Following on from my previous article on ukulele capos, I thought it would be beneficial if I put on my reviewer’s hat to point you in the right direction regarding some of my favored models of capo.
When choosing the right model for you, it’s worth having a think about its likely use within the context of home, jam sessions with friends or those folks talented enough to be plying their trade (whether professional or otherwise) on stage, however modest.
If you’re a beginner or a strictly home-based player, the speed with which you can employ or remove your capo shouldn’t really figure as a major consideration in your choice.
However, if you regularly gig or play with other musicians in a musical ensemble, the last thing you want is to keep your audience or fellow musos waiting while you untangle some complicated capo from the neck of your instrument! So please bear your circumstances in mind when deciding on what to go for.
Price-wise, capos vary quite a lot, but in practice, you shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money on a capo as many of the cheaper models are quite serviceable. One thing you shouldn’t do, though, is use a guitar capo on a uke – and here’s why.
In my opinion, these are the best ukulele capos at the moment:
Best All-Round Ukulele Capo
Kyser Quick-Change Ukulele Capo
The Kyser Quick-Change capo takes my pick as the most versatile all-rounder in this round-up for a number of reasons. The spring mechanism is robust, but easy enough to take on and off using just your fretting hand, unless you have a medical condition which hampers your grip.
Where this particular capo scores is in its ease of use during live performance, where you don’t want to be fiddling around, trying to clamp the device onto your fretboard.
It’s also available in a rather fetching array of exotic designs. Titles such as including Hawaiian Lei, Pastel Hibiscus and Red Hibiscus don’t give much away, but are nonetheless rather attractive if you want to stand out from the crowd.
The more conservative user may want to stick to their simple, yet elegant all-black model as pictured above. Kyser have a long history of manufacturing one-handed Quick-Change capos, dating back some forty years to the original quick release guitar models designed by Milton Kyser (hence the name!).
Like Shubb, Kyser are considered to be league leaders in the manufacture of higher-priced professional devices for a number of different fretted instruments.
Although not specifically a ukulele capo, in the following YouTube video, Josh Turner (along with ‘Other Favorites’ partner, Carson McKee) demonstrates how to utilize a Kyser Quick-Change Capo at some not inconsiderable speed in the middle of their cover version of Vampire Weekend’s ‘Harmony Hall’!
Best Baritone Ukulele Capo
Shubb C9B Ukulele Capo
I very much like the Shubb C9B with its simple, yet reliably solid construction. It’s also one of only two models to feature a thumbscrew mechanism, as opposed to the more prevalent spring-based clamping system.
Shubb have been around a while and have rightly been credited with producing some of the longest-lasting capos on the market. You can almost guarantee when you purchase a Shubb, it’s likely to last through a lifetime’s heavy use.
The thumb screw mechanism isn’t for everybody, however and can be little bit fiddly if you want a capo which you can whip on and off during live performance. It’s also a good choice if you have a weaker grip and have trouble using a spring-based model.
Other than the baritone uke, the C9B is also suitable for other sizes of ukulele, including the soprano, concert and tenor. A big plus for the Shubb is its ability to vary the amount pressure needed to clamp the strings onto the fretboard.
You don’t always need a capo to apply pressure like a heavy duty vice, as long as the strings are clamped down accurately and without causing fret buzz. With the spring-based models, you only have one level of pressure which can’t be adjusted.
Best Soprano Ukulele Capo
Planet Waves PW-CP-12 NS Pro
When it comes to the smaller models in the ukulele family such as the soprano, sopranino and the even tinier sopranissimo, the last thing you want is to have a large bulky device weighing down the neck of your instrument.
In that regard alone, the Planet Waves PW-CP-12 NS Pro will fit the bill for a lot of people, despite its rather tortuous title! Unlike some of the other the uke capos in this review, the Planet Waves model only comes in black, which maybe a bit utilitarian for some people’s tastes. Personally, I rather like that traditional look over silver or gold.
This model is also likely to be suitable for a mandolin, if you want to kill two birds with one stone. The Planet Waves capo sits at the lower end of the price spectrum, which will no doubt attract a lot of people wanting to save a bit of money on accessories, yet not stint on reliable functionality.
Like the Shubb, the Planet Waves capo is the only other one to feature the variable pressure thumb screw mechanism.
Best Value Ukulele Capo
Rinastore Ukulele Capo
The Rinastore model features a nice contoured body, making it a comfortable device to take on and off, without digging into your hand every time you do it. Like a lot of products today, this particular model is East Asian in origin. This generally allows the manufacturers to offer decent quality products at a lower price, compared with similar models, manufactured closer to home.
Obviously, it’s all down to personal taste but I prefer the slightly subtler bronze color offered by the Rinastore than the harsher gold or silver found on a lot of other capos.
Despite its lower price point, the Rinastore is a nicely built capo which feels as if it’s likely to have decent longevity. The last thing you want is to have your device falling to bits in the middle of a set!
For the price, this model is unlikely disappoint all but the most professional of users.
Best Capo for Ukulele AND Guitar
Donner Guitar Capo DC-3
To be honest, I thought twice about including this category, as I tend to take the view that a one size fits all device is likely to be a compromise with at least one of your instruments. You can read more here about my opinion on using guitar capos on a ukulele.
Saying that, I do realize that an occasional uke player who spends ninety-five percent of his or her time noodling away on guitar, may not want to pay big bucks for a specialist capo. It’s also something else to lose or mislay!
So with a view to this sector of the buying public in mind, a nice basic choice is the Donner DC-3 Guitar capo.
Donner also manufacture decent lower-end ukuleles, so there is a healthy connection there to the smaller instrument. I would add one word of caution, though and that is any capo made for a guitar is going to be a little too bulky and weighty for a soprano uke in my opinion.
Remember, the shorter the scale length of your instrument, the narrower the gap between the frets, making it a challenge to form some of the fingering positions towards the lower end of the fretboard.
That being said, the DC-3 is still a nice capo and if doesn’t suit your purpose, you haven’t wasted a sizeable amount of money on it.
I hope this helps you choose your ukulele-specific capo. If you want to know how to make one yourself, how to fit the capo properly to your uke, or just want a list of songs that are good to play with a capo, head to my complete guide on ukulele capos for more info.