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I recently saw a capo (I think) that had something like teeth(?) that the player changed while he played. I'm not sure what its purpose was. (I'm really not sure how to explain it) -- If I'm not mistaken, you choose what chords to capo and which to leave open.

My question is this: How many different types of capo exist?

(minor addendum) Here is the capo I was talking about:

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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think @Tim already answer your first question.

Yes, it's a spider capo, which can grab only selected strings, so you can do some cool stuff.

There are:

  • Normal capo, obviously which holds all of the strings.
  • Slider capo or roller capo, it can slide easily from one fret to another fret without releasing the capo from holding the neck.
  • Spider capo, I explained that above.

By the way, the normal capo, the back side of it, you can use it as 3-string capo or you can use the front side as banjo capo which holds 5-string.

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  • Clamp capo (above called a normal capo) is a spring capo that clamps over the strings. Kysers are my preferred clamp capo these days.

  • Shubb capo uses a screw and a locking lever to attach the capo to the guitar neck.

  • Band capo is a capo secured by an elastic or fabric band that clamps over the strings. You can slide an elastic band capo up and down the neck without removing it.

  • Partial capo fits over a set of strings. These can be made by cutting chunks of rubber out of a standard clamp capo or by using a clamp capo (such as for banjos) that is narrower than a guitar neck. Shubbs and Kysers are commonly used as partial capos. I have seen in performance up to two partial and one full clamp capo on a guitar neck.

  • Rail spike capo often used by banjo players for capo-ing the drone 5th string. It's a small L-shaped nail nailed into the banjo fretboard. The banjo player tucks the string under the L.

  • G-band capo is a small plastic clamp that capos outer guitar strings.

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1  
That's good, there's a distinction between the Kyser style, which use a spring (which will squeeze as tight as it's built and might pull the strings sharp, but are easy to take on and off) and a screw (Shubbs being the first to mind) which can be adjusted to squeeze only as tight as needed. I know of a screw-tightened capo that wraps around the neck and is left "tightened" to the nut when not in use. –  VarLogRant Jun 2 at 18:28
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Also, band-style capos need not be elastic; my old band-style capo has a non-elastic nylon band and is similar to this: sweetwater.com/store/detail/ProCapoCurv –  VarLogRant Jun 2 at 18:32
    
Thanks VarLog. Edits added. –  Kevin Johnsrude Jun 2 at 18:46

Can't answer your question per se, but to enlighten about that particular capo. It's a SPIDER, and can be used on just about any guitar, including, obviously, bass (Up to 6 string!). The idea is that it can, if so desired, capo as many or few strings as necessary. For instance, if one wanted,say, the E and A on bass to remain as open low notes, but needed to capo 5th fret on D and G, it could be set up thus.Then one could have effectively different tunings. Why, I'm not sure, as if one wanted to play E open and G# and B on the top two strings, one could do it anyway.And if one wants to play high up, one maybe should be on a guitar... bottom four strings, with a capo should one wish to go even higher.Frets may be too narrow then, though.

The most rudimentary capo for guitar is a pencil and a rubber band. A bendy pencil works best on a cambered fingerboard.Googling 'capo' brings up all sorts, mostly doing the same job, but some in very ingenious ways, like the G7 - how does that work then ?

After listening to the gorgeous playing in the clip, I wonder what the capo was doing. If it moved everything up one fret, why bother. If it was to re-tune a string or two, why not just re-tune a string or two? Or did I miss something? There is a probability that the 'teeth' can be flicked over to produce a different tuning, not sure.

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If you can capo some strings and leave some of them open like you say, it wouldn't be same as retuning. The tuning would stay the same but open strings would sound differently. I can see how it's useful. –  cyco130 May 28 at 16:08
    
One of the purposes of a capo, on an ordinary guitar, is to take the place of a barre finger. Doing so tends to make the 'open' strings sound 'open'.There's a subtle difference, but there shouldn't be - some of my guitars have a zero fret which theoretically means open, they sound the same as fretted, particularly with a capo. –  Tim May 28 at 16:27
    
Caught it -- right at 1:33 he flips off the "tooth" that was fretting the D string. So he was basically using it as a single-string and instant-cancel capo. –  NReilingh May 28 at 23:43

I highly recommend the following site:

http://www.sternercapo.se/Capomuseum/

I'm sure I didn't expect that there would be a well-curated Capo Museum online. The historical perspective is unmatched.

Enjoy!

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