I've noticed that the capos for electric/acoustic guitars and classical guitars are different. For example, classical guitar capos are flat, while electric/acoustic guitar capos are curved.

Is there any risk of damaging the instrument if I use a capo designed for the other type of guitar? Classical capos on electric/acoustic guitars, or electric/acoustic capos on classical guitars? If there's no risk, will it work correctly?

3 Answers 3


Using a curved capo on a flat fretboard or a flat capo on a curved fretboard may not damage the instrument, but it definitely will not work correctly as previous answers have detailed.

For others who may read this post seeking the answer to the same question who are like me (visual learners), I have provided some pictures below to illustrate the problem that will result from using the wrong capo.

enter image description here A capo designed for use on a curved fretboard would conform to the fretboard and apply equal pressure against all frets as shown in the image above (exaggerated for effect).

enter image description here A curved capo applied to a flat fretboard would apply pressure only to the frets closest to the edge of the fretboard and fail to adequately make contact with the center strings resulting in muting of these strings. Diagram is exaggerated to better illustrate the concept.

enter image description here Conversely (no pun intended), a flat capo on a curved fretboard would fail to properly contact the outer strings causing them to be muted.

The other problem you might encounter is - a typical classical guitar fretboard is significantly wider than an electric guitar or steel string acoustic guitar fretboard. So the length of the capo for acoustic steel string guitar may be too short for a classical guitar.

Just as a classical guitar requires different strings than a steel string acoustic or electric guitar, it also requires a different capo.


I suppose you might scratch the back of the neck if using a clamp-on that is too small (i.e. meant for thin neck, used on thick neck). But that might happen anyway if you are not careful.

As you say, the curvature of capos is different for different applications. So when using a capo meant for a curved fretboard (e.g. electric) on a flat fretboard (e.g. classical/spanish) the capo won't clamp down properly on all strings and vice versa.


It's going to depend on what sort of capo. There are several different designs on the market, some of which rely purely on a spring to work. On a classical guitar with a beefier neck, they may be too tight. This isn't going to be a problem for the neck, but the tuning will suffer.

The bigger problem is the shape of the fingerboard. A capo meant for a cambered fingerboard wil hold the outer strings on a classiccal tighter than the middle ones. Not so good. And a flat capo on a cambered 'board will do the opposite. Again, not so good.

As far as damage, no big deal, but looking at cost, isn't it worth just getting one for each?

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