What is a capo?
It's an accessory and fundamental piece that is placed on the neck of some stringed musical instruments, mainly guitars. Also known as capo, capotraste or capodastro. It can be made of different materials, such as, for example:
- Steel: these are the most used because their durability is maximum and when placed on the fingerboard, they keep their shape.
- Aluminum: currently, reinforced space aluminum is widely used. It has a higher hardness and is also much lighter.
- Steel and polyester: this is an interesting combination in which a steel bar is attached to tread the strings. While a polyester cord holds the capo in place to put pressure on the strings.
- Ivory: this is for the capos that the guitar naturally carries on the fretboard. They are the most desirable because they offer a more stable string vibration. They are made from femur or tibia bones of bison or cattle.
- Galatite: a material used for capos, known as synthetic ivory. It's produced from milk protein casein and formaldehyde.
- ABS plastic: can be used for capos and capodastros, and is the most commonly used synthetic material for making inexpensive capos. Although it's very strong, its ability to stabilize string vibrations is rather limited.
- Wood: usually used for the manufacture of capos for guitars or high quality plucked stringed instruments. Some of the most commonly used woods are nazarene or purpleheart, ebony and Indian rosewood.
- Carbon fiber: only a few companies use this material, among them Parker Fly. But they are valued by shreeding style guitarists.
Which capo do we recommend?
The best thing to do is to try as many materials as you can. Experiment, listen, vary the tunings with different types of capos, explore and choose the one that suits you best. However, we prefer aluminum capos, while for the nuts we believe that ivory and nazarene wood are the best materials.
To achieve the ideal vibrations, it's advisable to apply oil or some type of kerosene wax on the fretboard before each concert. This allows the string to have less resistance when vibrating and the capodastro capo acts better on the strings.
However, for the nut, some prefer those made of carbon fiber and covered with Teflon. This material is very slippery and gives freedom to the natural harmonics of the musical notes.
Function of the capo
Referring to the capodastro capo, its function is mainly to facilitate the realization of barre chords. This is how the guitarist achieves a much greater freedom to play with ease in different keys and scales.
Now, with respect to the capo, it was previously believed that it served two functions: 1. keep the strings clamped inside the fretboard area. and 2. allow the luthier to give it the right pitch to establish the correct physical relationship of distance per pitch, also known as scale or string pull, which is what allows the correct harmony of the notes on the instrument.
However, with the passing of time, luthiers discovered that this piece also has a positive influence on the quality of sound vibrations. From there they began to experiment with different types of materials to perfect the sound of their guitars, bass and other plucked or plucked string instruments. External parts were also created to facilitate the realization of chords.
The capo in the guitar: technique or capo
It's important to emphasize that the capo as an accessory is not only the piece that is placed between the headstock and the fretboard. Instead, it also refers to a tectine that can be performed by hand.
- Capo as a hand technique: it's used by exerting pressure with the index finger, as when playing chords in barre position. Its use is more common among classical guitar players who have a more demanding technique and are less dependent on external tools. Paco de Lucia was one of the flamenco guitarists who used this technique the most, and in a masterful way. He achieved exceptional musical sounds by playing the capo with his fingers.
- Capo: a guitar capo is the piece or tool that is placed over a fret to simulate the function of the natural capo. It serves to facilitate the execution of many capo chords, as well as complex compositions. Its use is common in flamenco, to perform what in flamenco vocabulary is known as chord por medio, chord por arriba and chord por abajo. This type of capo allows the index finger to remain free and provides more freedom in the scales. It's also widely used on the acoustic guitar, and is known by other names, such as “guitar clamp”, which is placed in a different position. This is why it can cover both three and six strings, relieving pressure on the touch.
It's important that you master both methods and do not rely exclusively on one. Chamber guitarists complain to flamenco guitarists that their technique is not at all complex and that they seek to facilitate the interpretation. This is why we recommend not relying on the capo. However, it's also important to master the capo chord form, because there are compositions that can only be played with this tool. Thanks to it, you can release pressure on your hand and give free rein to your creativity.
Exercises for mastering the capo as an index finger technique
You must place the index finger on the first fret, and start by pressing the note F in E bass guitar. The middle finger should be in F#, the ring finger in G and the little finger in G#. When you finish with the E string, you must perform the same movement with the A5 string and then with D4, until you pass through G3, B2 and E sharp. You must do the same at fret 1 and all the others until you reach fret 9.
However, it's important that in none of the movements do you lift or stop exerting force with the index finger. Always maintain the pressure as if you were performing barbell chords, with the same strength in each and every movement performed.
Types of capo
- Capo for acoustic guitar: acoustic guitar capos are wider and have more length. Generally, the bone ones are preferred when it comes to the nut, but Graph Tech's products are excellent and the most used in the world. Acoustic guitar headstocks are wider, and steel ones are preferred.
- Cejillas flamencas: these are pieces that provide the appropriate action to achieve the characteristic sound with a lisp that is sought. Alhambra uses custom ivory parts, but Graph Tech parts are most commonly used by companies such as Yamaha and Admira, among others. Likewise, the capos capodastros are the same as those used for classical and acoustic guitars.
- Capo for electric guitar: these capos are smaller than the rest because the neck requires it. In this sense, electric guitar capos are always preferable to those made of synthetic materials. However, capos capodastros are not as popular on electric guitars. But, if any, they are smaller than those of Spanish guitars.
- Cejilla Spanish guitar: these are the same as the capos/cejuelas for classical guitar. We prefer the ivory ones, but there are also very good ones made with synthetic materials. Likewise with the capodastro, it's the same for acoustic and flamenco guitars.
Capo, nut or saddle?
In the guitar world, as a consequence of the wide cultural and linguistic diversity, there is a great deal of confusion about these terms. Thanks to globalization, today we can enjoy sharing with a wide variety of musicians who use different names to refer to the same thing.
This is the case of the capo, because this piece of wood or bone between the neck and the headstock of the guitar is known by at least four names. In common vocabulary this part is called capo, while some luthiers may call it cejuela. But also, it's known as selleta and some call it nut, which means “nut”, while others call it bone. And the best part is that they are all right.
Capoilla, capo, capodastro or capotraste?
This is the same as with the capo of the neck or bridge. The capodastro is also known by at least four different names. Thus, to say capo, capo, capodastro or capotraste is to refer to the same accessory.
There are also many who call it a “lifesaver”. This is due to the fact that at times, the guitarist only knows one key. But with the capo, you can use the same known chord shape in different neck positions to change the key. This way you don't have to learn new chords at that vital emergency moment.
- Asmuse Trigger Capo Electric Guitars Skeleton
- Shubb C1
- Stagg SCPM-F
- Ortega OCAPO-CR
- Adagio Pro Deluxe
The best capodastro capos
Asmuse Trigger Capo Electric Guitars Skeleton
The strongest and most durable you can find.
This is a capo made of spatial aluminum alloy, so its resistance is maximum. It has a black metallic color finish and features an excellent spring that has received high praise from users. It's a lightweight product built to last a lifetime.
It measures 9 x 12 x 2 cm and weighs only 50 g. It also includes three guitar picks. The best part is that Asmuse offers a lifetime warranty.
Shubb C1 – Cejilla for guitar
It's almost indestructible.
This is a capodastro for acoustic, classical and electric guitars that is excellent for its nickel-plated construction. This not only gives it superior strength, but it's also stainless.
As far as its design is concerned, it has not received very good feedback because some users find it too short. But this is not true because it has the necessary measurements to be used in any instrument. In addition, the clamping design is excellent and we love it because it doesn't shift at any time.
Cannot be used for classical guitar.
This is a capo manufactured by NEUMA that is made of high-strength aluminum. It also features a spring that has a hidden design and exerts greater pressure and support. You can use it with electric and acoustic guitars, but it's not recommended for classical guitars, ukuleles or electric basses.
Rayzm Cejilla Capo for Ukulele
Excellent for ukuleles.
Can only be used with ukuleles.
This capo is made of zinc alloy and is small in size. This is because it was designed to be used exclusively on ukuleles. It's small, lightweight and has excellent holding power for such small instruments. In addition, the company offers a money back guarantee that is valid for sixty days.
Stagg SCPM-F – Cejilla for classical guitar
It's a traditional capo with excellent durability.
Can only be used on classical guitars.
This is a capo for traditionally made classical guitars. Its flat design makes string clamping much more reliable. In addition, the base metal is stainless steel and the polyester strap is highly resistant and durable.
Ortega OCAPO-CR – Cejilla for classical guitar
By far the best capo for classical/Spanish guitar.
Ortega not only manufactures guitars, but also accessories that are very useful for playing the instrument. This capodastro is a sample of this because it was designed to fit mostly classical guitars that have a flat fretboard up to 52 mm wide. In addition, its aeronautical aluminum construction gives it exceptional durability.
Adagio Pro Deluxe
Excellent for fingerstyle.
For small masts.
This capo is one of the best news that fingerstyle lovers have had in the last decade. People who have seen Andy Mckee's Raylynn video always wonder: where did that capo come from? Well, look no further. This is the capo that every musician needs to be able to explore quickly, dynamically and without detracting from the strength of the grip on the strings.
We also recommend you check our article if you want a harmonica.