There's a song I want to play (in C) where the verse sounds best played on regular 1st-fret chords and the chorus sounds great using chords around the 8th fret - I can't barre them all reliably enough so would normally capo on fret 8 and transpose the chords from C to E.

But playing alone, I can't switch the capo fast enough. So I wondered if capos exist which can be placed on the desired fret without actually pressing the strings, so you can "turn the capo on/off" without actually moving it? I can see in my mind that it's mechanically possible but have no idea if it exists, or what it would be called so I can search for it.

Anyone know?

  • Years ago I saw a device that screwed to the headstock and could be folded over to mute the strings by resting a pad on them, generally behind the first fret. Note it was ONLY a string mute for tapping, not a capo. Perhaps something like this could be built, but it would need a very long lever arm to reach the 8th fret! Another possibility is a doubleneck but that would be a slow changeover... or a 2nd guitar on an upright stand (in playing position)?
    – Andy
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 15:45
  • 2
    Even when you can barre well enough a capo will give a different timbre to those chords, particularly on acoustic.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 15:49
  • A capo will generally affect the tuning as well. You'd be better off improving your barre technique, or having your guitar's action seen to if it is too high.
    – user207421
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 0:23
  • While being able to play barre chords perfectly is always worth aiming for, playing an entire song using exclusively full barre chords is something that's very hard to achieve. And as @Tim says it still won't sound the same. In addition if you capo, you can play voicings that are simply impossible with a barre.
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 9:43

2 Answers 2


Yes. You can use a spider capo for this kind of things.

enter image description here

Generally, it is used for alternate tunings. Like if you only want to capo 2 or 3 strings, but you can capo all 6 of them and then remove all of them.

Here is a video review:


  • That's very cool but not exactly what I'm after - I want the ability to leave the capo in place but toggle all strings at once. I suppose you can toggle all 'fingers' at once on the Spider but I'm not sure that's perfect.
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 14:58
  • 2
    @Mr.Boy Depending on how that thing is constructed exactly, could you perhaps glue the tumblers together in your preferred setting so you can easily switch them all at once? Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 17:33

Amalgamating the answers and comments. Play standard in open chord form at the nut end of the fingerboard, with a Spider capo fixed on the 8th fret. With it there, but none of the cams operational, all the 'open' chords will still work. At chorus time, flick all the cams on, and assume 'barre' chords, which will be E and A shape, I guess, with the capo being the 'nut'.

As suggested by Pepijn, a bar across the fingers of the capo would make the flick easier. Maybe Spider can come up with an adaptor. But it shouldn't be too difficult to fashion a small bar to join all the fingers of the Spider. Then it's just familiarization. There may be one or two tuning issues with it - often capos detune (untune?) a little.

  • Sounds like it should be workable. As well as the standard A & E chords (which as pointed out could be played as barred F & C on 8th fret) I play an open B chord 2 frets up from the capo to give my G and an open C#m 4 frets up to give Am - these cannot be played without a capo, only the fully barred versions.
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 14:54

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