Capos have long been used on stringed-instruments to give musicians the ability to raise pitch and change key. This allows guitarists to explore unique keys, and can even make chord-progressions easier to play. Most capos will come in varying shapes, sizes, designs, and strength – so it is important to decide which type of capo will suit your needs best. Consider this your guide to the best guitar capos.
Types of Guitar Capos
Spring capos are the most popular capos on the market today.
This simple design allows for fast removal and placement of the capo compared to other designs, and can even be moved with just one hand. A drawback of the Spring capo is you are not able to adjust tension like you are on the Screw-On capo.
However, if you choose a Spring capo with proper tension (as we’ve listed below), they are some of the best guitar capos for amateurs and professionals alike.
Screw-on capos are for the guitarist who wants total control over tension. This allows you to really get the best sound possible out of the guitar while using a capo. Sometimes a capo with too much tension can de-tune your notes, and too little tension can create buzz. However, the HUGE drawback from Screw-on capos is the amount of time it takes to unscrew, and then screw it back on – all while trying to find the perfect tension. Making Screw-on capos not ideal for live performances.
This might be the first you’re hearing of Roll-on capos, and you wouldn’t be alone.
These capos only have a cult following – but the few swear by it. Roll-on capos can roll from one key to the next with ease (even just pushing it with your thumb!), and can be rolled up past the nut if you want to play in standard tuning.
I personally don’t use a Roll-on capo, but I have to admit – they are pretty cool. Just be sure to be careful when you are removing it because the spring can unload and wack your guitar – potentially scratching it.
Strap capos are tightened with a strap that contains several notches. They are a cheap, and light alternative to the rest of the capos listed. However, their major drawback comes from a lack of durability, because eventually the strap stretches which can cause breaking in the long run.
Strap capos are a good idea for a camping trip, but leave them off the stage.
Partial capos are just that – they cover only a few strings, which give the guitarist the ability to play in a key that might be difficult to get to quickly without the capo.
Best Guitar Capos
The Kyser KG6B is not only my favorite capo, but a favorite of many guitarists around the world. Simple, reliable, and durable – what more do you need?
In addition, the Kyser has perfect tension, which is an important factor when choosing a Spring capo. That being said, it’s important to always take a second to adjust this capo properly to make sure no strings are being bent, which can lead to possible de-tuning.
The Kyser KG6B is the industry standard when it comes to capos.
Cons: Slow to switch fret
The G7th has it’s own patented design that sets it apart from all other capos.
This unique capo uses a ‘clutch’ system that tightens as you squeeze it down, and releases using the lever on the back. Another feature of the G7th is its small and sleek design. Unlike other capos, the G7th won’t get in the way like many bulky and cumbersome capos.
Despite all of this (and despite MANY guitarists swearing by it), I just never could get fully behind the G7th for my own needs. I felt it was too difficult to switch between frets, and took me too long to find my ‘sweet spot’.
However, the G7th rightly deserves a spot on this list because of its quality and reliable build, as well as its popularity with many guitarists.
Planet Waves NS
Pros: Even pressure
Cons: Slow to adjust
The Planet Waves NS is a simple and elegant screw-on capo that delivers every time.
Like all screw-on capos, you can adjust the tension of the NS to your exact needs. The NS does a good job of applying even pressure across the fret board, which limits buzz and gets the very best sound out of your guitar and capo. Furthermore, The NS has a small and simple design that won’t get in the way while you’re playing.
Our only complaint about the Planet Waves NS is the inability to mount the capo on your head stock like you would with other capos. This allows you to keep your capo on ‘standby’ if you ever needed it quickly. But that is a minor complaint at best, for such a quality capo.
Pros: Fast adjusting
The GL-1 is a really spectacular capo that few know about.
Its unique design allows for truly even pressure distribution because it is pulling down on BOTH ends of the fret, and not just one like other capos. The benefits of this capo don’t stop there – it’s super easy to switch frets because all you have to do is push it up or down the fret board with your thumb. In addition, if you want to play without a capo all you have to do is push it all the way up the neck past the nut where it can rest.
The GL-1 works well with almost all guitars, but you may run into tension issues with large necked guitars like classical guitars.
We highly recommend the Glider GL-1.
Cons: Adjusting tension
The Dunlop 11C is a nickel-plated strap on capo that can fit both flat and curved fret boards.
The 11C is a no-frills capo that works if you’re willing to take a moment to set it in place. We wouldn’t advise you to use this capo on stage, but for around the house or campfire it will serve it’s purpose. And at such an incredibly low price-point it’s hard to complain.
Key Features to Look for in a Guitar Capo
Price: Luckily, some of the best capos are only around the $20 mark. So unlike a lot of other musical equipment – price does not necessarily determine quality.
Pressure/Tension: Probably one of the most important features in a guitar capo, even pressure and proper tension is key to making the best guitar capos.
Size: It may not be your first concern when picking a capo, but big and bulky capos can get in the way when you’re playing – especially on stage.
Durability: Equipment that lasts and can take a beating is always what’s important to musicians. All of the capos listed can stand the test of time.