If you own a guitar, you likely have a capo — or you will soon be buying one.  I’m not big on capos in performance — even though I have several — because I think using them on a song is a bit of a cheat.  Use a barre chord instead of a capo.  That makes you the master of the fretboard and not a device.  That said, Bob Dylan and Albert Collins are big capo users and they both have certainly had incredible, glorious, careers in music.  The most popular capo is made by Kyser.  It has an elegant, looping, design, and one of its best qualities is that you can use one hand to take it on and off your guitar.

Another popular capo is made by Shubb.  The Shubb capo is much smaller, but heavier than the Kyser, and from a design perspective, you can’t beat the look and feel of the Shubb in your eye and hand.  Unlike the Kyser capo, the Shubb capo requires two hands to clamp it on your guitar.  The Shubb uses an unique lever system that snaps the capo into place with a ringing thud.  Also, unlike the Kyser capo, you can easily drop the Shubb into a shirt pocket for easy carrying.

If you use a capo, you might start to notice a few dings or gouges on the back your guitar’s neck.  In my experience, the Shubb capo was more likely to mar the finish on your guitar neck than the Kyser, just because it takes so much more effort to get the thing clamped over your strings.  The Shubb also needs its screw adjusted for every type of guitar neck you use every time you use it.  The Kyser can auto-adjust to any neck style because it uses a spring mechanism.

I use my capo to check the adjustments I make on my guitar’s truss rod.  I clamp the capo at the first fret and then I have both hands free to measure the string height against the frets.  I couldn’t easily do that clearance test using my hands alone.

Capos are cheap and plentiful — and if you want style over ease, go for the Shubb.  If you want a light capo that’s easy to use with one hand, then the Kyser is your best bet.  Let us know in the comments what you think of using a capo and also tell us about your favorite capo and how you use it.


  1. David,

    Sounds like a neat accessory. I hope to start taking lessons again soon. I will ask my teacher where in the curriculum this will fit. 🙂

    1. I, too, hope you can continue your guitar studies soon. Don’t forget YouTube and Justin Sandercoe — he’ll start you off slow and easy: http://www.justinguitar.com/

      A capo basically lets you play songs in a different key using the same chord shapes you use without a capo. It “changes” the location of your nut by imitation and sitting on a specific fret and barring all the strings for you.

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