Do it yourself makeshift capo
So you’re at practice, or worse yet, at a packed gig, and you get to that song. The song the singer can’t sing unless you capo at the fifth fret. You reach into your case for your trusty Kyser, Dunlop, or Shubb….and it’s gone! You know it was in there yesterday! Now what do you do??
Or maybe you finally found tab for that awesome song the cute girl in gym class likes. You’re going to learn it so you can serenade her in the parking lot – only to find out that the song requires a capo at the third fret, and you don’t have one. After you’ve broken most of your strings trying to tune your guitar up a step and a half, you figure you better buy a capo. But, you don’t have enough money for strings and a capo, so what do you do now?
Well, never fear forgetful and cash strapped guitarists! Right here we have a dead simple way of making a capo that will do in a pinch, with items you can easily find in your home, or school, or local watering hole.
First, let’s gather up the supplies we will need. The first thing will be something straight, fairly sturdy, and wider than the neck of your guitar by a couple inches or so. I like to use a pencil, but you can grab whatever works… a pen, lighter, popsicle stick, nail file, sharpie, tuning fork, half of a clothesline clip, one of your drummer’s broken sticks… whatever you have handy!
Second, we need something with some elasticity to hold your pencil (or pen, or drumstick) onto the fretboard of your guitar. Rubber bands are perfect for this, but I have used hair ties, sweatbands, even elastic out of old clothing before… just remember it has to be able to firmly hold your rigid device on the fretboard with a bit of pressure, so it has to have decent elasticity!
Now, you’re ready to assemble your DIY capo! You simply loop one end of your elastic material around one end of your rigid device.
Then, place your rigid device at the correct fret.
Now, wrap your elastic material around the other end until it’s tight enough to put sufficient pressure on the strings to act like a capo.
You may have to double up your elastic device to get enough pressure, or put several wraps on one end of your rigid device. You also may have to ’tilt’ your makeshift capo to get a good sound. The ’tilting’ is similar to the movements sometimes necessary with any capo. This is required more on low radius fretboards than on flatter fretboards. The more curved your fretboard is, you may want to use a rigid device with a little more flexibility, such as a plastic pen. Something that can bend slightly and more easily conform to the curve of the board.
And there you have it! A down-and-dirty, super easy, silly cheap, on-the-spot, do-it-yourself capo that will surely get you out of a pinch. It will get you through that practice or gig, and impress that cute girl (or guy) from gym class!
So, what say you? Have you ever used this technique? Let us know below! We’d love to hear what you used, or what situation it got you out of!