You may think that there’s not a lot going on with guitar capos as long as you pick one up that fits your guitar, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
To narrow down the best guitar capo for your instrument, you might need to go through an exhaustive list of options and understand some key mechanics behind it.
8 Best Guitar Capos for Any Budget
In this article, I’ll present my top guitar capos and justify my picks while I’m at it. Strap in, or should I say, clamp in for the ride!
Table of Contents
- 8 Best Guitar Capos for Any Budget
- You Need a Capo More than You Know
- Types of Capos
- What’s Nice to Have
The Shubb Deluxe range is among the most recognizable series of guitar capos. The Deluxe S1 is affordable and very durable and will fit most acoustic and electric guitars. It may not be optimal for a 12-string guitar, but it should handle most 6-string guitars.
What’s great about this capo is that it doesn’t require pressure adjustments every time you use it. It also boasts a custom rubber pad that mimics the fingertip feel and pressure. That’ll really help to keep the tuning in check.
The lever action is quite smooth. This makes it easy for both pros and beginners to make quick adjustments anywhere. Moreover, it can also help more inexperienced guitar players set the capo in such a way that it won’t separate the strings too much.
However, this is not the best solution for live gigs. As an adjustable capo, it will require adjusting the tension screw when switching keys or guitars. On the other hand, the Deluxe S1 shines the brightest in rehearsals, studio recording, and practice sessions.
This is the capo that I can heartily recommend if you’re looking to save a few bucks and have something that’s easy to move on the fly. The NS Tri-Action Capo is among D’Addario’s latest trigger-style capos. It’s fully adjustable and perfect for thinner necks and medium to thick guitar strings.
Its main draw? Perhaps the easy one-handed operation. I’d probably go with the micrometer tension adjustment that seems to be more accuracy than anything else in this price range. However, that’s going to have different results with different guitars.
The capo is made of aircraft-grade aluminum. Besides the durability, the material also makes the capo comparatively light and less of a hindrance to your playing style. I also like that the design includes a pick holder, which can be a very useful perk for versatile acoustic musicians.
Due to the adjustability, the D’Addario Tri-Action Capo should work well on just about any fretboard position. Furthermore, it generates little to no buzz, provided that you’re not using the lightest guitar strings around. That said, it’s not designed to handle anything more than 6 strings.
To get a sense of just how versatile the G7th Performance 3 guitar capo is, just think of its ability to fit on both a thin 9” electric guitar as well as on a 16” radius acoustic guitar. But this is not the only thing that makes it a great buy, in spite of the upper price range.
The high quality silicone layer does a good job of protecting the neck when sliding the metal capo up and down the fretboard. The easy-release mechanism and the one-handed squeeze mechanism are also defining features of the Performance 3 capo.
I also like the quality of the string pad. It’s firm but not too tough, with just enough of a dampening effect on the strings to reduce vibrations and unwanted buzzing. At the same time, it won’t separate the strings or mute them when you place the capo in higher positions.
The overall build quality is impressive too. Although it looks fancier than other guitar capos, you should know that this is a solid metal piece, with all-metal release and tension mechanisms.
The Shubb Deluxe S4 capo is a bit of a niche product. It’s specifically designed to fit electric guitars with 7.25” neck radius. Although it offers some level of adjustability, it won’t perform as great on other models. Luckily, there are hundreds of 7.25” radius guitars out there so it may not be a big deal.
I like that the licking mechanism is the same throughout the entire Shubb Deluxe Series – it’s a simple lever flipping action. It’s easy to remove but also locks into place firmly when it’s time to put it to work.
The same custom Shubb rubber pads can be found on both arms of the capo. These will help protect the strings, maintain the tuning and guitar intonation, and prevent possible damage to the back of the neck.
Unlike many of the generic guitar capos, the Dunlop 83CB is padded on the handle in addition to the part that touches the strings. You might find it slightly easier to open at the very least. On the other hand, this thing is not overly adjustable.
In terms of build quality, you can hardly ask for anything more than the Dunlop’s aircraft-grade aluminum and natural rubber padding at this price range. Build quality aside, what makes this guitar capo stand out is its ability to work with regular 6-string and 12-string guitars with equal ease.
The capo won’t separate doubled strings at all, which is something that many capos do. It’s a trap that has befallen many inexperienced guitarists early on. Obviously, the string tension will not perform ideally on every guitar.
Yet, you’ll find the unique design of this Dunlop capo useful with acoustic guitars, ukuleles, classical guitars, and even banjos. It’s going to take a bit of time to understand how to position it properly without picking up any buzz but not overly so.
This acoustic guitar capo has an open depth of 1-1/2”. That makes it enough for most acoustic guitars. Another feature is actually the design. The very sleek, slim build makes it easier to control the tension with one hand.
Although fully adjustable, the capo may induce some buzzing if you’re using all metallic strings. However, it won’t mute your strings in any way. The rubber sleeve is thinner than seen on most similar models.
This isn’t a big disadvantage though. In a way, it’s actually great since the capo isn’t going to exert too much pressure on the strings. And, since it also allows the strings to sink in slightly, it helps prevent string separation, which could really affect the intonation and tuning retention.
This original Greg Bennett capo sparks a love it or hate it conversation every time. On the one hand, it’s very versatile and convenient to use when it comes to repositioning it up and down the frets. On the other hand, You can’t exactly adjust it with one hand so no fine-tuning on the fly with this one.
One thing is for certain. It’s priced like a high-end guitar capo. That said, this particular design really does work on almost any guitars in existence, barring seven-string or wider guitars. The way it rolls smoothly on the back of the fretboard is great as well.
As the pads slide on the fretboard, they won’t cause string separation, nor will they mess with the tuning and intonation. Setting it up is not as straightforward as setting up a basic clamp-style guitar capo in that it will require both hands. If you’re buying the Greg Bennett, you’re buying it for the overall stability and reliability of the central tension.
If you’re trying to gear up on a budget, then perhaps this two for one bundle may be for you. The Nordic Essentials guitar capo pack comes with one silver and one black capo, each with its own carry pouch.
Everything you need is right there for your practice guitar and your road guitar. Both capos can be adjusted to fit electric and acoustic guitars, and they’ll fit even some smaller string instruments like banjos and ukuleles. However, I don’t particularly recommend them on anything other than a guitar.
There may be some string buzzing when attached to a thinner neck. The capo features a steel spring mechanism and a smooth lever action. That said, you’ll need a bit of force to release the thing.
You Need a Capo More than You Know
A lot of people aren’t sure about why they should use a capo on their guitars. The main purpose of a guitar capo is to allow the player to play and transition between complicated barre chords while progressing to the higher positions on the neck.
Types of Capos
There are too many types of capos on the market to go through all of them here. The manufacturers have a way of creating custom builds and their own designations. The important thing is that they’re not impossible to figure out.
In general, it can be classified by two things: the fitting mechanism and the number of strings covered. As such, you have your clamping capos, strap capos, full-length capos, and partial capos.
Partial capos, for one, require advanced mastery of the instrument to use to their maximum potential. On the other side of the coin are full-length capos, the common on the market. They’re characterized by the length of the arm, which is enough to cover all the strings on a guitar – therefore full-length.
Clamping guitar capos may have a number of subcategories but they’re essentially guitar capos that clamp onto the neck, like how a clip-on tuner latches onto the headstock.
Strap capos also have a range of design variations. But, the fundamental principle is the use of a strap, a rod, and a couple of grommets to secure the capo to the guitar for even pressure on all the strings.
What’s Nice to Have
If you need a capo for playing live, you should probably invest in one that you can adjust the tension with only one hand. These may not always be the most reliable but the key thing is that they allow you to quickly reposition the capo for a new song or tuning.
Adjustable tension is a must-have too in most cases. It’s not that fixed-tension guitar capos can’t ensure a perfect fit and string tension. It’s just that they’re usually designed for specific guitars. They lack versatility in that respect.
Freedom of movement is also important. You’ll notice that some guitar capos can move freely up and down the fretboard once properly secured to the guitar neck. Others can’t be moved at all, which is why they are known as fixed point capos.
I could go with both, as they each have their own benefits in certain situations. It may just come down to personal preference or play style.
Start Getting the Most Out of Your Guitar
It should be clear by now that once you find the best guitar capo for your axe, chances are you’ll never have to replace it.
The capos reviewed in this article are all built to last, like in years and years of playing. You’re more likely to lose it, or your friend’s dog is more likely to chew it up, than it is for any of them to stop working on its own.