Out of tune with a capo

Hi Everyone,

I have hardly used the capo up to now. I started learning the song « Rise » by Gabrielle which is actually a sample of « knocking on heaven’s door ». The capo goes on the 1st fret.

My problem is that when I play along to the original or to Justin in the video lesson, my guitar sounds horribly out of tune with the capo. So I checked it with a tuner and sure enough the notes are sharper than they should be.

I have a Squier classic vibe 60’s tele with tallish frets. I can see that the capo pushes the strings down so hard that they are bent out of tune. So I tried to put the capo as close as possible to the fret and even on the fret. It helps a bit but not enough to sound fully in tune to the original or to Justin.

So my questions are: Am I doing something wrong? Do I have the wrong sort of capo, i.e. is it pushing down to hard on the strings? If so what is the right capo for a guitar like this? Is it the fret height that’s the problem? I.e. if I had frets that were not so tall, would I reduce/eliminate this problem?

Any advice very welcome.


Hi Ian,
That’s very common and Justin often emphasizes that you should always retune your guitar when you put your Capo on it… I don’t understand why that goes well with the people on TV Although I often see them being re-tuned… some guitars have it worse than others. but I always have to retune my 4 guitars when I put one on (I have 4 different capo`s but now I only use one for 3 years)

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  1. Capo radius should match your guitar’s fretboard radius
  2. Put it as close to a fret as possible
  3. After it’s on - press down the strings with your right hand
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Also with tall frets you might want to use a capo with adjustable tension. Shub, D’Addario…


Not all electric guitars take too kindly to capo 1. You shouldn’t even have to capo 1 to be honest. Move higher up the neck or play without it. The idea of having to match a song as recorded or plotted on a sheet of paper is very limiting --find your own voice.


Pleased you said that @CT. I actually prefer to play it without a capo and can sing it fine. As a beginner, it’s just nice sometimes to play along to a track with other musicians to try and keep in time.


Would heavier strings make a difference also? hold the tension better? Maybe that is not what Ian wants anyway but I am having a similar issue without capo.

I swap back and forth between acoustic and eclectic pretty frequently and I find I really need to monitor how firm I am gripping when I make the change. Particularly with barre chords and also very low down on the high E string. On the electric I really need to hold very lightly or I can make the who guitar sound out of tune, versus when I swap to acoustic I have to press down a lot harder to avoid the buzz. If I put lighter strings on the acoustic and heavier on the electric would that make them more similar? and would that also help solve Ian’s issue with the capo?

I have 3 capo’s. One I don’t use, the other two I use but they are different.

That sounds like a no brainer … next time I will look out for that :roll_eyes:

Maybe collect them all and donate them ,I think there are thousands of “wrongly” purchased capos in the Netherlands alone :grimacing:… although I have 2 that are not worth sending if you live outside the Netherlands … well, if you are reading this and you live in the Netherlands and you want to try a capo and the Quality (ease of use was the problem for me) doesn’t matter to you and money is a problem, then I’ll send it to you …



I use the Dunlop pivot capo. Unlike the spring-loaded one I used before, you can put it on only as snug as needed, instead of clamping down so hard that it pulls the strings sharp.


Wow, Rogier!!!

I never realized that living in a country that’s below sea level would create such interesting problems :roll_eyes: - although it’s a pretty good excuse - “I sound out of tune because of the altitude where I live & it causes my capos to react strangely”…

Hey, it’s over a mile high at my house!!! Maybe THAT’S WHY I play out of tune so much!!! I think that’s the answer!!! :crazy_face:

Thanks for the solution to my dilemma Rogier!!! It was there all along but I needed your help to figure it out!!! :+1: :+1: :+1:



Couldn’t you just tune up a half step to play along?

That’s a lot more hassle than just putting on a capo and taking it back off after you’re done. And that would change every note placement on the fret board messing you up for soloing and fills.

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Fair point :wink:

Never heard about radius tip, but makes sense to me. However, I can’t find anyone advertising different fret radius capos. :slight_smile: Which ones you use for different frets?

Thalia capos come with a set of different rubbers.
And each capo has radius stated somewhere.
Classical capo is straight. Martin guitars usually have 15" radius, Taylors - 14"…

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I will take a look, thank you! :blush:

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G7th is also designed to work with different neck radius (and I have few different necks :rofl: ). Its users ART technology https://www.g7th.com/what-is-art



I’ve watched enough videos on the subject of capos to be fairly sure there’s no such thing as the perfect capo. It doesn’t matter whether you spend pennies or break the bank for a high end one, they’re all imperfect (obviously some are more imperfect than others).

That is the one I use … :sunglasses: like it a lot ,but always need to tune …
and it turns out that one of my capos has a nice curvature, but then I also have to tune it, and one is straight, hard plastic with a tight clamp screw. :grimacing:

I have no problems with it at all and if I ever have to perform and I need to change a song with a capo on it, I will buy another guitar that is ready with it. :innocent: I will call that “The Madman Trick” :joy:

Greetings , and after four o clock I should get my :heart: `s back

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