The Best Capos For Guitar

The Highest Rated Capos

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The guitar capo is often used to play first position chords higher up the fretboard, functioning like the transpose button of keyboards. Experienced musicians get a bit more out of the capo by using it to expand their creativity and sonic palette, resulting in distinct guitar lines. As such, the capo continues to be standard issue accessory for guitarists, regardless of skill level and experience.

With so many capos flooding the market, we have taken it upon ourselves to narrow down your choices to just the elite few. Here we present the best capos for guitar, based on actual user ratings and feedback, including the more recent data up to late August 2021.

We provide noteworthy information on each of the featured capos, along with summaries of their pros and cons based on actual reviews. For this 2021 edition, we decided to focus specifically on capos that work well with guitars, including those that work great with 12-string acoustic and electric guitars.

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

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Best 6 String Guitar Capos

WinGo JX-09 Guitar Capo

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 21450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$8
WinGo JX-09 Guitar Capo

The JX-09 Guitar Capo by WinGo is a value-priced option 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, ukulele

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 string 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.

Shubb C1 Standard - Nickel

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 4000+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$16
Shubb C Series Standard Steel String Guitar Capo - Nickel

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, Nylon String 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 drawback of 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 the 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.

Guitarx X3

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 2400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$19
Guitarx X3 Capo

Guitarx is a music accessory company founded in 2014.

The Guitarx X3 is their latest offering and is the most popular as of this edition's publication.

Made with Aluminum alloy with an external steel memory spring trigger clamping mechanism, it's as simple as it gets.

Features

  • Clamping Mechanism: Steel memory spring trigger
  • Materials: Aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, silicone padding
  • Tension Adjustment: none
  • Suitable for: 6-string Acoustic Guitar

Pros

One major pro that users seldom fail to mention is the build quality. A few have said that the build quality rivals that of well-known brands. The clamping force is well suited for instruments with small frets as the pressure prevents string buzz.

Cons

A downside often noted with the clamping force is that instruments with taller or larger frets have their strings clamped too hard that they go sharp.

Overall

The X3 Capo by Guitarx is a popular pick for its great build quality, value, and clamping force. Be aware that if your instrument has tall frets, the clamping force may be too much.

Shubb S1 Deluxe

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 3250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$19
Shubb Deluxe S Series Steel String Capo

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Capo for 6-String Guitars - for the second year in a row!

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, Nylon String and Electric guitars

Pros

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

D'Addario NS Tri-Action PW-CP-09

95
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$22
D'Addario Planet Waves NS Tri-Action Capo - Black

The D’Addario Planet Waves NS Tri-Action is a trigger-style capo with built-in tension adjustment, allowing you to enjoy the convenience of one-hand clamping on the fretboard, while having the ability to adjust the tension to match the string height and gauge of your guitar.

Using this capo is as simple as grabbing the trigger portion to open the clamp and positioning it on the fretboard. You can then turn the thumbscrew to make the necessary tension adjustments.

Note that you need to apply just the right amount of tension to prevent string buzz, too much tension may cause intonation issues.

To avoid losing the capo when not in use, some clamp their capos on the headstock, note that we do not recommend doing this on expensive guitars.

Finally, it has a nifty pick holder built-in, for even more convenience.

Features

  • Clamping Mechanism: Clamp with Micrometer Tension Adjustment
  • Materials: Aircraft-Grade Aluminum
  • Tension Adjustment: Screw
  • Suitable for: 6-string Acoustic, Nylon String and Electric guitars

Pros

A lot of users describe this as the "best" capo that they've ever used, and this includes experienced musicians that have tried many different ones. And the main reason they love this is because it is easy to use and it works, thanks to its combination of quick spring-based clamping convenience and tension control. Many also commend its durability, and reliability, which is important especially for those who regularly perform.

Cons

There are a few who are turned off by its reverse style trigger grip. Also note that compared to a c-clamp style capo, the thumbscrew has a limited range of tension adjustment.

Overall

The D'Addario NS Tri-Action Capo gives you the best of both worlds, so to speak, and with its high ratings, it is definitely worth looking into.

Best 12 String Guitar Capos

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. Some 12-string capos produce too much force for a 6-string instrument, causing the strings to go out of tune.

Kyser 12-String Guitar Capo - Black

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 1200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$20
Kyser 12-String Guitar Capo - Black

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Capo for 12-String Guitars - for the second year in a row!

Kyser capos are ubiquitous for their affordability and how easy they are to find.

While the design is simple, many regard Kyser capos highly for their overall utility.

Features

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

Pros

Many pleased 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 playability and tone.

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, so be wary if you have a high action setup.

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.

D'Addario Pro Capo PW-CP-02

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 1250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$20
D'Addario NS Capo Pro - Black

12 strings guitars require more tension than what conventional quick-release capos can provide. This is where the c-clamp design of the D'Addario PW-CP-02 Pro comes in, it fastens securely via a clamp mechanism and lets you apply just the right amount of tension on the strings.

Using this capo is as easy as positioning it on the fret you want, and tightening the mechanism.

This means that you have better control of the tension the capo is applying, and you don't have to worry about accidentally unfastening the capo because it is secured via a clamp.

The downside to this design is that it will take some time to release the capo and to refasten it when you want to move your capo to a different fret.

Features

  • Clamping Mechanism: C-clamp Thumbscrew
  • Materials: Ultra-light Aerospace Grade Aluminum
  • Tension Adjustment: Thumbscrew
  • Suitable for: 6-string / 7-string / 8-string / guitars of all types

Pros

Owners are pleased at how well this capo works for many different guitars, including 12-string and even 8-string baritone ones. Experienced musicians describe it as being superior to others that they tried, especially when it comes to keeping the guitar in-tune and without fret buzz. There are also a lot of positive remarks regarding its lightweight yet durable design. Finally, it gets a lot of thumbs up for being affordable considering its versatility.

Cons

The main limitation to its c-clamp design is that it takes time and effort to fasten and loosen. There are a few who aren't too happy with its thin frame and lightweight design. Note that the shape of this capo may not be a good match for some guitars with slimmer necks, some users also caution that this capo may cause finish damage on the back of the neck when set up too tight, or when accidentally moved without loosening the clamp.

Overall

If you're looking for a lightweight c-clamp type capo that can handle different guitar types, then check out the D'Addario Pro.

Things to Consider Before You Buy A Capo

To find the best guitar capo for your instrument, there are a few things you will need to know. The sections below outline some key things to keep in mind before you make a purchase.

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 pros and cons, so it’s important to know the difference between them before you commit to buying anything.

Example of a Trigger Capo

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.

Example of a C-Clamp Capo

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 type 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..

Example of a Partial Capo

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 might 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

Ukuleles usually don't have any 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 ukuleles, 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, they 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 don’t need to drop a lot of cash to get a good capo. You can get a perfectly functional capo for under $20. 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

The first edition was published in 2017 and the current edition was published on August 26, 2021.

After examining all the widely available and popular capos available at major American music gear stores, we put the most promising 25 models on our short-list for closer examination - you can see most of them in the Music Gear Database. We then gathered relevant reviews, ratings, videos, and forum comments that discuss them, including the most recent ones up to late August of 2021. This also entailed the gathering of 60,400 sources, more than twice the amount of sources compared to the previous edition. All these data were then processed via the Gearank Algorithm to produce our rating scores out of 100 which we used to select the highest-rated ones to recommend above. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.

Contributors

Alden Acosta: Product research.
Mason Hoberg: Supplemental writing.
Raphael Pulgar: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Original photograph by James Kim, modified by Gearank.com, and both the original and modified versions are available for anyone to copy and modify under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

Your article looks good but

Your article looks good but it doesn't show specific capo's (or their sizes) for ukuleles. They are all guitar capos that can be used on ukuleles. The main problem is that guitar capos are nearly always too big for ukuleles therefore don't sit or fit right. I have 2 questions - 1) Are there any specific ukulele capos? and 1) Will the Wingo JX-09 fit a small ukulele / what size is it?

I've found a cheap PLASTIC

I've found a cheap PLASTIC guitar capo best for my uke as it weighs so little. Metal capos make your guitar a little neck heavy and your Uke very neck heavy! A plastic spring capo is great.

For ukulele players, this is

For ukulele players, this is just a clickbait waste of time. You should be embarrassed that you can’t be bothered to look at ukulele capos, but you can add ukulele words to the page to try and confuse people into reading this unhelpful review page. I won’t be back here again.

There are many capos that are

There are many capos that are designed to be used with both guitars and ukuleles and we have recommended the WinGo JX-09 above which most definitely can be used with ukes.

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.

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.