If you’re a singer or want to play a song in another key, it can be difficult. Your guitar is tuned to standard tuning, which doesn’t match the voice of many singers. You could tune to another tuning, but this takes time. To solve this, you need a capo. This guide will help you find the best guitar capo for acoustic and electric instruments.
Table of Contents
- 1 In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
- 2 What is a Guitar Capo?
- 3 Why Use a Guitar Capo?
- 4 Types of Capo
- 5 Best Capo for Electric Guitar
- 6 Best Capo for Acoustic Guitar
- 7 Capo Tips
- 8 Best Guitar Capos
- 9 Conclusion
In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
What is a Guitar Capo?
The word “capo” comes from Italian, meaning “head.” A guitar capo is a device that goes over the guitar strings, and its purpose is to put your guitar in another tuning. This makes it easier to sing a song in a key that fits your voice. Many singers find it difficult playing a song in standard tuning. It’s one of the top guitar accessories you should have in your guitar case.
When you place it on your guitar, you create a new nut which changes the tuning of your instrument. Think of the capo as a moveable nut. It shortens the length of your guitar strings, which raises the pitch. The pitch changes as you move it to new fret locations.
You can play the same open position chords you normally play when you have the capo on the pitch of those chords changes so the song is within your vocal range.
Why Use a Guitar Capo?
When looking for the best guitar capo for your guitar, it’s important to understand the various uses for that capo. You have several options in terms of how you play guitar with a capo. These are outlined for you below:
Change the Key of a Song
The fundamental reason for using a capo is that you’ll change the key of a song. This means you can play the song in your own vocal range. As you move it, you go up one-half step in pitch. For example, say the song is in the key of C. You play C chords in the key of C as normal in the open position. The singer needs the song in D to sing along.
Take the capo and place it at the 2nd fret. You are now in D. Simply play the C chords as normal, but the song’s pitch is now in D. You can move it up and down until you find a key that works for your voice.
This Guide will show you how chords changes work with a capo:
- C chord Capo 2nd fret = D chord
- D chord Capo 2nd fret = E chord
- E chord Capo 1st fret = F chord
- G chord Capo 2nd fret = A chord
- A chord Capo 2nd fret = B chord
- Dm chord Capo 2 fret = Em chord
- Em chord Capo 1st fret = Fm chord
- Am chord Capo 2nd fret = Bm chord
So, to keep it simple. If you play a “C” chord and use a capo at the 2nd fret, this puts the song in D so the singer can sing in D.
You Want a Different Sound
Another reason to use a capo is it gives you a different sound. It makes the music brighter. It has a “mandolin” type sound to it. When the capo is quite high, you’ll notice this distinct sound even more. You can create unique sounds just by using it at whatever fret you want. Try experimenting with one and see what you can come up with.
Easier to Play Some Songs
Some songs require complex barre chords that you may not be ready for. By using a capo, you can play songs in keys by using open chords and not barre chords. This makes keys that are difficult to play easier for your fingers.
Types of Capo
When looking for the best guitar capo, it’s important to know the various capo types.
This type of capo uses a strap. The strap goes around the guitar neck, and it’s held together with a bar. This is then tightened and goes against the strings. It’s easy to use and inexpensive. On the downside, but they can slip around a little bit and you have to adjust them more often.
The toggle capo works like a regular strap one. To tighten your strap, you pull on a toggle and this will snap the capo tight. This is much like a latch on a box. The advantage of this one is that it’s inexpensive. On the downside, the toggle mechanism tends to bring the strings out of tune more often.
Trigger or C Clamp Capo
The trigger or C-clamp capo works like a regular clip. You squeeze the handle on the Capo, and it opens up. You didn’t place this or the strings at the front you want. The clamps down over the strings and stays tight in place. This one is unlikely to move around once it is on the fretboard. You squeeze the handle again to remove the capo.
The spring capo is a bit more sophisticated than the trigger one. There is a spring that engages when you clamp down on the strings. It tends to hold it in place a bit better. On the downside, there are still intonation problems. This tends to occur with all capos, and it’s something you have to live with.
Some acoustic guitar players that use a lot of alternate tunings, like the partial capo. This doesn’t go across all of the strings. It might only go across three of the strings. It helps with different tunings complex chords. This capo is not that common.
Best Capo for Electric Guitar
The C-clamp is the best capo for electric guitar. It’s very easy to use. all you do is squeeze the clamp and then put this between the frets. It’s simple to put on as well as take off. There are no straps, buttons, or other complicated parts with the C-clamp. It’s often called a “trigger” capo. The spring one is also another solid choice.
Best Capo for Acoustic Guitar
The best capo for an acoustic guitar is probably the trigger and spring capo are good choices, too. This one is the easiest one to use out of all of them. You might want to go with the toggle or strap capo if you prefer. I find the trigger the easiest to use for both types of guitars.
- Place the capo between the frets. it won’t work if you place it on the frets.
- It should be halfway between the frets
- Tune your guitar before you put the capo on
- You may need to retune your guitar several times when using a capo
- Try several types until you find one that you like
Best Guitar Capos
This capo from Kyser requires you to tune your guitar less often as it has less tension. Anyone can use it as it’s simple to operate. It’s perfect for both acoustic guitars and electric guitars. It’s easier to squeeze than the regular Kyser Quick-Change Capo. It’s made out of strong aluminum, which is lightweight.
This capo has a steel spring for added stability. If your guitar has lower action, this is the ideal product for you. It is guaranteed for life and it’s made in the USA. This is the best capo for those that like things simple.
This capo by Donner will last you a long time. It’s made with a high-quality zinc alloy, which is lightweight. This is an aircraft-grade metal. it’s the perfect solution for both acoustic and electric guitars. The pad for it is made with silicone so your instrument won’t suffer damage when you put the device on.
You don’t get any fret buzz with this capo, and you have excellent intonation. It’s easy to move it from one position to the other with one hand. This makes it easy to change songs on stage. The steel spring for this capo gives you just enough pressure and keeps it secure on your instrument.
Jim Dunlop made his first capo at home in 1965. This laid the foundation for the many accessories that the Jim Dunlop company produces. The Dunlop 14F is professionally made and nickel-plated. It’s going to last you a long time due to its durability. Another plus with this Dunlop product is that it doesn’t cost you a whole lot of money when compared to similar capos.
The strap for this capo is adjustable and easy to put on your guitar. It’s sleek and ergonomic, so it doesn’t hinder your fingers while you are playing. It’s the ideal product if you want to do complex finger work. It won’t scratch up your guitar neck. If you have a flat radius fretboard, it’s the ideal table for this type of guitar. There are different models of this one available if you happen to have a guitar that this particular model doesn’t fit. The product is made in the USA.
In my opinion, the best capo for electric and the best capo for an acoustic guitar is the Planet Waves NS Artist. This product is perfect for both acoustic and electric guitars. It’s unique because it has a micrometer tension adjustment. This ensures that the strings stay buzz-free and in tune at each fret. it’s easy to hold because of the way the capo is made.
You get even clamping attention, so then it doesn’t move around. It’s made with aircraft-grade aluminum. This material is lightweight. Another plus with the product is that it has an integrated pick holder. You can easily grab another pic while you were playing your guitar from this device. you also get a bracket that will hold a micro tuner. It gives you three tools in one.
This capo is perfect for both acoustic and electric guitars. It also works with instruments such as mandolins, banjos, and others. It’s easy to use with one hand. This won’t disturb the tuning. It has a quick and simple release. It’s made with a zinc alloy, which is a premium grade, so it is both durable and long-lasting.
The capo keeps your guitar protected as it has silicone pads. It’s easy to take it with you wherever you go. It comes with its own carrying pouch. You also get an instruction manual that shows you how to use this product. The spring mechanism has a lifetime warranty. If you’re looking for a simple, no-nonsense capo, this one by Nordic Essentials is the product for you.
Of all the capos in this guide, I like the Planet Waves NS Artist the best. I would consider it the best guitar capo out of the five reviewed. The reason for this is the extra tension ability. A capo can be difficult to adjust in the way you wanted. This one changes all that. You can make adjustments you need until it fits your guitar the way you want. Other products on the market that don’t have this type of adjustment.
The downside to this product it does have a couple of smaller parts which you may lose. There is a place for a pick which is ideal when you’re on stage. That is another unique feature I like about it. This one works for both acoustic as well as electric guitars.
All the other products on this list would also make excellent options. I feel that the Planet Waves NS artist is superior to the other ones because of that extra tuning adjustment. You should experiment with capos until you find one that meets your needs. This is a guitar accessory that is more of a personal choice than anything else.