capo
But, before we even get into talking about the best capos on the market today, we need to talk about what a capo actually does and the different types of capos that you can purchase.
Quick Guide to The Best Guitar Capos
Before you can fully understand the different aspects that different types of capos can bring to your technique, we need to have a talk about what the capo does on the guitar and how to properly use the capo. Guitar capos are used by guitarists all around the world, as the capo allows the guitarist to change the key of the guitar.
If you are a singer and use your guitar to introduce the key of the song to your ear, capos are incredibly useful; by using a capo, guitarists don’t have to tune their guitar every time they change songs and also don’t have to learn complex chords that are on the lower part of
How to Use Your Capo
Capos also allow a guitarist to produce different tones on the guitar without having to learn any difficult chord structures; matter of fact, with the help of a capo, you can use the same basic chord shapes that most guitarists use when they first learn how to start playing.
Capos don’t come with instruction manuals, so when you first get yourself a guitar capo, you’re going to need to know how to properly use your capo. If you are a guitarist who uses sheet music or tabs, you may notice at the beginning of certain pieces, it tells you to barre or capo on a particular fret.
Take your capo, slide it over the desired fret, and clamp your capo down over the fret.
Depending upon the size of the capo that you purchase, your capo should hold down all six (or twelve) strings on your guitar. The capo will act the same exact way that your index finger does when you use your finger to barre chords.
If you have never used a capo before, I would suggest that when you first use it to start playing, you use it on your first, second, and third fret, just to give yourself an idea of how your guitar sounds with the capo. Make sure that you’re cognitive of the capo changing the tone, key, and notes when you’re playing.
When applying your capo to your guitar, make sure that to tighten the capo close behind the fret you have it clamped on. By applying your capo in the middle of the fret, you will can tension the be unevenly disturbed across the neck of your guitar.
By applying uneven tension across the neck, you may receive a buzzing sound or a muted sound when you are trying to play. In order to prevent this from happening to you, apply your capo as close to the edge of the fret as you possibly can.
Once you have enough of a basic understanding on how to properly introduce yourself to a capo, it’s time you actually use it! Before you actually apply your capo to your guitar, make sure that your guitar is tuned.
Even if you want to change the key of your guitar, you still need to tune it; without tuning your guitar, no matter where you place your capo, your guitar is going to sound bad. The standard tuning for a guitar is E, A, D, G, B, E. If you aren’t experienced enough yet to be able to aurally tune your guitar (tune your guitar by ear) purchase an electric tuner.
Before you start to heavily use a capo, make sure that you know how to play the fundamental chord shapes. Basic open chords like C, F Major, e minor, and A should require little thought to you; make sure that you understand how to play these chords before moving on to chords that are more difficult, such as b minor, D7, C# Sustained 4.
If you are already proficient at playing open chord progressions, having a capo won’t cause you much trouble. In fact, having a capo will make you more versatile on guitar. If you’re a beginning guitarist or an intermediate player, I would suggest that you purchase a chord map at your local music store or print one off online.
A chord map is great to have around if you’re struggling to remember how to play a chord or if you’re looking for alternative ways to play the chord.
When beginning guitarists first learn about the capo, it’s common for them to ask if the capo can hurt their guitar. Don’t worry for one second! The companies that manufacture capos have the same worry in mind, so they ensure that their capos are well padded, which minimizes the risk to your guitar.
However, if you leave a capo on your guitar while your guitar is being stored, you’re going to put your guitar out of tune and you also risk damaging your guitar over a period of time.
How do I play with a capo on my guitar?
Before you start jamming out, you want to make sure that when you put your capo on your guitar, it’s tight. If you put the capo on the fret too loose, your strings are going to produce a buzzing noise. Also, if you put it on too loosely, the capo could slip off the fret when you are in the middle of a song, which is something that you definitely don’t want.
When I put on a capo, I make sure that the capo is parallel with my fret, to ensure that it doesn’t bend the strings on my guitar. If you happen to place the capo on uneven, you risk the chance of bending your strings, which will make your guitar sound out of tune.
I also make sure that I put it right behind a fret, which helps to keep the capo sturdy on
Once I got the hang of properly applying the capo to my guitar, it took me a lot longer to truly understand how to play guitar with the capo. For me, it was difficult to re-think
Once you have a capo on, you need to remember to subtract half of a step from each chord. This sounds super confusing, so I’m going to explain it with an example.
If you have your capo on the first fret, Ab is going to now become a G. While a G chord is much easier to play finger wise, you’re still going to have to learn how to re-think the chord progression while you are playing. For about a year, I carried around with me and used a
I would always try my best to think of the answer myself and double check with the cheat sheet; doing this really helped me to allow the re-thinking of the chord progression to become second nature to me.
Below, I have the same chord progression chart that I used to help me learn!
How should I go about purchasing the best capo?
When first going shopping for a capo, you’re going to want to determine how you want to play your guitar and what type of capo you want. If you plan on using a capo at home while you practice, consider purchasing a screw capo, because it’s the most durable capo and it’s incredibly precise.
We’re not saying that the best capo is going to magically improve your guitar playing, but if you want to play in a different key, they can really help.
If you plan on using a capo during live performances, you’re going to want to purchase a trigger capo; this is because trigger capo can be adjusted quickly.
However, if you plan on using a capo during live performances, you’re going to want to purchase a trigger capo; this is because trigger capo can be adjusted quickly and can easily fit into your gig bag!
There is no set price for capos; if you plan on shopping online for your capo, search around a little bit to determine a price that you feel comfortable with. If you think you’re going to want to purchase your capo in-store, make sure you ask to try out the different capo options they have (remember to bring your guitar to test the capos out on).
If you are a new guitarist or you have never used a capo before, I would personally suggest that you purchase a cheap capo; that way, if you don’t like using a capo, you don’t end up wasting a lot of money. You can find capos as cheap as $4!
As you might expect, the best guitar capo really depends on what YOU need…
What different types of capos can I purchase?
If you have never purchased a capo before, you have yet to learn the lesson between good capos and bad capos. Yes, whether you believe it or not, there is a difference! Bad capos tend to slide off frets, cause buzzing because of their poor construction, and end up taking your attention away from playing.
So, today we’re going to cover different types of capos and the capos that I really suggest
Trigger capos are the most popular capos out of all of the designs that are on today’s market.
Trigger capos use a spring-loaded clamp in order to hold their tension. Trigger capos are popular because they allow players to quickly and easily adjust and reposition the capo only using one hand.
You apply an acoustic trigger capo by squeezing the handles and releasing the handles on the desired fret. Trigger capos use resistance to hold down guitar strings, which means that you don’t need to adjust any straps or loosen any screws in order to use the capo.
A Trigger guitar capo is commonly used in live performances and this is because it’s super easy to move it up and down the neck of the guitar.
If you happen to purchase a capo that’s poor quality, you will find that the capo is too loose, which results in a buzzing sound when the guitar is played. On the other hand, if the capo is too tight, unnecessary tension will be put onto the guitar neck and you’re going to have a really hard time tuning your guitar.
The only downfall with trigger capos is that you can’t adjust the tension of the capo, so you really have to make sure you’re purchasing a capo that’s high quality.
However, all of these problems are potential problems. It’s not guaranteed that you’re going to run into them. Trigger capos are the cheapest and easier capos to use, out of all of the competition on the market. This is why they are the most popular capo on the market and why they are perfect for beginning capo users.
Best Trigger Capo
My favorite trigger capo is the Kyser KG6B 6 String capo; it’s a simple trigger capo that doesn’t have a whole bunch of bells and whistles.
I love all of the different color options and themes that the Kyser Quick Change offers. My only complaint that because I have smaller, weaker hands, I have a hard time moving this capo around.
Trigger capos are known to give your instrument a harsh, thin sound and bending strings out of tune. That’s a common problem with trigger capos and the Kyser Capo is no different.
However, I do have to say that for a trigger capo, it’s super durable and consistent. If you are someone who doesn’t need to constantly switch keys all the time, I would suggest the Kyser KG6B 6 String capo for you.
If you have a guitar that has a thin neck or a guitar that has high action, I personally have found it to be a lot more efficient to use a screw capo. This is because you can fine tune the tension that the capo exerts onto your guitar, making it to be personalized and more efficient.
The only complaint that I have about a screw capo is that they take longer to adjust compared to any other capo. Screw capos allow you to put the perfect level of tension on a guitar regardless of the guitar’s neck size, string action, or fret position.
While the screw capo is personable to each guitar, this design does come with its fair amount of disadvantages as well. Repositioning the capo takes a lot of time, especially compared to the trigger capo; every time you go to move the screw capo, you have to loosen the tension and then tighten it in order for it to stay at its new position.
Using a screw capo on stage isn’t highly recommended and this is because the screw capo takes time to re-adjust and if you’re in a rush and don’t apply it correctly, you’re setting yourself up for poor tension levels.
Best Screw Capo
The best screw-on capo that I have ever used is the D’Addario Classical Capo. There are a lot of screw capos that are available on the market today that are outrageously expensive and for no good reason. I personally enjoy the D’Addaroio Capo because it’s the perfect choice to make if you have a classical guitar.
As someone who often plays classical guitar, I know that it’s hard to find a capo that will fit your wider neck. This capo is inexpensive and it’s been crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum, meaning that the capo is built to withstand some abuse.
The toggle capo is the simplest capo design out of all of the different capos on the market; the toggle capo applies tension to the strings with an adjustable strap. There are several increments that can be tightened along multiple notches on the back of the capo.
I know several of my friends who like the toggle capo because it’s small and lightweight. However, while I think that’s an okay benefit, it really doesn’t make up for the fact of how problematic the design is.
When you secure the capo over the neck of the guitar, the strap tends to lie in between two notches; either one notch happens to be too loose and the other notch is too tight. Even if it’s a perfect fit when you first purchase it (which it was when I first purchased a toggle capo), it stretches over time.
I also have found that if you accidentally stretch the toggle capo too much, it breaks super easy. I would say that this capo is not my favorite.
Best Toggle Capo
I am personally not the biggest fan of toggle capos. However, I do feel like they are a decent capo to try out if you are a
I think that the price for this capo is cheap, which means that it’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg to replace in case yours breaks. I love using the toggle capos on ukuleles, because it’s so easy to move around and doesn’t get in my way when I’m playing ukulele.
This nickel-plated capo is light and simple to use, featuring an adjustable strap and a sleek ergonomic profile that won't scratch up your guitar neck.
Partial Guitar Capo
Partial capos are rare to find in a guitarist’s gig bag, no matter what their level of playing is. Partial capos are occasionally used, but when they are used, it’s such a unique experience that people usually get hooked. I love using a partial capo because the partial capo allows you to create sounds that are normally possible to create on a standard guitar.
The only thing that I have to say about partial capos is that I would only suggest advanced players get into using them. While you don’t have to be an advanced player to use the partial capo, being an advanced player allows you to truly unlock the full capability the partial
Back in 1980, the Shubb capo was born. The design of the Shubb capo was created in order to give the user the speed of trigger capo, along with the precision of a screw capo. The only complaint that I have about the Shubb capo is that they are more expensive compared to
However, they do have capos that have been specifically created for different instruments and different playing styles, which I think it unique.
Best Shubb Capo
The Shubb C1 allows the user to apply a unique tension on the fret of the guitar, while also providing users with a quick-release lever. If you are someone who has a curved fretboard, the Shubb C4 is a great capo for you to purchase.
My only complaint about the C1 and C4 Shubb capos is that because of the adjustable tension, you can’t clamp the capo onto the headstock of your guitar. You’ll have to keep it in your pocket or keep it in your gig back. However, I love the slim profile of the Shubb adjustable tension capos (also check out the Shubb S1 adjustable tension)!
The G7th capo is still considered a brand new capo in the guitar world, even though it was built in 2004. I have a love-hate relationship with the G7th capos; I like them because they’re easy to move around because all you have to do is flip the lever to move it.
I also like the G7th capo because it’s very gentle on my guitar because the inside of the capo is lined with rubber and the outside of the capo doesn’t have any sharp metal edges. This capo is also to easy to customize the tension levels on the guitar, as all you need to do is squeeze the capo over the neck and it automatically locks into place.
A lot of people say that they feel like the G7th capos are unobtrusive when it comes to playing. However, I do feel like they get into the way just a bit when I play. I also feel like it weighs down the neck of my guitar, because the capo is a lot heavier than other capos that I’ve used.
Best G7th Guitar Capo
Out of all of the different G7th capos that I’ve ever tried, the G7th Performance 2 Capo is my favorite capo to use.
As someone who plays acoustic guitar and electric guitar, I hated having to purchase two different capos for my guitars (acoustic guitar capo AND electric guitar capo). I never could find a capo that fit both of my guitars.
One day, I stumbled upon the G7th Performance 2 Capo and I found that it fit both my acoustic guitar and electric guitar! I also like that the performance capo is not obstructive on either instrument, because of the small and sleek design.
The G7th Performance 2 classical guitar capo is a new, slimmer and lighter designed capo, and still contains all of the great features you have come to expect from G7th!
Are there capos available for electric guitars?
It’s not very common to see capos used on electric guitars. This is because playing on an electric guitar is more about playing singular notes rather than whole chords; this means you aren’t going to need any fancy pieces in order to play electric guitar.
Also, the strings on electric guitars are much easier to depress (play barre chords) with rather than the strings on acoustic guitars. However, if you have decided that you’re going to be playing more rhythmically rather than singular notes on the electric guitar, you can use any standard capo that’s made for an acoustic guitar on an electric guitar.
Conclusion: Finding the Best Guitar Capo
There are a few more things that we should talk about before we wrap up this article.
When playing in a group setting, whether be in a band or with other guitarists, determine what key you are playing in. You’re going to want to play in the same key as other people because you’re going to want your music to sound cohesive to the group.
For each key, there are seven different chords. The position that you place your capo in will change the chords that you are playing; this means that every time you change the position of the capo, you are changing the key that you are playing in.
The progression of chords within a scale go as follows:
Using this pattern will allow you to figure out the chords that are in the key of C, C Major, c minor, d minor, e minor, F Major, G Major, A diminished.
There is some basic music theory that you should know when using a capo. For example, moving your capo one ONE fret will move your chord up a half step; moving your capo up on the neck of the guitar TWO frets, you will move your guitar up one full step.
While getting used to using a capo on your guitar, you should also being to learn how to transpose your music while using a capo. You can get a chart online and these charts will tell you exactly what chord you are playing based upon where your capo is positioned.
You can also use a capo to brighten the tone of your guitar. Did you know that if you move a capo further down on the neck of your guitar, it will brighten the tone of your guitar?
By moving the capo further down the neck, you brighten the tone of your guitar, making it easier to create upbeat and happy music; doing this can also help you to match your vocal registry.
That’s a wrap for the top five best guitar capo options on the market today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article!
Further Reading on Guitar Accessories & Playing:
- 10 Best Beginner Electric Guitar Songs to Try First
- Top Beginner Acoustic Accessories to Get Started
- Best Tips for Playing Guitar with Small Hands
- How to Choose the Right Guitar Strings
- Balanced Tension Guitar String Options Guide
- Best Black Friday / Cyber Monday Guitar Deals: Guitars, Amps, More! - November 27, 2023
- The Ultimate Yamaha C40 Classical Guitar Review You’ll Love - August 23, 2023
- The Best 12-String Guitars Guide - August 22, 2023