Everything You Need to Know About The Ukulele Capo

You might have heard your ukulele tutors mention the capo in the past or seen a strange-looking item clinging to the neck of somebody’s fretboard. What on earth is a ukulele capo?

A capo is a small tool that covers all your strings by wrapping itself around the neck. It’s an easy way to change the tuning of your ukulele at a moment’s notice. They are used by ukulele players to play chords higher up the fretboard. This means you don’t have to use your finger to barre the frets.

While not essential for a ukulele player, they can certainly make learning new songs easier. Let’s take a closer look at when they can be useful.

Cool Fact

The term capo is short for capotasto. It’s an Italian word and translates to "head of the fretboard.".

What is the purpose of the capo?

The most common use for a capo is the ability to change the key in which you are playing. In simpler terms, imagine you are playing your ukulele with a singer whose voice is naturally high in pitch. They might ask you to play your chords two steps higher.

 

Instead of learning all the new chords, you can place a capo on the 2nd fret and you will be playing everything the same, but two steps higher.

 

Another use for the capo is to replace your finger when playing barre chords. If you are learning a song and all the chords are around the 3rd fret, you can place your capo on that fret then use your fingers to fret the rest of the notes.

Should I Use One?

There’s really no reason not to if you are a beginner player. It’s going to make playing new and unfamiliar chords much easier. The feeling of accomplishment will be valuable and it’s going to make you more confident in your playing.

Having said that, it’s a good idea not to rely on the capo too much. Ultimately, they are a substitute for your finger. Being able to play all chords without any help is the ideal place to be.

Is It Ok To Use A Guitar Capo?

While it’s certainly not against the laws of physics, I would highly suggest you don’t do this. A guitar neck is much larger than a ukulele, so the guitar capo is designed to be stronger and apply more force.

Ukulele capos are designed specifically for a smaller wooden neck. You can pick them up for a cheap price, so it’s worth investing in one to avoid any unnecessary damage to your uke.

The 3 Types of Ukulele Capo

Elastic

These wrap around the neck like a bracelet. They often have notches to fit them around different sizes of ukulele necks. These are usually the cheapest capos you will find and are often low quality.

The issue with them is they tend to send your strings out of tune easily because they drag down in the direction of where you apply the notch.

Spring

These are the most efficient ukulele capos out there. They are controlled by a spring with a handle. The handle makes it super easy to change the position of the capo quickly.

If you do a lot of live playing and you are playing songs up and down the fretboard, this would be the ideal capo.

ukulele capo spring

The C Shape

These capos are the sturdiest of the three. That’s because it’s the one you have the most control over. You can adjust the level of pressure on the strings using a small screw. These are super compact and often the most expensive.

ukulele capo c clamp

The DIY Ukulele Capo

We have all been there. You are about to perform a song and your capo has disappeared. It’s a nightmare, but there is something you can do using just a hairband and a pen.

Step 1

Place the pen on the fret where you want the capo to be.

diy ukulele capo pen on fretboard

Step 2

Pull your elastic band around the bottom of the marker.

diy capo band on bottom

Step 3

Put the other side of the elastic band around the marker. If you are using a big band, it’s a good idea to do another loop.

diy capo finished and double up

It’s important to note that this is just a temporary fix and I don’t recommend using this method as a permanent capo replacement. Capos have a soft bedding that means they don’t damage the frets and strings. You can’t be sure if your marker or pen will do the same.

Summary

Using a capo can be a great way to expand your ukulele playing. It allows you to change keys effortlessly and makes learning new songs easier. While not essential, a capo can be a helpful tool for beginners and experienced players alike. Remember to use a capo designed specifically for the ukulele to avoid any damage to your instrument. Explore different types of capos to find the one that suits your playing style. If you’re ever in a pinch, a DIY capo can temporarily save the day. Happy playing!

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