Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Yup, it’s that question again.

I’m a longtime fan of the Shubb - because honestly, it rocks. The only downside I can find is that you need two hands to change it, which isn’t great in our line of music. So I’m looking to replace, or at least explore.

A friend of mine recently switched to a Greg Bennet slider capo - I’ve owned one and I don’t love it, although my friend swears by it. I’ve heard some guitarists from bands I respect talk about the Quick Draw, a basic looking thing which you can slide up with one hand. Some people say the G7th has overtaken the Shubb. There’s also the fancy looking Thalia, which seems almost too good to be true. In Bluegrass circles people love the Hamilton, though they typically don’t need to change keys as quickly.

So what are you’re thoughts?

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Still use an ancient Shubb: suspect it isn’t even the one I bought initially, as I started off with a nice shiny one, and it mysteriously transmogrified into a dull one with verdigris in minutes after I put mine on a session table! Can take it off one-handed, but needs 2 hands to put it on. My first ever capo was more like an instrument of torture than a capo: great big silver metal thing with springs, levers and plastic cover to press on the strings.
A friend has just bought himself a Thalia and is delighted with it, but they are not cheap! I’m not a good enough guitarist to justify buying one.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

I don’t capo often, but when I do, I use the G7th. One hand is all you need and it holds securely without over-tightening.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

G7th on guitar and zouk - I still have a couple of old Shubbs but rarely use them

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

My old Schub or Kyser Quick Change. Don’t play enough guitar in performance settings to justify the cost of a G7th

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

I have a sliding capo on my bouzouki but for my guitars I use a Kyser Quick Change. I use standard tuning so mostly play without it, but I certainly use it a lot for songs. With a voice like mine you need all the help you can get! I have two Kysers, one stays in my case for performance engagements and I have a spare in the studio. I use the one in the studio a lot, I’ve had it for about 20 years and the rubber is still in good nick as is the spring. A very reliable product.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Don’t like the Kyser - too crude and not a good feel in your pocket.
Used to use Shubb capos for their pocketability and their great engineering - still have three or four. Now use G7th for their tuning stability (and good in pockets). The originals, which I have (yes, I have more than one), are a bit weighty, but the new ones, which I don’t yet have, are lighter.
I play in standard tuning and so don’t generally as a rule use a capo for tune accompaniment, so no need for quick changes (one of the drawbacks of DADGAD), though at a push I could move a G7th with one hand pretty quickly.
The Elliott capo, I thought was the one favoured by Bluegrassers. Not cheap, however, at $160 or so.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Tim edey and Cooney use the cheap elastic Dunlop capos but I think they modify them so they can change quickly. Mind you they’re using them on a nylon string. I like the shubb.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

I have used Shubb for many years and still like them.
I play flamenco, electric, and banjo so need a different size and radius for each instrument. I like that the Shubb’s have a low profile. But the Shubbs can be knocked off by accident depending on the thickness of your neck.

I got a Thalia and like it, but they are expensive ($65.00-$85.00). They are not as easy to slide as their advertising suggests. And, they will push your strings out if tune if you position it in the middle of the frets (as they suggest). I have to put it very close to the capo-ed fret to keep the strings in tune (just like any capo). It has a rather large profile, so it gets in the way occasionally, but nothing that I can’t adjust to. On the positive it comes with different radius inserts. And, it is virtually imposable to knock off by accident.

Personally I prefer the Thalia or G7 squeeze style rather than way the Donner, Kyser, Scheffland, Quick-Change work. The Thalia or G7 seem less awkward to position and more around. But the others are ridiculously cheaper.

You can get the Thalia with a cool celtic weave insert. It is well designed and excellent quality of manufacturing. It comes with two sets of fret pads of different material (7 Rubber Fret Pads & 7 Teflon Sliding Fret Pads). Each set has just about any radius you would need. One material grips the string better, the other material is teflon.
Info on rubber vs. teflon: https://www.thaliacapos.com/pages/teflon-vs-rubber-fretpads

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

The more I play, the less I use a capo (unless I "have to", should I play in an Eb-session, or in keys way outside one or two sharps). I like Kyser for quick changes.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Tempting though they are, capos tend to limit a backer’s options and encourage them to play the same phrases and chops regardless of key/ mode. e.g. Playing backing in the first position in D or G are quite different with each having its own voicings and inversions but if one bungs on a capo on the fifth fret to play in G, one is still doing all the D cliches but, ok, sounding in G. Much better to think G and honestly play in that key/ mode.
And the occasional tune in less Irish keys such as F or Gm (for example) are more of a challenge. Actually thinking out where the backing is going in such circumstances e.g. F, and plying ‘in F’ is much more fun than just bunging on the capo on the third fret and playing the same old shapes as for D! All the different modes/ keys have a different flavour on the different instruments, capos diminish this beautiful randomness.
(& the same goes for the horrid DADGAD method, the advocates of which will be staunch supporters of capo-ism!!)

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Couldn’t agree more, re backing, Yhaal House.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Thanks for all the thoughts, people. The G7th is looking more and more tempting, I think I’ll have a go with than one.

@DonaldK - you might be right. Is it possible that one is based on the old Hamilton model? I did some searching, couldn’t find the latter new anywhere online.

@Yhaal
Capos don’t limit people - people limit people.
Capos give you -more- flexibility, not less, as long as you avoid the trap you mention. Being stuck in the same position for every tune and key is both boring and limiting.
I can back a tune in G perfectly fine in open position, but I often capo up to 7, because I like the feel. I have no problems backing something in Amaj or Amix in open position Drop D or DADGAD, but I get much more power capoing it up to the 2nd or 7th fret.
If you know all your keys in all the reasonable capo positions, each new capo position gives you a whole range of different ‘open’ positions to play with, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, quirks, chops and runs, which work for different feels and (types of) tunes. You can then look for the different sounds and modal qualities on purpose, rather than hoping for ‘beautiful randomness’.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Actually, the rubber pad just fell off my Shubb! Need to figure out how to glue that sucker back on.

I love the Shubb, but I’ve switched to Paige on both guitar and bouzouki. I like that you can adjust the tension as you put it on, which I find helps with intonation. And I like that you can store it on the nut, so I don’t lose them. I’ve had two kysers break over the years, so I don’t trust the spring ones anymore, and I did have a G7 but it just weighed too much, I could feel the difference in the neck balance.

And regarding the brewing controversy: I think using a capo is great; not being able to play without it because you only know 2 chords is a problem.

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Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

I use a Planet Waves for guitar. It’s small and out of the way.

I only use it for a few fingerstyle melody arrangements in Drop-D tuning; things like playing Bm tunes with Am fingering so I can still use open string drones. For strummed guitar backing I don’t use it because Drop-D is flexible enough without it. Also I love having that huge "D" note on the bottom string, which you lose with a capo.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

@Yhaal - "capos … tend to limit a backer’s options and encourage them to play the same phrases and chops regardless of key/ mode…"
- Your comments on capos have validity especially for beginners. But capos can be used to expand possibilities (see @PhilipStone comments). And, are absolutely required in some forms other than Irish Traditional. Some might not like it that I mention other genres, but the discussion was about a tool (capos) and many if not most of us guitar players play other genres as well.
Some examples:
- If I am in standard tuning, and getting a little bored or pigeon-holed playing D Irish tunes, I will use a capo. I can capo on the 2nd fret and use C chord positions to play in D. It can completely change your whole arrangement and open up some creative possibilities.
- If I am accompanying an Irish folk song with another guitarist, I will often capo so that I can play different chord patterns than them. With a little bit of arrangement and good musical taste it can add an element of beauty. Some sessions I have been to, finish up the session with an Irish Folk song.
- There are a few Irish songs that fit so well to Open G tuning, I will use a capo if the singer wants another key.
- A little digression: Appalachian banjo tradition requires (for 5 string banjo) playing most G tunes in Open G tuning, and playing most A tunes in Open G with capo on 2nd fret. Many D tunes are played in open D, but mostly in Double C, capo at 2nd fret. If you didn’t use a capo, you would be very Un-traditional.

:) Capos don’t kill music - people kill music. :-)

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Steve, I think Yhaal House was referring to those accompanists, particularly those who use DADGAD, who play pretty much everything in "D", so you end up with the same relative voicings all the time. Then the individuality of the different guitar keys is lost.
Accompanying songs (and perhaps some slow airs) is a totally different ball game.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

I’m a professional guitarist and the prospect of spending more than $20 on a capo sounds insane.

I’ll only use a capo if the voicings I want to use for a particular song involve specific open strings. And I generally play in standard tuning with an occasional dropped D.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

G7th or Jim Dunlop trigger capo.

Kyser is just too fiddly for me, usually flies off!

Used a QuickDraw for about a year, until it took all the lacquer off the back of my Fyldes’ neck.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

@Yhaal and @DonaldK. I totally agree, using a capo to "end up with the same relative voicing all the time" is a crutch and a hinderance to good music. Actually, I agree strongly with what each of you said. I am sorry if it sounded critical.

The rest of this rant is informational, in case anyone is interested:
I wanted a novice or just someone who is considering a capo, to know that there are many occasions when a capo can enhance your music. And some occasions when it is even necessary. (See my reply above).
Personally, I almost never use a capo. But I have them handy in case I am working with a vocalist, accompanying another guitarist, or playing traditional American banjo, and (rarely) it is just the right thing for certain arrangements.
I would discourage any novice from using DADGAD (and capos) and stick to standard tuning until they have a thorough understanding of the music. Adding a capo to DADGAD is kind of like adding a bump-stock to a hunting rifle. Neither has much desirable utility {my sick humor}. There are great DADGAD guitarists. But, it seems to me that the majority of great guitars (even Irish) use other tunings. It seems like a lot of amateur Irish guitarist really like DADGAD. I think they are limiting their musical growth by doing so. Once you have a pretty thorough understanding of your music, than any tuning is the right tuning. But until then, it’s probably best to use Standard tuning. And, it’s highly probable that you will want to switch back to Standard tuning occasionally no matter what other tuning you use. You should at least know Standard tuning if only to try instruments in a guitar store.

Standard tuning (EADGBE) is amazingly versatile (almost magically versatile). You should have really good musical reasons for abandoning it.

Dropped D (DADGBE) and Double Dropped D (DADGBD) are less versatile, but have some real advantages. And can support any key, but not as good as Standard.

Open tuning (D and G) and DADGAD have specific applications that can work very well, but are not very flexible. And tend to use capos to get to the correct key.

DADGAD is very modal sounding in D, but it sounds weak to me in G based keys unless you use a capo and then you fall into the "the horrid DADGAD method".

This is what I use (if you are curious). I am including it because there are some good traditions where capos play a part (or not):

I use Double Dropped D (DADGBD) when I am playing Irish (and I NEVER capo). It works well for D and G and the derivative keys (F# and F#/C#). You can get a DADGAD sound out of the four base strings (6,5,4,3: DADG), you have standard tuning in the middle 4 strings (5,4,3,2: ADGB), and open G on the 4 treble strings (4,3,2,1: DGBD). I can play this tuning in any key or mode pretty conveniently.
If you are a little crazy, you can put a Keith tuner on the A string so you can switch to G on the fly and have Open G tuning (DGDGBD) which sounds really good on some Irish G major tunes. It’s kind of fun, but it really doesn’t make things any easier (you have to remember to switch it back to A).

I always use Standard tuning for Blues. But know a few people that like Eb and Ab, so I have a guitar tuned a half step flat. I have a capo for the first fret in case we switch back to concert pitch (E, A, …) Some blues guitarists do use Open G tuning (Keith Richards) but they are usually also accomplished at Standard tuning. There are notable exceptions, especially for slide. Occasionally capos are used, especially if there is a vocalist.

I use open G for slide guitar (mostly Blues or Hawaiian). G6 tuning for Country. There are many more tunings for Country, especially when you have more than 6 strings and start adding levers and pedals. Capos usually not used. The slide is kind of a moving capo. There are really strange awkward capos for lap guitars, but they are pretty rare. There is one German lap steel guitar that has a built in capo. It works well.

On Appalachian banjo I use Open G (gDGBD) for G, C, Dm and A(capo II) tunes. I retune to Double C (gCGCD) (capoII) for most D tunes. Double D (Double C - capo II fret) is just such a great sounding tuning for the more modal mountain D tunes.

I use Standard tuning for Classical Guitar, but Dropped D is sometimes perfect and entirely acceptable. But I have NEVER seen a capo used.

For Flamenco guitar I follow the Spanish Gypsy tradition. Always Standard tuning. Mostly E and A key finger patterns. And ALWAYS have a CAPO available to get your E and A Phrygian/Ionian/Aeolian tunes into the right key for the singer.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

I use the Paige capos, which are one of the brands which clasp around the neck and slide up the headstock when not in use. Admittedly, guitar isn’t an instrument I play ITM on, but I find the Paige to be a great product.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

I use a quick draw on my bouzouki, no problem with the lacquer, works fine for me, and I like it because I can loose it too…

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Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

*can’t loose it sorry

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Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Ok this is just me being curmudgeonly again. If you take my meaningless opinion seriously it’s your fault!

I believe, for no good reason, that God and the Spanish intended for the guitar to be played without a capo and in standard tuning (Ok, they did sometimes go to Drop D). It’s sometimes harder, just better. There I said it.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

For singer/guitarists, the capo is often a necessary tool.

If a singer has worked out an imaginative arrangement, perhaps a complex finger style, it is better to use a capo rather than rearrange the whole piece. Much easier to play in G with a capo on the second fret for A than use a different finger picking pattern. It may also be more interesting effective using the original arrangement.

If you are particularly keen on emulating a particular performer, then using a capo is a good move if the original key doesn’t suit your voice.
Even the actual composers and artists may find that comfort in certain keys may vary from time to time. So even they will use a capo. eg even accomplished performers such as Ralph McTell will do this. So, if it’s good enough for him…..

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Yup, a lot of people use ‘em. It doesn’t change my opinion. I’ll respect your opinion (and your lovely playing by the way) there Reilly and ask you to respect mine. Disrespect is the pile of shite here.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Ok, I know it’s a guitarist thread, but a friend who plays mandolin never uses a capo: she just learns to play whatever tune in whatever key. I have to do the same on my button box (nae capos for button boxes!) - never realised until today that so many carols were in F! Merry F-ing Christmas!

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

SGTM Spanish Gypsy Traditional Music
These guitarists would never use a capo to play Spanish Classical music or American Jazz which several of them can do very well.
But, they use capos more often than not when accompanying Flamenco singers.
If you are not familiar with this stuff, but love guitar, give this a serious listen. You won’t regret it.

Here is a good example of (Spanish guys) using a capo on one of two guitars.
The form is Sevillanas. It is a Spanish folk dance form (also song). Not really Flamenco, but very common in Flamenco performances.
Paco de Lucía, Manolo Sanlúcar - Sevillana a Dos Guitarras
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9FfOpBaK0I


Here is an example where the Bulerias is required by tradition to be played in certain chord forms (usually A Phrygian).
If the guitarist transposed to play without a capo, it would not sound at all like it should.
Paco is using a capo to conform to Camaron’s voice.
By the way Paco de Lucia is considered by many to be one of the best Flamenco guitarists ever.
Camaron de la Isla consider to be the best male Flamenco singer in modern times.
Paco de Lucia y Camaron de la Isla - Bulerias (The song starts around 2:00)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOvEob7j7qs


Here is an Alegrias form, with the necessary capo. And a even a more traditional style than the above.
Chords forms are E major, but capo is used to match the singer’s range.
The song is about romantic love, and also (I think) the Spanish Civil War.
Camaron De La Isla - Tirititran
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4x02TRlaqw


It’s a big beautiful amazing world out there.

BTW: The capos they usually use are hand made out of wood with a felt cushion on the strings. It is held on by a cushioned cord that is tighten by a violin like friction peg. They only work on Flamenco or Classical guitars with flat fret boards. Here is an example:
https://www.amazon.com/Handcrafted-Designed-Classical-Spectacular-Traditional-Style/dp/B00Z57P5EE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511404139&sr=8-1&keywords=flamenco+capo

Flamenco doesn’t have an F-ing form, but they do have an F# Phrygian form that often leaves the B and high E string as drones. It sounds pretty cool. But not used very often. E Phrygian, A Phrygian, A Aeolian and E Ionian are most common
Tab: for F# Phrygian cliche chords
244300 F# - this is thought of as major triad with drones, not a complex jazz chord
355400 G
577600 A
799000 Bmin
As you can see, to get these harmonies you would have to use a capo if you were playing in G or other.

Tab for A Phrygian cliche chords
x02220 A
x02320 A add b9
x02323 A7 b9
x10330 Bb
x30550 C
xx0231 Dmin

Trivia:
California Surf guitar often used E Phrygian.
Also Brian Setzer - Stray Cat Strut, G? Phrygian.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEtbfzMLVWU

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Generally, I won’t use a capo on my mandolin or tenor banjo etc and I do just tend to learn a new tune in the actual key. I can manage this fine, usually.

However, I do use a capo if I’m playing with a Highland piper or when someone plays a very well known tune in a bizarre key.
One piper isn’t too loud especially when they use a practice or quieter set of pipes.
If you are used to playing well known tunes in D, A or whatever, it makes more sense to retain te same fingering than to change to Eb, Bb and so on. Again, the "sound" is likely to be better too as you have the benefit of the open strings for drone effects and adding other ornaments.

Northumbrian pipers often play in "F" etc but I don’t find that key too tricky as a rule.

So, in my opinion, capos are fine if used for a good musical reason but shouldn’t just be a crutch to make things easy.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Thalia on guitar for super fast key changes and a low profile, permanent parking space on the nut (it is expensive but it repaces a whole drawer full of models tried and abandoned over the years). I prefer the rubberized rather than smooth inserts for a more slip-free bite. I use the G7th Nashville on bouzouki, it’s wicked strong against string buzz. In general, I capo or not to get the sound I want…why waste a long neck if you’ve got it? On the other hand, my Maccaferri-style guitar has never seen a capo.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Only ever used a capo for song arrangements or for raising things a semi tone for accompaniment, where the instruments are tuned up. So in that regard I find Kyser capos the best of the bunch.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

I was never much of a capo user until our group grew in the number of players we had. 2 or 3 guitars all voiced the same became boring to me very quickly and I started first with a Shubb to give a different voicing. Eventually I went to a G7 for ease of use on guitar and a D’Addario on my 5 course Cittern.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Meself I just have an assistant to push his finger onto the neck when I tell him to. No buzz, key change goes very smooth, no breaking springs or stuff. Just feed them once a week and you’re grand.

Re: Guitarists, which capo do you prefer?

Now that you mention it, Tijn, I’m getting hungry.