Straighten a curved capo




Because Jesse is a wonderful singer, I end up playing a lot of guitar, and in weird keys, so a capo is a must.  I've recently come across this style from Planet Waves and can thoroughly recommend it.  The pressure is adjustable and the lever action snappy, unlike the heavy capos of the past.

But I still had an issue - the middle strings of my guitar would buzz unless I had the capo pressure up quite high, while the outside strings only needed the lightest pressure.  As you can see in the image, the capo is curved, but clearly my Yamaha steel string guitar's fingerboard is not quite so curved.

It occurred to me that it shouldn't be a big deal to straighten the clamping surface a little so that it fitted the guitar more naturally.  Then I could get away with less clamping pressure which would probably be better for maintaining the intonation as the capo was moved up the neck.

I quickly put aside any thoughts of straightening the metal part, as I suspect the capo is made from cast aluminium, and that stuff can be very brittle.  I could be wrong, but I wasn't prepared to gamble!

I did Google searches like "straighten bent capo" but didn't find any useful advice, so hence this note in case it helps you.  Again I could be wrong, but duplication is better than abrogation!

So that left the rubber, and I opted for sanding it lightly on a linisher (belt sander).  Hand sanding with coarse paper wrapped around a block or file would probably work too, or even very careful carving with a very sharp knife.  I think the thing is to go very lightly, testing often, and being careful to take only the bits you want off.  You can always do a little more later if you decide you didn't take off enough.  It's hard to put back.

The whole job took just a few seconds, and now I can run the capo at just a bit above minimum tension and it clamps all strings securely.  The capo doesn't really look any different, which shows how little I took off, and therefore how critical it is that the curve of the clamping rubber approximates the curve of the fingerboard.  One of those many jobs in life that take only a few seconds, but leave you wondering: "why did I wait so long before doing that?"!

Hope that helps!


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Created 21 November 2013