A ukulele capo (short for capotasto) will raise the pitch of your ukulele so that you can play in a different key without having to transpose chords or totally change you uke’s tuning.
I’ll be providing a short guide to using a ukulele capo after covering 5 of the best models available right now.
- Best Ukulele Capo Overall: D’Addario Planet Waves NS Ukulele Capo Pro
- Best Spring-Loaded Capo: Rinastore Single-Handed Ukulele Trigger Capo
- Best Budget Ukulele Capo: Mini-Size Spring Loaded Capo
- Best C Clamp Ukulele Capo: Shubb L9 Ukulele Capo GC-20UL
- Best One-Handed Ukulele Capo: Kyser Quick Change Capo
Types of Ukulele Capos
There are a few different types of ukulele capos, and everyone has a preference. Capos aren’t terribly expensive so if budget isn’t a big deal, you might want to try the various types and see which one you like best.
Personally, I’m a fan of the D’Addario NS Ukulele Capo Pro, but that’s just me. Every type of capo comes with some pros and cons.
If you’re on a super tight budget, then you might like an elastic ukulele capo best. Also known as a toggle capo, this is basically a wide piece of elastic with a piece of stiffer material that holds your strings in place.
You put it on by wrapping it around the uke’s neck. I’m not going to include any of these in this guide to the best ukulele capos and here’s why: Elastic capos are easy to throw in your bag and they’re really cheap (usually around $5) but they break easily and they have a tendency to cause your uke to go out of tune pretty quickly.
Go ahead and get one if you want! Some people really like them and you might, too. I haven’t tried this Bill Russell elastic capo from Jim Dunlop but it gets good reviews overall, and it would be my pick for best toggle capo / elastic capo if I was going to include one here.
Spring Loaded Capo
Spring loaded ukulele capos are common and most people like using them. One downside is that there’s a sizeable handle, which can be a bit bulky. Most spring-loaded capos are inexpensive, easy to use, and pretty well-rated. You simply clamp it into place and start playing. I like the Kyser quick change capo best in this category. Although it’s not my favorite capo overall, it’s great for tough barre chords and it’s lightning fast.
While C-Clamp ukulele capos are a bit more expensive than simpler ones, they offer the advantage of allowing you to adjust the amount of pressure that’s being placed on your strings, and there’s no handle to worry about.
One caveat here: If you decide to go for a C-Clamp capo, double-check to make sure that the padded portion is in contact with you ukulele’s neck while you’re tightening. Otherwise, the metal might cause some scratches to the finish. C-Clamp ukulele capos are best for transposing entire songs – they’re not designed for quick changes.
NS Ukulele Capo Pro
This is a newer type of ukulele capo that combines the best features of the spring-loaded capo and the C-Clamp capo. It’s secure, adjustable, and well-padded, plus it has a low profile so there’s nothing too bulky attached to your uke’s neck. Like C-Clamp capos, this style is meant for transposing and not for quick changes.
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Best Ukulele Capo: Five to Consider
D’Addario Planet Waves NS Ukulele Capo Pro
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Rinastore Single-Handed Ukulele Trigger Capo
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Mini-Size Spring Loaded Capo
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Shubb L9 Ukulele Capo GC-20UL
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Kyser Quick Change Capo
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Here’s a quick rundown of five of the best ukulele capos on the market right now. Every category except toggle / elastic capo is represented here so it’s easy to find one that’s right for you.
#1 D’Addario Planet Waves NS Ukulele Capo Pro – Best Ukulele Capo Overall
The D’Addario Planet Waves NS capo pro is designed just for ukuleles. It’s made from aircraft-grade aluminum for a combination of light weight and durability, and the adjuster increases and decrease tension by micrometers. The entire surface is padded, so your instrument’s finish and strings are protected. At just a little more than $10 this capo is a great value, too.
- Superb adjustability eliminates fret buzz
- Stays put
- Low profile – doesn’t get in the way
- Fits most ukuleles and banjoleles – great for all sizes
- Not designed for quick changes
- Costs a bit more than spring-loaded capos
#2 Rinastore Single-Handed Ukulele Trigger Capo – Best Spring-Loaded Capo
The Rinastore Single-Handed use trigger capo offers an updated take on the classic spring-loaded capo. Made with lightweight alloy, it features a stout spring and protective silicone pads that cover all the surfaces that come into contact with your instrument. This capo comes in a few different colors, and it’s backed by a one-year guarantee. It’s my top pick for best spring-loaded ukulele capo.
- Good grip, nice tension level
- Pads prevent scratching
- Easy to use and easy to move
- Costs a little more than simpler trigger capos
- One customer with a double-stringed tenor ukulele mentioned terrible fret buzz, but only when playing a double-string instrument
#3 Mini-Size Spring Loaded Capo – Best Cheap Ukulele Capo
At way under $10, this mini-size spring loaded capo from an Amazon seller called “Ukulele Capo” is my pick for best cheap ukulele capo. It’s designed to offer a firm grip on your strings, and it’s well-padded so your instrument isn’t likely to be scratched during use. The spring is of good quality, and it comes in a few attractive colors.
- Easy to change position with one hand
- Metal handles, not plastic.
- Great for soprano and concert ukes
- Might not fit larger ukuleles or banjo ukuleles well
- Finish feels pretty slippery
- A few reports of manufacturing defects
#4 Shubb L9 Ukulele Capo GC-20UL – Best C Clamp Ukulele Capo
The Shubb L9 Ukulele C-Clamp capo is made with aircraft-grade aluminum. Designed to fit soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone ukuleles, it will even accommodate those with wider fretboards. The pads are soft, resilient, and replaceable, and the adjustable tension helps you get the sound you want from your instrument. This fantastic capo is made in America by a well-respected manufacturer that’s been in business for decades and many players agree that it’s by far the best ukulele C-clamp capo out there.
- Low-profile and lightweight
- Easy to adjust
- Might not fit ukes with thinner than-average necks; one report that it was too loose on a tenor Kanile’a
- Can’t switch positions one-handed with this type of ukulele
#5 Kyser Quick Change Capo – Best One-Handed Ukulele Capo
If you’re willing to pay a little bit more and you’re looking for rapid changes, then you are probably going to love the Kyser Quick Change Ukulele Capo. Made with lightweight aluminum an a strong steel spring, it offers a unique profile. Like other spring-loaded ukulele capos, this one can be parked on your headstock when you’re not using it. Kyser capos are made in America, and they come with lifetime guarantees.
- Excellent durability
- Comes with a lifetime guarantee
- Great for multi-instrument players – fits ukes, banjos, banjoleles, mandolins, and bouzoukis
- Priced a bit higher than market average
- Some players feel it’s too tight
How to Use a Capo With a Ukulele
It’s true that you don’t actually “need” a capo for your ukulele, but having one can help you expand your repertoire even if you have no clue how to transpose.
If you’re singing along or accompanying someone else, or even playing with other instrumentalists, adding a capo can help you raise the pitch of your ukulele. This quick guide won’t tell you everything about how to use a capo with your ukulele, but it’ll help you get started.
Use a Quick Clamp Capo to Make Barre Chords Easier
Many players have trouble with barre chords, which require you to use your index finger to cover all the strings and then form the rest of the chord with your remaining fingers. A spring-loaded capo can be used in place of your finger anywhere on your fretboard.
It’s going to take you some time to get used to clamping your capo into place quickly but once you get the motion down, you’ll find that barre chords are way easier to play.
Change Pitch with a Capo
You can use any capo to change the pitch of your ukulele. Moving one fret down from the nut gives you a ½ step change, i.e. a C will sound like a C sharp. Moving two frets gives you a whole step change, i.e. a C will sound like a D. You can put your capo anywhere to change the key or pitch of songs you’re playing.
The best way to learn how to transpose with a capo is to play around, listen to the notes, and maybe take a lesson or two! This is an awesome tool that basically lets you move your nut so you can play familiar songs and chords in different keys.
It’s not a substitute for learning new chords but it’s going to help you enjoy your instrument more, especially when you get together with others and you want to play along in a different key. Enjoy!