How to Use a Banjo Capo

Capos are an invaluable tool for banjo players. They allow them to switch keys effortlessly without retuning the fifth string each time.

A sliding Shubb capo is a thin rail that attaches to your neck, featuring a metal “finger” which tightens or loosens with an adjustment screw to position itself at any fret on your guitar’s neck. They come in various lengths that cover up to seven or eight frets for maximum flexibility.


An easily and quickly adjustable banjo capo is key to playing songs in their correct keys without constantly having to retune. Clamp capos often leave your strings with uneven contact or noise, so the best banjo capos are designed so they can easily move around the fretboard while maintaining even pressure on each string – the Kyser banjo capo is an outstanding example of such a quality capo that provides consistent tension and tuning stability.

Shubb C5 original banjo capo ($25). This adjustable screw capo offers precise control, slim design, and is easy to use on both flat-necked banjos as well as those with radiused necks. Furthermore, there is even a specific variation designed to work specifically on radiused necks!

Some players opt for a sliding fifth string capo. This device consists of a long bar mounted with screws onto the side of their neck with an attached mechanical “finger” that can be loosed using a thumbscrew and moved along its length for fretting the fifth string at any fret. These capos tend to be more expensive but provide quick and effortless action.

Spikes may also be useful, especially for guitarists. These small metal wire pieces hook beneath the fifth string to raise it to different frets quickly and easily; popular among pickers who frequently change keys in songs or bands that play diverse styles of music, they require frequent maintenance to remain effective; making this an expensive and complex option for serious professional banjoists but offering an inexpensive and simple option for beginner or casual banjoists alike.


Capo allows for easier and quicker key changes without needing to retune, while there are various kinds of capos on the market – each offering their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Be sure to understand how your banjo and capo work together so you can use them efficiently without damaging strings.

Every type of capo can affect tuning to some degree, so it is crucial that you experiment to find one that works best with your banjo. An electronic tuner may also come in handy here – once you find one where the least affected strings appear, you should be able to switch keys without needing to retune between songs!

Many banjo players employ a capo to raise the pitch of the fifth string, enabling it to harmonize more closely with chords played on other four strings. To achieve this effect, it is crucial that one understands which notes the fifth string can play and which chords it could clash with.

An G chord tuned to F clashes badly with D and A chords; however, by placing the capo at fret 5, you can quickly make it sound more like a G and reduce any potential clashing issues.

Capos are one of the easiest and fastest ways to quickly switch keys while playing on stage, making capos essential for banjo players who wish to make use of this style of music. Many professional banjoists even modify their instruments in order to switch keys more quickly.

Shubb capos are well known for their innovative over-center locking action, offering unrivaled power, speed, accuracy and ease of use. You can snap it solidly onto any banjo neck in just seconds before quickly unlatching and taking it off again – ideal for banjos with radiused fingerboards! They also make for very effective practice sessions!


Many banjo players utilize a sliding fifth string capo on their necks. These capos feature an adjustable thin rail with a thumbscrew to reach any particular fret on the fingerboard, with its metal “finger” then tightened down artificially fingering the fifth string at that fret. Some players choose short sliding Shubb caps that only cover 5 frets while others use longer versions covering 7 or 8 frets or more.

This type of capo requires some skill and experience to use effectively, but is the optimal choice when playing various keys on a banjo in different keys, especially with an open fifth string that would otherwise be hard to reach using traditional fifth string nuts or frets. Some players opt for temporary clamp or hook-style capos that hold down strings temporarily; however these are easy to lose and may not provide as effective tuning up or muting effects than sliding, permanent caps.

Shubb BC-20, designed by musicians for musicians, remains one of the most popular sliding fifth string capos for banjos. It mounts to a slim dovetailed bar that fits flush against your banjo neck for easy and secure mounting; and uses lever pressure rather than spring tension to allow precise intonation without impacting tone or buzzing the string.

Shubb BC-20 offers exceptional precision and functionality when it comes to sliding fifth string capos, but other models might require more work to adjust in or out. One potential drawback could be bulkiness.

Some players also employ little railroad spike capos, real HO gauge model railroad spikes pushed into predetermined frets to temporarily secure the fifth string. While not as convenient or effective, they can help prevent tuning issues, are relatively cheap to install and can be removed easily between songs or sessions.


Misuse of a banjo capo can result in serious harm to your instrument. Use should only be undertaken when absolutely necessary and after being moved to its appropriate fret each time before use; otherwise it could shorten vibrating length of strings too much while raising their pitch too quickly, creating an unpleasant sound which ruins any song played with it.

Misplacement can also throw your strings out of tune higher up the neck. To prevent this from happening, ensure that the capo is placed directly adjacent to the desired fret and not above it; clamp gently so as to evenly apply pressure across all strings in your banjo capo.

Many banjo players employ a capo on the fifth string to facilitate key changes when performing songs that require it, as well as to prevent string breakage at pre-selected frets. Although expensive, capos are effective and safe if used according to specific steps.

A quality banjo capo should provide a secure, adjustable fit that resists wear over time and be made from materials which reduce tension on strings and fingerboard, keeping the tone clear and bright. Furthermore, they should be easy to use and work on various neck types and widths.

Screw-on capos are considered the go-to choice among banjo capos, offering reliable performance across a range of styles and applications. Their reliable design makes them suitable for use with either four or five strings without overtightening or loosening; their size makes them suitable for various neck sizes; they’re even resistant to temperature changes, providing even pressure distribution across every string – an essential choice for any banjo player!