One of the first tools I picked up for my musicians arsenal was a capo for my guitar. If you’re just starting to play you may have seen other people using them but not known what they are or what they do.
Capos clamp down across the fretboard to essentially shorten the length of the open string available to resonate when strummed or plucked.
Essentially they allow you to change the key of a song while still maintaining the same chord shapes.
Many manufactures make different styles that clamp down, maintain pressure with a spring or wrap around your fretboard.
For most of my guitar playing life I’ve used a spring style capo by Kyser. I really like them because they are easy to change. Sometimes that quick changing is most helpful when you’re actively hunting down the best key for a new song and moving it up and down the fretboard easily.
I also had one where the spring broke and Kyser replaced it quickly under their lifetime warranty. So that’s of note. All the different colors and styles helps too.
At a certain point I picked up the Kyser partial capo to get into dropped D tuning without re-tuning my guitar. I had wanted to experiment with alternate tunings and this seemed like the easiest way to do it. Years went by without it being used much before I learned a few songs that were in dropped D and the capo was useful at gigs to quickly change and play the songs without retuning.
I’ve been doing that for years before recently learning a neat trick... I could have just taken my normal Kyser capo – this doesn't quite work with most other brands – and flipped it upside down to do the same thing!
The rubber is definitely harder on the side touching your frets but I think for a song or two every once in a while it will be just fine. And if nothing else it will allow you to experiment and is a neat little trick.
Recently I had the opportunity to try another style capo, the Glider Capo from Greg Bennett. I wasn’t sure I would like it even though I was really impressed with this video of Greg using it.
Wow right!? The ease of sliding it up and down the neck and being able to use that in your playing was intriguing but I thought the end caps would get in the way of the inside of my chord hand. I tried it out however and it wasn’t in the way at all. Really a great product!
I’ll keep trying it out and maybe one day you will see me using it a song masterfully playing like Greg!
The last capo I want to mention is one I bought for my ukulele. It wraps around the fretboard with an elastic band that has a grommet to hook into the other end of the bolt wrapped with rubber that goes across the top of the fretboard.
I use it for exactly one song in my set on occasion and honestly avoid it otherwise because it’s more trouble than it’s worth. It only setting me back a few dollars on Amazon but is more trouble then it’s worth.
The screw is constantly falling out of the rubber and I’ve even had the whole thing go flying across the stage like a slingshot because it takes two hands to put on and get that elastic around and it slipped through my fingers one day.
I’m all for action on stage but that was too much!
If you need a capo only occasionally, an elastic capo like that is fine but otherwise go with a quick changing spring style capo or a clamp capo if you don’t mind the time needed to change them and want more control over the pressure on your strings.
There you go! Just some of my thoughts on this little tool I use all the time!