Best guitar capos 2023: 10 top choice capos for acoustic and electric guitar

Acoustic guitar with a capo
(Image credit: Future)

Simple yet, relatively inexpensive the best guitar capos are incredibly versatile tools and something that should be in every self-respecting guitar player's arsenal. When used properly, you can massively open up the creative possibilities within your songwriting, rejuvenating and recycling chord progressions as well as opening up some seriously cool-sounding chord shapes when utilizing open strings.

A capo is fastened or clamped across the strings of your guitar, essentially changing the tuning of your instrument in one fell swoop. Instead of changing the pitch down it changes it up – albeit only for the open strings, as your fretted notes remain the same. Your capo will also change the feel of your guitar strings, as it shortens the scale length when applied.

The use of a capo can just be as simple as transposing an open chord progression to a different key, or as complicated as revoicing a chord progression for two guitars during recording. It also offers up some interesting possibilities when using open strings, as you can use the same open chord shapes with drastically different results, giving you chords that wouldn’t be possible to fret without the capo applied.

There are a lot of different guitars out there, and thus, a lot of different capos, so you’ll need to make sure you’re fully armed with the knowledge to get the best capo for your guitar. At the end of this article, we have an in-depth buying advice section where you can learn more, or just keep scrolling to see our top picks.

Best guitar capos: Our top picks

It’s topped many a best-of list for good reason, so it’s no surprise to find the G7th Performance 3 ART Guitar Capo (opens in new tab) sitting pretty at the top of ours. It may be pricey for a capo, but its design is one of the most innovative available thanks to the quick-release system and adaptive radius that makes it compatible with the majority of guitar necks.

If you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly however, the Shubb Original C1 Steel String Capo (opens in new tab) is an industry-standard name in the world of guitar. Ensuring outstanding reliability with a rock-solid screw-in system that lets you adjust the perfect amount of tension, it’s not the absolute cheapest you can get, but it is totally worth the relatively small financial outlay.

Best guitar capos: Product guide

Best guitar capos: G7th’s Performance 3 ART

(Image credit: Future)

1. G7th Performance 3 ART Capo

One of the best guitar capos on the market. But does it justify the price tag?

Specifications

Type: Wrap spring clutch
Weight: 63g
Adjustable tension: Yes
Suitable for: Six-string acoustic or electric guitar

Reasons to buy

+
Suits any fretboard radius
+
Easy to operate, even one-handed
+
Reasonably lightweight and slim

Reasons to avoid

-
Overkill if you're looking for your first capo

You can buy a capo for less than 10 bucks, so what’s G7th’s big idea charging just shy of $55? Can it really be worth the outlay?

Well, the G7th Performance 3 ART features the company’s Adaptive Radius Technology – a system within the top bar which adjusts to the curvature of your guitar’s fretboard. The benefit? In theory, there should be no buzzing strings at the capo’d fret as the device makes even contact with all six strings. In turn, that gives the best possible tuning stability too.

Coupled with a rock-solid build, comfortable one-handed usability, and, actually being not quite the priciest offering here, the G7th is worth consideration for any guitarist who demands high performance from their capos.

Best guitar capos: Shubb S1 Steel String Capo

(Image credit: Press Material)

2. Shubb Original C1 Steel String Guitar Capo

The most up to date version of an industry standard

Specifications

Type: Lever/screw operated
Weight: 68g
Adjustable tension: Yes
Material: Nickel-plated brass
Suitable for: Six-string acoustic or electric guitar

Reasons to buy

+
Svelte shape won’t impede playing
+
C2-5 models available for 12-strings, banjos etc

Reasons to avoid

-
Lever/screw is slower than other designs

With the Standard C series of capos, Shubb has integrated many features previously only available in the S model. Deluxe spec at the standard price, then. Bargain! A capo of svelte design, its diminutive frame shouldn’t inhibit your playing around the clamped fret either.

Simply flip the lever to lock the capo in place or remove it – after you’ve adjusted the screw tensioner for optimal pressure, that is. Sure, it’s barely a 20-second task, but if you regularly move your capo around the fretboard or to a second guitar, the speed of a quick-release capo may be preferable.

Still, it’s a minor gripe. This is a classic design, a well-built industry standard that should give years of reliable use. Buy with confidence.

Best guitar capos: Ernie Ball Axis Capo

(Image credit: Press Material)

3. Ernie Ball Axis Capo

One of the easiest capos to use, and at a great price

Specifications

Type: Quick-release spring-clamp
Weight: 99.8g
Adjustable tension: No
Material: Lightweight aluminium
Suitable for: Six- and seven-string acoustic or electric guitar

Reasons to buy

+
Quick, single-handed operation
+
Works with curved and flat fretboards
+
Suitable for six- and seven-string guitars

Reasons to avoid

-
Those arms may get in the way

Ernie Ball’s tasty-looking Axis capo sure has curb appeal but its talents aren’t purely skin-deep. Its main strength is easy, one-handed operation. Need to move your capo mid-song? No problem! Just grab the Axis and move it. The springs deal with the tensioning for you. As long as you’re careful not to bend the strings in the process, capos don’t come easier to use than this.

And there’s no need to worry about the curvature of your guitar’s fretboard either. The Axis has two rubber-padded arms – one for flat fretboards and one for radiused. Just flip the capo around to suit your ’board. We do feel the arms can get in the way a little, but, generally, the ergonomics are pretty good so we’re not complaining.

Best guitar capos: Dunlop Trigger Capo

(Image credit: Musician's Friend)

4. Dunlop Trigger Capo

Still among the best capos available…

Specifications

Type: Quick-release spring-clamp
Weight: 63.5g
Adjustable tension: No
Material: Aircraft grade aluminium
Suitable for: Six-string acoustic or electric guitar

Reasons to buy

+
Ease of use
+
Robust build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Tough competition from Ernie Ball
-
Single radius design only

Dunlop’s Trigger capo has been around for a while. Some would say it’s another of those ‘industry standards’. Well, in 2020, it has a natural competitor in the Ernie Ball Axis model, both being spring-loaded quick-release designs. Like the Axis, you can easily change the key with just a squeeze of the Trigger’s spring-loaded arms. Easy!

However, despite the Trigger’s reassuringly sturdy build – sure to offer steady intonation in use – the Axis has it licked for both price and flexibility. There’s nothing to dislike here though. It’s a great capo with proven longevity. If you want one, you can be sure the Trigger will serve you well.

Best guitar capos: Planet Waves D'Addario NS Capo Pro

(Image credit: Press Material)

5. D'Addario Planet Waves NS Capo Pro

Beautiful ergonomics from product designer Ned Steinberger, Jim D'Addario and Planet Waves

Specifications

Type: Screw/spring-clamp
Weight: 45g
Adjustable tension: Yes
Material: Aircraft grade aluminium
Suitable for: Six- or12-string acoustic or electric guitar

Reasons to buy

+
Ergonomic slimline design
+
Micrometer adjustment helps minimise buzz

Reasons to avoid

-
You may need a second capo
-
Not much really

Both lightweight and slimline, this capo from D’addario is designed to have as little negative impact on your playing as possible. Minimal mass means the NS Pro doesn’t weigh your guitar’s neck down (a potential concern when capo-ing at the 1st or 2nd fret) and its diminutive stature makes for easy fretting beside the capo.

This model is for guitars with radiused fretboards. That means you’ll need another capo for classical guitar or generally flatter-radiused instruments, which, to be fair D’addario does offer. Just be aware this isn’t a one size fits all capo. Need to save your dollars? Consider D’addario’s NS Lite model instead – it’s plastic, admittedly, but high-strength molded ABS, so it should bear the rigors of many years of use.

Best guitar capos: Fender Smart Capo

(Image credit: Fender)

6. Fender Smart Capo

The best guitar capos for lightning-fast changes

Specifications

Type: Quick-release clamp
Weight: 45.4g
Adjustable tension: Yes
Material: Plastic
Suitable for: Six-string acoustic or electric guitar

Reasons to buy

+
Fast clamp system
+
Adjustable tension
+
Lightweight design

Reasons to avoid

-
 Takes some learning to use

Despite pretty much everything being monikered as ‘smart’ these days, the Fender Smart Capo really is quite clever. Its patent-pending design makes it the perfect capo for the player that needs to make rapid changes.

You can easily move this capo with one hand, great for performers when you need to quickly switch between songs or even in the middle of the song if you’re the daring kind. The squeeze on nature means that you can always add the perfect amount of tension too.

It’s super lightweight as well, so unlike some of the more cumbersome offerings it won’t change the balance of your guitar in the slightest. If you’re not used to this kind of capo then it may take you a little while to get used to it, once you do though you’ll be flying.

Best guitar capos: Paige Original 6-String Acoustic capo

(Image credit: Press Material)

7. Paige Original 6-String Acoustic Capo

Set it and forget it! One of the best wraparound capos available

Specifications

Type: Wraparound
Weight: 45g
Adjustable tension: Yes
Material: Metal
Suitable for: Six-string acoustic

Reasons to buy

+
Even pressure ensures good intonation
+
Leave it behind the nut when not in use

Reasons to avoid

-
Can’t be adjusted for specific radiuses
-
Not the quickest position shifts

We just had to include a wraparound in our list and the Paige is a worthy contender for your cash. A tension screw sits at the middle of the back of the neck, pulling on the capo’s front arm with even pressure across the fretboard. It’s a design which largely minimises sideways string pull – so expect steady tuning.

A version for electric guitar includes thicker rubber to allow for easier string bends and to accommodate all but the most curvaceous of fretboard radiuses. A wider variant is available too – an important concern with wraparounds. Make sure to measure your guitar neck to ensure it’ll fit the Paige’s 2.062 inch width (or 2.187 for the wide model) before buying.

Best guitar capos: Guitto GGC-02 Revolver capo

(Image credit: Press Material)

8. Guitto GGC-02 Revolver capo

A well thought out budget capo from Joyo’s new accessories company

Specifications

Type: Screw/spring-clamp
Weight: 120g
Adjustable tension: Yes
Material: Zinc alloy
Suitable for: Six-string acoustic or electric guitar / ukulele

Reasons to buy

+
Genuinely useful pin puller and pick slot
+
Impressive build quality for the price
+
Cool revolver styling

Reasons to avoid

-
Big handles can impede playing

So, who knew capos could include features beyond clamping strings against a guitar’s fretboard? Those cool cats at Joyo’s new accessories brand, Guitto, that’s who!

In addition to its spring-loaded, screw-adjustable clamp, this budget offering from the Chinese company offers two genuinely useful extras. First there’s a slot to hold a spare pick – a nice touch! And, second, there’s a bridge pin puller to help you quickly make string changes on your acoustic.

With its vacuum-cast, electro-plated zinc alloy build, we found this to be a good quality capo too. And, even if you’re not a regular capo user, at this price it’d still be worth keeping one (or two) in your gigbag for those impromptu jams.

Best guitar capos: Creative Tunings Universal SpiderCapo Standard

(Image credit: Press Material)

9. Creative Tunings Universal SpiderCapo Standard

Quirky, creative and definitely worth a second look

Specifications

Type: Side-grip universal partial capo
Weight: 45g
Adjustable tension: Yes
Material: Stainless steel shaft / Aluminium knob
Suitable for: Six-string acoustic or electric guitar

Reasons to buy

+
Create alternate tunings without retuning your guitar
+
 Fret notes above or below the capo

Reasons to avoid

-
Can impede string bending
-
Unclamped strings can’t easily be played at capo’d fret

A creative take on a humble device, the SpiderCapo allows you to clamp each string individually, in turn offering up a world of alternate tunings – many that you might not have otherwise tried. All without actually retuning a string!

You could, for instance, place a SpiderCapo at 2nd position, clamp the fretted strings of an open A chord and leave the others open – that’s open A tuning. You can only capo one fret however, so more complex chordal tunings are not an option.

The SpiderCapo is suitable for any fretboard radius, but you’ll be adjusting pressure on each individual string – which is a relatively slow process. Also, unclamped strings can’t be fretted at the capo’d position which is a weird quirk; above or below the capo is all gravy though.

Still, if a capo can fuel new creative ideas, that alone makes it worth the price of entry. It’ll likely suit technically adept acoustic fingerstylists but we’d recommend it for any player seeking fresh inspiration.

Best guitar capos: Kyser Pro Am 6-String Guitar Capo

(Image credit: Press Material)

10. Kyser Pro/Am 6-String Guitar Capo

The best capo for a guitarists on the tightest of tight budgets?

Specifications

Type: Screw-clamp
Weight: 45g
Adjustable tension: Yes
Material: Lightweight aluminium
Suitable for: Six-string acoustic or electric guitar

Reasons to buy

+
Well, the price!

Reasons to avoid

-
No spring or lever assistance; screw-clamp only
-
More rubber on the lower arm would be reassuring
-
Aesthetics

Spoiler alert! There are better quality capos elsewhere in this list. So why include Kyser’s budget offering amongst our ‘best capo’ selection, you ask? Well, this is the cheapest model on our list. If you want a chuck-it-in-your-gigbag-and-forget-about-it capo, it’s ideal. Buy two or three and rest assured you’ll never be without.

Yes, it’s somewhat utilitarian, but it’ll do its job way better than any elasticated wrap-around type for just a teensy bit more of your hard earned. If we have a gripe, it’s the screw tensioner, which you have to adjust manually every time you move the Pro/Am. It’s a bit of a yawn but at this price we’re really not complaining.

Best guitar capos: Buying advice

Capo next to sheet music, picks and tuner

(Image credit: Future)

There are loads of different capos, all of which will work on different instruments. At first, it can seem a little confusing, but with our expert knowledge, you'll soon have the right one for your instrument. 

What is fretboard radius?

You might be confused by all this talk of fretboard radiuses, but you needn't be. Radius refers to the curvature of this vital part of your guitar. Some guitars (like certain vintage Fenders) feature rounded boards, whereas others are near flat. While each has its own benefits, suffice it to say that different fretboard designs represent a compromise in capo design.

Fix a rounded capo on a flat fretboard (or vice versa) and you’ll end up with unwanted string buzz (the noise made where strings aren’t fully clamped) and poor tuning (where strings are pushed sharp from over-tightening the capo). In a perfect world, every capo would apply even force across all six strings (and at every fret position), in order to prevent these problems.

Generally, capos can be divided into radiused capos for rounder fretboards; flatter designs, typically for shreddy SuperStrats and classical guitars; and all-in-ones – capos that either accommodate different radiuses (such as the G7th) or incorporate both a flat surface and a rounded one into their design.

Do capos fit all guitars?

Ultimately your first consideration when choosing one of the best capos should be to choose one that fits your guitar. Most brands offer a range of options, so if you see a capo you like, there’ll probably be one designed to fit your guitar. 

Generally, capos are designed to fit as universally as possible, so you shouldn't need to buy a specific capo unless your neck or fretboard is exceptionally different from the norm. A capo that fits on a regular acoustic guitar will most likely do the same job on an electric. There are, however, specific capos for Ukuleles, 12-string guitars, and classical guitars.

The reason for this is obvious with ukuleles as they're much smaller, less so with the other two. Because of the extra set of strings on a 12-string acoustic or electric, you'll need a higher tension to effectively clamp down the strings. On a classical guitar, it comes down to the flat fretboard radius as we mentioned before, which requires a specific capo design to work properly. 

What is a guitar capo used for?

Primarily a guitar capo is used for changing the key of your instrument. For example, if you place a capo on the second fret of your guitar and play the chord shape that would ordinarily be an open E major, you’ll now be playing an F# major instead. This can be really useful when working with different singers, as they may need the pitch of the song changed to match their respective vocal range.

Capos also offer up interesting uses when revoicing chords. You can take a regular chord progression, add the capo and change the chord shapes. This gives you the same chords but with a different voice, and thus a more interesting sound. Pair it up with a guitar playing the original voicings and you can add a much richer tone to your recordings.

Lastly, a capo can be used as a purely creative tool, allowing you to use ringing open strings to create chords that would be impossible to fret without the use of a capo. Many bands over the years have utilized this, so next time you’re feeling uninspired, whack your capo on and try those same chord progressions again - you might well find something truly inspiring at your fingertips!

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Chris has been the Editor of Total Guitar magazine since 2020. Prior to that, he was at the helm of Total Guitar's world-class tab and tuition section for 12 years. He's a former guitar teacher with 35 years playing experience and he holds a degree in Philosophy & Popular Music. Chris has interviewed Brian May three times, Jimmy Page once, and Mark Knopfler zero times – something he desperately hopes to rectify as soon as possible.

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