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Home Accessories How to Use an Ukulele Capo to help you Change the Key

How to Use an Ukulele Capo to help you Change the Key

Learn how to use the Capo and what's the actual purpose for using it.

by Frances Lin

Ukulele capo is a thing and we’ll show why in just a second! Are you a singer? Even if you are not, many of us sing when playing the ukulele because it brings us joy. Many ukulele players will use a tool called a “capo” in order to change the key of the song. Most of the time, capos are used to change the key of any song, so that the singer with a higher voice can sing comfortably without changing the chord shapes.

It is inconvenient to transform chord shapes constantly just because you have a higher singing voice for a song. Capos are fairly easy to use and are overall inexpensive. It really depends on the type you would like to use. If you are going to perform somewhere, you may consider purchasing a more expensive capo.

How to Use a Ukulele Capo

If you want to change the key of a song, and you want to buy a capo and start changing keys of songs (and get easier chords for those songs) you can just easily get one at the #1 ukulele store: In our store, you can find a myriad of capos for ukuleles that are sold on this site from walnut beauties to metal capos. Selecting the capo is only the first step.

Using the capo is not challenging, but there are some things to keep in mind as you begin this aspect of ukulele playing. Let’s go over the basics to walk you through the process.

The Capo and the Ukulele

Looking at the neck and fretboard, you will see the nut (usually white) running perpendicular to the neck and fretboard. It is placed below the tuners on your ukulele. Your capo will run parallel to the nut across a fret. If you place a capo on the second fret, we call this Capo 2. You can watch this video for more guidance if it will help you to picture this, but you can also see where the capo would be placed in this illustration.

Capo 2 with the F chord shape will be in the key of G. If you play an F chord with Capo 2, you will get the same pitch. It will just be higher and will complement a soprano voice a bit better. The use of the capo is simple in this case. Just clamp the capo across the second fret and play. A pro tip would be to place the capo on first and then tune your ukulele. Sometimes the capo changes the tuning when first attached to the fretboard.

Songs with the Ukulele Capo

Terry Carter walks you through using a capo to change the key of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” This will give you a good idea of what a capo does for a specific song. As a choir member of an adult community choir, I am very aware of the different pitches that are most comfortable for singers. The capo is a great remedy if you have discomfort singing a particular song.

Benefits of a Capo

Singing songs comfortably is probably the most popular reason for the use of a capo. I experimented with my favorite song to play on the ukulele, “I’m Yours.” Because I have a wide range, I can sing alto or soprano; however, a true soprano one will likely need to use the capo in order to sing a song comfortably.

Read more: How to Play the Pentatonic Scale on your Ukulele

Note that capos are not typically used to lower the key. It is predominantly used to make the pitch higher without disturbing the chord shapes you play for the song you are singing. Capos are extremely portable, and you can throw them in the pocket of your gig bag quite easily. If you are playing for other people who will sing with you, this could come in handy.

Types of Capos

Capos can be as inexpensive as you want, and it is up to you what you need based on the effects you want your ukulele playing to have. I purchased two inexpensive, spring-loaded capos, and they served my purposes. I do not change the key to songs very often, but I sang several songs with the capo. Again, I have a fairly wide range, so I adapt well without the capo; however, there are many singers who feel uncomfortable in certain keys.

Even professional singers change the keys quite often with the guitar, so it is something to keep in mind. You can also get into the more pricey capos, but again, it really depends on what you want to achieve. I think most ukulele players will be fine with an inexpensive capo. Ukulele players who play in public may experiment with many capos to see what is most appropriate for them.

Using Capos to Produce Ease in Singing

Capos can really be useful for ukulele players who want to change the key of a song to change the pitches to a higher level while keeping the same chord shapes of the song. The type of capo you use depends on your needs. Are you purchasing a capo, so others can feel more comfortable singing with you? Are you performing in public? Capos are a simple and inexpensive remedy for songs that have pitches too low for the singer and/or ukulele player. Remember to check out some of the “how-to” videos linked in this article, and enjoy singing with comfort!

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Stanley Sokolow April 27, 2022 - 6:34 pm

I have several different types of capos. The one I like best is the simple elastic-band capo called the Bill Russell capo by Dunlop. It is very compact so it doesn’t interfere with my fretting hand at all. Plus, it’s quick and easy to slide into a different fret position such as when a song modulates to a new key.

Debbie Spieth June 29, 2023 - 9:47 pm

I just received as a gift a 1922 Model o soprano Martin ukulele 3 original pegs
it’s gorgeous with the original canvas case with 3 snaps came from Pennsylvania
it was a student’s in 1924


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