Although the humble little guitar capo is little more than a simple clamping device used to help you with playing the guitar, its design and overall feel can play a major part in determining how comfortable you feel while playing the guitar.
Why do we need capos?
A capo can be used to make the fingering of certain chords easier, or it can be used to transpose a song up until a whole or half step. While choosing a capo for your guitar, it is important to select a design that evenly distributes pressure along each fret on your guitar, especially if your guitar happens to have a curved neck design. In order to prevent the strings from buzzing, they need to be held tightly, but you must also make sure that the clamping mechanism on your capo isn’t pulling the strings out of tune. A good guitar capo only needs to be adjusted once, and it just sits there until you finish playing, or require a re-adjustment of tone. Bad guitar capos keep slipping, or require constant readjustment and ultimately end up being more of a distraction then actual help.
In order to help you make the right choice, we have lined up some of the best capos for acoustic and electric guitars, in order of low to high price. Each of these capos has been thoroughly tested to find any flaws in design, and the consumer reviews have also been taken into consideration while selecting the respective capos.
Dunlop 11C Advanced Toggle CapoPro: Easily fits any guitar neck, nickel plated
Con: Subtle adjustment is not possible
Due to its strap-on design the Dunlop 11C capo is incredibly easy to slide up and down on the neck of any guitar and it will also fit all types of classical and acoustic models, as well as electric guitars. The adjustment of tension is done by sliding the strap inwards or outwards, to increase or decrease the tension. The design poses one major problem- you can only adjust the tension in discreet, fixed increments of one notch at a time. This means that even though adjustment and repositioning are fairly simple and fast, the actual adjustment itself is not very precise.
Planet Waves NS Guitar CapoPro: Allows for really fine adjustments, aircraft grade aluminum construction
Con: Any adjustment requires you to unscrew the capo and reinstall it
Since this is a screw operated guitar capo, it allows for very, very precise tension adjustment. In fact, it is designed to offer micrometer grade precision, and the knob is conveniently located on top of the tension arm so you can turn it clockwise or anticlockwise to push the arm in or out depending on how much tension you need. The entire body is constructed from aircraft grade aluminum and feels sturdy as well as lightweight. The rubber pads are definitely better than the ones you’ll find on cheaper capo models, as they are soft and don’t scratch the guitar neck.
Kyser KG6B 6 String CapoPro: Very fast and easy to remove or reposition, easy for flipping the string tuning
Con: On the fly tension adjustment is hard
This is a unique clamp style guitar capo that is rather well built considering its price, and the rubber pads are very durable so you won’t have to worry about them leaving impressions on your guitar after anytime soon. Adjusting all six strings should be fairly simple, just remove the clamp and re-adjust its tension. You can comfortably slide this capo up and down with just one hand, and it will flip around instantly within seconds so you can change your entire string configuration on the fly.
xGuitarx X1 Guitar Capo for Acoustic and Electric GuitarsPro: Easy to move or reposition, suitable for one-handed operation
Con: Large and obtrusive footprint
Despite its somewhat oversized clamp arms and the thick clamps, the X1 is a solid option for anyone with a larger guitar or just large hands in general. It is suitable for both 6 and 12 string models and comes with a full metal construction that feels premium. String adjustment is fairly simple, since it is basically a clamp style design and will easily open or close with just one hand. You can remove it from the bag and clamp it one within seconds, which is a great feature for gigging guitarists.
Dunlop 83CB Acoustic Trigger CapoPro: Padded spring-action grip, aircraft grade aluminum construction
Con: Does not fit comfortably on certain guitars
This is probably one of the most well-constructed guitar capos when it comes to overall design and quality. The entire body is made from machined aircraft grade aluminum which is extremely durable and prevents the clamp arms from flexing or bending over time with the application of load. The heavy duty springs hold the pressure well, and allow you to get the desired amount of tension with a flick of the lever. There are padded grips to keep the finish on your guitar neck safe, and the clamps stay put once you lock them into place.
Shubb Deluxe Series GC-30 (S1) capoPro: Locking and removing is very easy, soft rubber padding on clamp and lever arms
Con: Designed primarily for steel string guitars with 6 strings
Shubb impressed everyone with their unique guitar capo design which is much easier to remove, reposition, and adjust, compared to traditional clamp or screw based designs. The GC-30 capo is one of their latest and greatest offerings, featuring a super secure and easy to operate locking system that is very easy to adjust with even one hand. Within seconds you can re-clamp, adjust, and balance the tension across all the 6 strings. While it does not support 12-string guitars, the design concept and build quality still make it a great option for electric as well as guitar players who use metal strings.
Paige P6E 6-String Guitar CapoPro: Very balanced tensions, no string muting or buzzing
Con: Rubber sleeve might be a little too soft for some people
The P6E 6-string guitar capo features a special string clamp that evenly presses down on all strings with zero variance in pressure (well, nearly zero) that results in complete elimination of those buzzing sounds that occur when your strings are not properly tuned. The body is made from aluminum and is really lightweight, it has some really soft rubber padding to clamp down on the guitar neck, and the non-slip surface prevents it from sliding around. The rubber sleeve might be a little too soft for some people who might prefer a harder and more resistant padding.
Kava Audio Capo for Acoustic GuitarPro: Heavy duty memory steel spring, high-density silicone padding
Con: Stickers on the side may fall off over time
If we take a look at all the guitar capos on this list, then this one is hands down the most well-built and smoothly designed of any capo on this list. It is designed to last an entire lifetime, quite literally, as Kava provides a lifetime replacement warranty on the capo if you ever face a manufacturing defect or if something breaks down over time. The entire body is made from heavy gauge aluminum, with chrome accents on some areas. A heavy duty stainless steel memory spring ensures that the capo stays put once you clip it on, and the tension arm will not budge once you set it down. Memory springs are known to retain their original shape much longer than conventional springs, and this will definitely help you achieve perfect open tuning across all your strings no matter which guitar you use. Seriously, the only design flaw we found was the stickers.
Creative Tunings SpiderCapo StandardPro: Designed to fit any guitar, easy to open tune, very fast adjustment
Con: Need to adjust the pegs for each individual string
The SpiderCapo uses an interesting concept, it combines the two most loved aspects of a screw capo and a clamp style capo into one unique device that is both easy to fit as well as comfortable to tune. The cylindrical body features a clamp on either side, and both these clamps are controlled by a screw-driven knob which is used to adjust the amount of force that they apply on the guitar body. The construction is not metal, although it does feature high-quality steel springs as well as quality rubber pads.