Can You Use a Guitar Capo on a Mandolin?


Even though the mandolin is a common instrument used in certain types of music, you probably haven’t seen or heard it played very often. The mandolin’s appearance and sound may be familiar to followers of bluegrass, country, and other folk music styles, as well as classical music. If you play the guitar and are curious about learning the mandolin, one of the questions that may cross your mind is whether or not mandolins use capos.

Yes. Mandolins do make use of capos. They function similarly to a pitch raiser found on the guitar and are therefore used for this purpose. These are utilized frequently to facilitate the easier transposition of songs into various keys. Also, you can change the mandolin’s key with a capo, but the chord positions will remain the same.

Now let’s look more into capos and mandolins for a better understanding. Shall we?

What is a capo?

If you’ve ever strummed a guitar, chances are you’ve come across one of these. A capo is a device that musicians attach to the neck of a strung (and typically fretted) instrument to keep the instrument in tune while playing. Capo tasto, capodastro, or the “head of the fretboard” are some of the more common terms for this guitar part.

Capos are usually applied after the instrument has been tuned to ensure that all strings are subjected to the same pressure. This technique can raise the instrument’s pitch by shortening and rearranging the strings.

To play the same chords in a different key, musicians want to raise the pitch of their instruments. Creating a “nut” on the higher-fret instruments is what it looks like.

What Instruments Usually Make Use of Capos?

Capos are most frequently used on string instruments that have frets. That is so because the capo allows them to function most efficiently. As a general rule of thumb, the guitar, ukulele, banjo, and mandolin are the most common stringed instruments that require a capo.

How many types of mandolins are there?

There are two main types of mandolins. Each variety has a signature characteristic that makes it look unmistakably distinct from the others. These are;

  • The A style is typically shaped like a pear and has no points or an ornamental scroll on the headstock.
  • The F style has a scroll on the headstock, close to the neck, and two points on the lower body of the instrument.

Do Capos make a difference?

The guitar’s overall tone is altered due to a capo in the equation. You’ll notice that the guitar gets lighter as you go up the neck.

To change the keys, you need only move the capo up the neck of the instrument. You (or another person) can alter the pitch of a song in this way so that it better fits your (or their) vocal range.

What are the different types of Capos?

A capo was first used in 1640 by the Italian musicologist Giovanni Battista Doni. It wasn’t until 1850 that James Ashborn patented the capo design.

Capos have evolved since then, and there are now several different models. The different types of capos are:

Trigger capos

Trigger capos work in a manner that is analogous to the clip that is used to close a bag of chips. The clamp-on trigger capo is opened, and the capo is placed over the desired fret on the instrument’s neck. Then the clamp is released, which clamps the capo down on the neck.

Aside from being easy to use, secure attachment, and high quality, trigger capos are some of the most popular for live performances. That is because they can be quickly moved and often prove helpful and necessary.

Spring capo

The spring capo is similar in design to the trigger capo, but the spring mechanism it employs is a little more complex. These are also standard capos because they are simple to use (especially if you only have one hand free). The spring capo is more durable than trigger capos but still prone to intonation issues.

Adjustable screw capo

It is one of the oldest capos, with a screw mechanism that can be adjusted whenever needed. Your instrument’s neck is progressively pressed as you turn a screw that brings an arm closer to its rear. That secures the capo and distributes the pressure evenly across the string’s lengths.

The adjustable screw capo style keeps your instrument in tune and is less jerky than spring and trigger capos. Moreover, it is relatively inexpensive.

Strap Capo

Strap capos are attached to the neck of the instrument by wrapping an elastic band around a bar. Strap capos can also be fitted by pulling a strap tight around the instrument’s neck.

A strap capo is an excellent option because they’re cheap and easy to use. The straps, however, have a propensity to degrade rapidly over time.

Toggle capo

A toggle capo is a type of guitar capo that looks and functions similarly to a strap capo. To keep a capo in place, you must snap a toggle shut after pulling the strap to the desired tightness.

The toggle capo is also fairly inexpensive; however, the toggle mechanism has the potential to pull strings out of tune on occasion.

Yoke-style capo

The yoke-style capo increases the pressure on your neck by screwing it into the back of the instrument’s neck. To attach the capo to your instrument, you need to open a hinged pad that presses against the strings.

You can screw these capos onto your instrument with the evenest pressure of any capo style. However, there is some difficulty in getting them on, but once they are fastened, the fit is excellent and can be easily adjusted.

Partial capo

Instead of applying pressure to the entire string set like most capos, partial capos only apply pressure to a small portion of the strings. Depending on the instrument you’re playing, you’ll have to choose which strings to press down with a partial capo and which ones to leave uncovered (on six-stringed instruments).

Why use Capo on Mandolin?

When it comes to playing the mandolin, using a capo (especially by mandolin obsessives) is often considered controversial or even ‘wrong.’ However, capos can enhance a mandolin’s performance at certain times.

Capo on Mandolin

Capos are used on mandolins to achieve a specific sound that is impossible if you are playing the instrument ‘open’ (without a capo). As a result, they’re often helpful for guitar newbies because they make the frets closer together.

Are there types of capos made explicitly for use on a mandolin?

To get the most out of your mandolin’s capos, you’ll want to get one specifically designed for the instrument. Some of these examples are:

  1. SHUBB C5R Standard Capo
  2. PAIGE Banjo/Mandolin Capo
  3. Kyser Quick-Change
  4. X2 Capo
  5. The Wingo Capo

You should use a capo if you want to and if you like how it changes your instrument’s sound.


Capos are compatible with mandolins. The combination of your mandolin and capo can produce some pleasant-sounding melodies. However, the tunes can be heard if you have the right kind of capo and are able to use it appropriately.

Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

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