The Best Capos For Guitar & Ukulele - Up To 12 Strings

The Highest Rated Capos

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A capo is a must-have accessory for any guitarist. The ability to play different chords in a variety of positions (for example, playing a C chord with a capo on the second fret makes it a D chord) is an invaluable asset to any vocalist or finger-style musician.

The many types and models of capos makes finding the best one for your needs a bit of a challenge. If you’re still not sure which capo is right for you after reading our recommendations, jump to Things to Consider Before You Buy A Capo at the end of the article where we’ll give you all the info you need to make an informed purchase.

The Best Guitar Capos

WinGo JX-09 Guitar Capo

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$8
WinGo JX-09 Guitar Capo

The JX-09 Guitar Capo by WinGo is a value priced capo that offers great quality and aesthetics thanks to its faux wood finish.

Features:

  • Clamping Mechanism: Internal torsion spring trigger
  • Materials: Aluminum alloy (faux wood finish), silicone rubber pad
  • Tension Adjustment: None
  • Suitable for: 6 string steel acoustic and electric guitar, ukelele

Pros

Clamping force is said to be strong by many users. The JX-09 also receives high marks for build quality given the price. Some reviewers note the quality to be better than capos made by bigger brands.

Cons

While the pressure is strong enough to clamp down without fret buzz or tuning issues for steel 6 string guitars, 12 string guitars may need more clamping force or better rubber padding as noted by a few reviewers. Conversely, there are some reports of the clamping force being too strong for nylon guitars, making them go sharp in pitch.

Overall

For the price, the JX-09 Guitar Capo by WinGo is tough to beat. The clamping force may be an issue for some types of guitars but for 6-string steel string acoustic guitars, the capo works like a charm.

Donner DC-2 Guitar Capo

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$8
Donner DC-2 Guitar Capo

Another new entry in this 2019 update, The Donner DC-2 is yet another value oriented capo that scores high on our list.

Features:

  • Clamping Mechanism: Steel spring trigger
  • Materials:Aircraft-grade Zinc alloy, silicone rubber pad
  • Tension Adjustment: None
  • Suitable for: electric and acoustic guitars, 12-string guitars, ukulele, banjo, folk guitars and mandolin

Pros

Reviewers generally praise the quality of the capo given its price. The steel spring helps provide good clamping force to prevent string buzz. 12-string guitar users also note that the capo is wide enough for their instruments.

Cons

A trade-off with the clamping force is the tendency to make notes go sharp. This may be a problem with instruments with taller frets and/or lower action as noted by users with electric guitars that have them.

Overall

If you need a spring-loaded capo with enough tension to clamp down on even the highest of string action, the Donner DC-2 is a good pick especially if you're looking for a budget option. If you use instruments with large frets and low action, the clamping force may be too strong and introduce tuning issues.

Dunlop 83CB Trigger Acoustic Capo

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 1850+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$12
Dunlop 83CB Trigger Acoustic Capo - Black

Based on the number of user reviews and ratings, this was the most popular capo under $15 that was rated highly enough to be included in the 2019 version of this guide.

Features:

  • Clamping Mechanism:Torsion spring trigger
  • Materials: Aircraft-grade aluminum, proprietary material padding
  • Tension Adjustment: none
  • Suitable for: 6-string Acoustic Guitar

Pros

Users love the simplicity of the design paired with solid build quality. This capo is a great fit for younger musicians or those suffering from arthritis because it has a padded handle and an ergonomic shape. This helps to make the capo easier to position because you get more leverage when using it and the padded handle helps to reduce strain on your hand. The 83CB is also one of the more readily available capos on this list.

Cons

There are a couple concerns with this capo. First, the capo bills itself as being for both 6 and 12-string instruments. There’s a reason that there are separate capos for 6 and 12-string instruments. A 12-string guitar requires more pressure than a 6-string guitar, and when you use a 12-string capo on a 6-string guitar it can make your guitar sound out of tune. There are a few reports of this capo exerting too much pressure, although this complaint isn’t present in every review. Second, there are reports of people selling counterfeits of this capo at various online retailers that support 3rd party sellers, so if you go with this capo, verify that it’s an actual Jim Dunlop product or buy from a reputable seller - we've linked to the legitimate version here.

Overall

If you're looking for a brand-name capo with a clamping pressure that's not too strong, the 83CB is a great choice.

Shubb C Series Standard Steel String Guitar Capo - Nickel

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 2950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$17
Shubb C Series Standard Steel String Guitar Capo - Nickel

At the time of publication this was the highest rated capo on the market.

Shubb is an innovator in its industry, because their capos were among the first c-clamp capos to approach the level of utility and ease of use found in a trigger style capo. The Standard series used to use a pointed piece of plastic to tighten the capo against the neck. They introduced the Deluxe at a later time and it used a wheeled mechanism. Because the wheel created such an improvement in performance, Shubb introduced the wheel mechanism into the Standard Series.

Features:

  • Clamping Mechanism: Screw and Roller (proprietary design)
  • Materials: Nickel-plated Brass, Proprietary foam padding
  • Tension Adjustment: Screw
  • Suitable for: 6-string Acoustic and Electric guitars

Pros

This model receives many good reviews because of its simplicity and reliability. The main selling point of this capo is its variable tension mechanism, which helps to reduce tuning problems from the strings being pressed down too hard.

Cons

A draw-back with the design is that it requires two hands to operate, which makes it inconvenient to move mid-set when compared to a trigger style capo. Because of the design the potential exists that if you’re not careful while using this capo you may scratch the finish of your guitar’s neck.

Overall

If you have guitars with different string action, fret height or nut slot depth, the Schubb C Series Capo with its tension adjustment can help you adjust pressure on the strings for each of them without worrying too much about your pitch going sharp. Look elsewhere if you need a capo that you can put on and take off quickly.

Shubb Deluxe Steel String Capo

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$20
Shubb Deluxe S Series Steel String Capo

There isn’t much difference between Shubb’s Standard and Deluxe series. The Deluxe is made of steel while the Standard is made of nickel-plated brass. They also make the Deluxe in America. Apart from that, the two capos are similar in design and function

Features:

  • Clamping Mechanism: Screw and Roller (proprietary design)
  • Materials: Stainless Steel
  • Tension Adjustment: Screw
  • Suitable for: 6-string Acoustic and Electric guitars

Pros

Similar to the C Series, users loved how the tension adjustment keeps the guitar in tune. The capo is also a good long-term investment since it has no springs that may wear out. Users also feel more confident of the long term durability since it is made in the USA.

Cons

People noted that the capo is not a "loosen and slide around the neck" type of capo. It takes more time to adjust it compared to trigger-based designs. As such, capos like this are not recommended for people who use various capo positions during a set.

Overall

If you like the design of the standard C series capo but want something more of a long-term investment that inspires more confidence in durability, the Deluxe is the pick for you.

Kyser 12-String Guitar Capo - Black

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$20
Kyser 12-String Guitar Capo - Black

At the time of publication this was the highest rated 12-string capo on the market.

Kyser capos are ubiquitous for their affordability and how easy they are to find. While the design is simple, many highly regard Kyser capos for their overall utility.

Features:

  • Clamping Mechanism: Torsion spring trigger
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Tension Adjustment: none
  • Suitable for: 12-string Acoustic or Electric guitar

Pros

Many users bought this capo specifically for use on their 12-string guitars as they have found that other trigger-style capos simply do not have the right amount of tension to hold the strings without affecting playbility and tone. The only difference between a 6 and 12-string capo is that a 12-string capo applies tension across a wider surface area and applies more force. While you can use a 6-string capo on a 12-string instrument, it probably won’t have enough tension to allow the strings to ring out. A 12-string capo will likely put too much force for a 6-string instrument, causing the strings to go out of tune.

Cons

The only real draw-back in this design is that, like other trigger capos you can’t adjust the tension. This is less of an issue with 6-string instruments, because the added tension has fewer strings to affect. However with 12-string instruments, tuning issues can be more noticeable.

Overall

If you have a 12-string in your collection, the Kyser 12-string capo is an easy decision. While you can use capos with tension adjustment, the fuss involved with putting them on and off will be a problem in the long run.

Kyser Quick-Change Capo - Black

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 2900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$20

C-clamp capos are great for their flexibility, but dialing in the perfect tension can be a pain. Trigger capos, like the Kyser Quick-Change Capo, offer convenience over utility.

Features:

  • Clamping Mechanism: Torsion spring trigger
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Tension Adjustment: none
  • Suitable for: 6-string Acoustic or Electric guitar

Pros

While the design is often copied and there are capos in the market for less, users looking for a premium trigger-style capo like the Kyser Quick-change capo for its simplicity and long-term durability. In addition, their reviews often note the longevity of the springs and rubber pads; even mentioning how one capo lasted them several years.

Cons

Some note that the spring is too tight, making one-handed operation a chore as well as putting the strings out of tune. If you don't have good grip on your non-dominant hand, it may present some trouble. Proper positioning of the capo is necessary to alleviate some of the tuning problems.

Overall

The Kyser Quick-Change Capo is best for those that want a capo to last. It might be too tight for guitars with higher action at the nut or bigger frets.

Things to Consider Before You Buy A Capo

To find the best guitar capo there’s a few things you will need to know. The sections below outline some key things to keep in mind before you make a purchase. We would encourage you to refer back to this part of the article before you make a final purchase to ensure you have a rough idea of how your capo will perform.

The Types of Capos

There are three main types of capos you will run across: trigger/spring-loaded, C-Clamp/variable tension, and partial. Each type of capo has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to know the difference between them before you commit to buying anything.

Trigger / Spring-Loaded

Trigger capos are the most popular type of capo. You open the capo by squeezing the trigger portion (which compresses the spring), and then when you release the trigger, the spring extends and maintains the capo’s tension.

These capos are easy to use, because all you have to do is squeeze the trigger mechanism to remove and place it. Because they’re so simple, they’re arguably the best capo for beginners. However, unlike C-Clamp capos you can’t adjust the tension. If the capo is too tight, it will make your guitar sound out of tune, and if it’s too loose, it will make your strings buzz.

C-Clamp/Variable Tension

With C-Clamp/Variable Tension capos you manually adjust the tension by turning a thumbscrew. The cool thing about these capos is that you can adjust the tension for your instrument, so you won’t have to re-tune when you use it (again, this depends on the guitar). These capos have a quick release mechanism to release the capo from the neck, though they’re still harder to put on/take off than a trigger capo. A good example of this capo would models by Shubb.

Another benefit of this capo is that it’s easy to use with a nylon string or electric guitar, because you can dial in a tension appropriate for the strings you’re using. Most trigger style capos are designed for acoustic guitar, so they may exert too much pressure for nylon or (most) electric strings.

Partial

Partial capos only cover some strings on an instrument. They’re commonly used by finger-style guitarists to change the notes they can play in the bassline of a piece. These capos aren’t as practical as the other two options, but they’re a good addition to your collection of gear if you’re a finger-style musician.

Which is the best Capo for my instrument?

Best Capo for Acoustic Guitar

Most capos are designed with steel string acoustic guitars in mind so you won't have to worry much about compatibility. Do note that your guitar's setup and action may affect the way the capo interacts with the tuning. Look for a capo that has softer padding or a tension adjuster.

Best Capo for Electric Guitar

Electric guitars make use of thinner gauges of string and lower action. This makes capos with tighter springs problematic since the thinner strings will get sharp in pitch. Opt to choose capos that have lighter springs. Tension-adjustable capos can also be used but may be too inconvenient for live use to put on and remove.

Best Capo for Classical Guitar

Classical guitars have lower string tension and wider fretboards than steel string acoustic guitars. Some capos may not fit the width of the fretboard or exert the right amount of pressure. Some manufacturers offer models specifically for classical guitars so if you find a model of capo you like from our list, you might want to check if the manufacturer also offers a classical guitar alternative.

Best Capo for Ukulele

Ukeleles usually don't have many problems with tuning and tension since their frets are small. Some capo designs have the foam at a specific angle so they might overshoot the strings when positioned incorrectly. This guide has a "Features" section for each capo we've recommended where we indicate whether the product is compatible with ukeleles, so do take note of this when selecting the one to buy.

Best Capo for 12 String Guitar

12-string guitars have wider fretboards and since the strings are doubled up, require more tension to clamp down on the strings. There are capos specific to 12-string but capos with enough width and tension may also be used. Do take note of which ones in our guide are said to exert more pressure - it may be a con for some instruments, but is usually much better when used on 12-string guitars.

Mason Hoberg's Opinion on Buying an Expensive Capo:

This is just a personal opinion so take it as you will, but I don’t think you really don’t need to drop a lot of cash to get a good capo. You can get a perfectly functional capo for around $15 (the Dunlop 83CB capo above is a perfect example of this). When you buy an expensive capo, you’re generally paying for tone retention and a moderate reduction in tuning issues. Capos have a tendency to somewhat reduce the tone of a guitar because they dampen the vibration of strings. However, the difference between a high-end capo and an entry-level one isn’t dramatic enough to justify the increased cost for most beginning musicians.

Best Capo Selection Methodology

This guide was first published on June 23, 2017 written by Mason Hoberg. The latest major revision was published on September 18, 2019 by Raphael Pulgar.

After examining all the widely available and popular capos available at major American music gear stores, we gathered relevant reviews, ratings, videos, and forum comments that discuss them. This resulted in the 24 capos being included on our short-list for further analysis - you can see all of them in the Music Gear Database. We took the information we had gathered from over 15,800 sources and processed it with the Gearank Algorithm to produce ratings out of 100 and selected the highest-rated ones to recommend above. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works.

Comments

I got the G7th, but the

I got the G7th, but the Newport model a few months back and it works great - can't speak to the Performance 2. Using on a Yamaha acoustic.

Hey, you guys missed the best

Hey, you guys missed the best capo made: the Phil Elliott Elite. Nothing comes close to its compactness, workmanship and ability to hug the fret.

We didn't miss Elliott Capos,

We didn't miss Elliott Capos, they didn't meet our availability criteria as listed in the Methodology section above.

For the most part, we don't include boutique brands in our guides, however we'll take your suggestion on-board and we may expand the eligibility criteria when we next revise this category.

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