Anatomy of Guitar Capo: The Ultimate Guide [2021]

The first-time beginner using a guitar capo is definitely a doubting experience. With plenty of options available online, Do you really need one? and can you pass without using a capo at all?

In this guide, I’ll cover everything you would want to know about guitar capo in a very simple language:

Guitar Capo: The Ultimate Guide

What is Capo?

The capo is a little clamp that can be used with any string instrument which has a fretboard.

The main function of the capo is to shorten the length of the string which in effect creating a new nut. Due to this, all the open strings play on the higher pitches and gives you a brighter tone.

It is a great device for those who find difficulties while playing more complex guitar chords. The capo help to hold all the strings and acts the same as your index finger act while playing the barre chords.

Do I Need a Guitar Capo?

A guitar capo is needed only when the song required open chords. It gives a brighter sound, allows to change the keys, and makes the chords easier to play. But it is not necessary to use a capo as any song can be played in any key.

I don’t know why some guitarists think that the capos are a crutch. Just go through the following points and you will get to know why capo is so important and why should you use a capo:

1. Gives You a Brighter Sound and Tone

By placing the capo on the neck of your guitar, the guitar gives you a brighter, better, and sweeter sound. It sounds more like a mandolin. The capo helps to increases the volume of your guitar and makes the sound more awesome.

The capo provides you delicate tone which can be very attractive. It creates an amazing kind of tone and adds a different flavor to your guitar.

2. Helps to Deal With the Sore Fingers

If you are a person with a sore finger then the capo will definitely help you. As we know, the tension on the strings on the first fret is relatively higher.

By using the capo anywhere above the first fret will decrease the pressure and tension on the strings. So you don’t need to press the strings as hard as before.

This means you can easily fret the note by using a little amount of pressure which will not only avoid the soreness of your finger but also allow you to play the guitar for a longer time.

3. Help to Change the Key of the Song

Most people use the capo because it allows you to shift the key of the tone quickly and easily which suits the singer’s voice or the song.

So, you can easily change the key to higher or lower by just moving the capo. Capo should be adjusted at any fret by simply sliding it until you find the perfect key for your vocal range.

4. Makes the Chords Easier to Play

When we move the capo in the upward direction, the frets come closer to each other. Due to this, while playing chords you don’t need to stretch your fingers frequently. It also helps to open up a wide range of possible voices with are not possible otherwise.

By putting the capo on the 3rd fret gives you different chords at the same position. In short, Capo makes the chords open which makes the songs easier to play.

5. Give Rest to Your Left Hand

When you play barre chords on your guitar, after some time your left hand may get tired. During your performance, you have to play the guitar for a lot of time. It means all the time your left hand couldn’t get rest.

If you have long sessions and you don’t want to get your fretting hand paining, so listen to me, start using a capo. It helps to avoid the stain on your hand.

But remember, as a beginner the strain on your left hand is a must. If your hand is too tired from playing barre chords, then it may create a problem in the future.

A lot of popular songs are a bit difficult to play without a capo. There are some specific sounds and if you want to produce them as the original songs, then the capo is a must.

I know that it is possible to play any song in any key. But you don’t get exactly the same sound because the specific songs can be performed in particular keys only.

How to Use a Guitar Capo?

First of all, you have to open the capo and place it on the fret of your guitar. You can easily slide it on the neck in any direction to get the desired fret and then close it down. As a learner, you can put the capo on the first to the third fret.

Now tighten the capo with an adjustable screw. Make sure that the capo must be tightened near the edge of the fret which is close to the guitar body. If you place it in the middle of the fret it may result in buzzing.

Types of Capos

Here I listed the varieties of capos:

1. Strap capo:

It is made up of rubber with an elastic band. The elastic band goes around the neck and holds the string which helps to make the strings shorter in length. But this capo is a little clumsy.

2. Trigger style capo:

It is one of the most popular capo types due to its simplicity and ease of use. You just need to press the trigger and place it on any fret you want. This capo allows you to change the keys quickly in the middle of your performance.

The only problem with this type of capos is that the tension is not adjustable which may cause a tuning issue

3. Schubb deluxe capo:

In this type of capos, the tension can be adjusted which allows you to find the perfect amount of pressure at a required fret.

These capos come with a screw and clamp. By losing the screw, you can put the capo on the desired fret. Now close the clamp and tighten the screw until you get a clear note.

It takes a time to get clear notes with perfect pressure which is the drawback of this type of capos.

4. Trigger style with adjustable tension capo:

This capo type avoided the drawback of the trigger type. It is just like a trigger-style capo with an adjustable screw to find the right tension.

5. Cradle capo:

These capos are horseshoe in shape with a bar on them. Horseshoe shape goes around the back of the neck and the bar holds down the strings. They are provided with an adjustable nut.

There are some capos which are designed to create alternate tuning like the Spyder capo, drop tuning capo, etc.

What is the Best Guitar Capo?

If you finally decide to buy a new capo, so here I listed the best acoustic and electric guitar capo.

Kyser Quick-Change Capo is one of the best capos for your acoustic guitar. It is easiest to use at an affordable price. You can parks it on the guitar headstock when not in use. It is strong, lightweight, reliable, and has a guaranteed life.

For your electric guitar, I would like to suggest the Shubb S1 Guitar Capo due to its smooth action and adjustable tension screw. This capo comes with a new roller design that helps to resist wear.

Is Capo Bad for Guitar?

Using the capo may result in damage to the neck finishing at the back if you overtight it. Although it doesn’t affect the fretboard, but if you leave the capo on the guitar for a long time or keep using it on the same fret, then the fret may get a very small degree of wear.

To avoid excessive wear at the same fret, you can simply vary the chord voicing or keep the fret dressed. You will protect your guitar by keeping the capo clean and by avoiding bending strings.

Except that the capo is not bad for your guitar. If you placed the capo properly and use it properly, then there will be no issue 🙂

Should a Beginning Guitar Player Learn to Use a Capo?

As a beginner, it is not necessary to learn to use a capo. Capo provides a shortcut to play barre chords, which hinders the development of your fretting hand. But if you are mostly into singing, you can start using a capo from the beginning.

So, it totally depends on what a guitarist what to do with the guitar.

A beginner guitar player has a lot to learn. How to hold a guitar? How to tune it properly? How to strum it? So, there are too many things that you need to master before you learn to use a capo.

If you really want to use a capo then simply learn the guitar, learn the barre chords then you are free to use what you want.

Is Playing With a Capo Cheating?

Using a guitar capo is not cheating as it helps to enhance the performance and output. Although some guitar players use capo instead of learning to play barre chords, which hinders their progress.

I would call them lazy!

But there is no cheating in music and especially in guitar. In my opinion, a capo is just a tool like amplifiers, picks, straps, etc. It helps to make the guitar playing and its composition easier. Capo act as a new nut and nothing else.

Just tell me, is it wrong to make your performance better? is it wrong to make your guitar playing easier? Does use technology means cheating?

If you know that the capo makes your performance better and still, you are not using it, then it would be foolish. As a listener, I don’t care if you are using a capo or not. All I want is good music and that’s it.

Do Professionals Use Capos?

It totally depends on the music style. Acoustic finger stylists and Flamenco guitarists use capos frequently. While rock and classical guitarists prefer them sometimes. Jazz guitarists never use them as they don’t require open chords.

The capos come into fashion from the past ten years. Before that, the capos put the guitar out of the tune. So, everyone is preferred to learn the different chords rather than using the capos. That’s why most professional guitarists don’t prefer capos.

Over the past few years, many changes are made. Due to the changes, the capos can be easily put on a guitar, it can be easily adjusted without changing the tuning and affecting the guitar tone.

So, nowadays many professionals are using a capo. Tony Rice, David Grier,  Chet Atkins, Albert Collins, Richard Thompson, James Taylor, and many more famous professionals prefer a capo during their performance.

Can You Play Guitar Without a Capo?

As a beginner, you may also be stuck at what if I don’t have a capo?

Yes, you can play the guitar without a capo, and nothing bad will happens. It may little harder but not impossible. Only you need to learn how to play barre chords which may be difficult for some beginners.

The capo makes the chords open and allows you to change the key according to your song. If you play the guitar using the same chord shape in the first position and also barre chords at the correct place on the fretboard, it will be possible to play a particular song on your guitar without a capo.

Also by transposing chords you may get a preferred key. The problem that arises without a capo is that the guitar may sound lower. But if you are singing with tabs and required lower key, then it’s perfect.

What Can I Use Instead of a Capo?

If you don’t have a capo, then instead of it you can use pencils and rubber bands. You can easily make a homemade capo using 1 rubber band and 1 pencil. Here is the procedure.

To know more about capo you can visit Wikipedia.

Final Thoughts on Guitar Capo

Overall the capo has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is a great tool that helps beginners as well as pro players. If you used it properly, then it definitely bangs your performance without damaging your guitar.

I hope your all doubts are clear. If you have any queries, then let me know in the comment section. Also, share this article with your guitar friends and family.

Have a great day!

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