Can You Use a Guitar Capo on Banjo?


A capo is usually present in every guitar lover bag. I also carry one or two guitar capos with me everywhere I go. But what to do if you have a banjo but not a banjo cap? Can you use a guitar capo on a banjo?

Yes, You can definitely use a guitar capo on banjo. I have tried a guitar capo on my banjo. Usually, it works well, but sometimes I have to wiggle it to ensure that all the strings ring clearly. You can try using a banjo capo if you have one. That would work much better. Actually, a banjo fretboard is flat, while guitar fretboards have a radius in them. That’s why sometimes you must adjust it to ensure everything is working clearly. If you are a beginner trying to use a capo on a banjo, then this guide will be helpful for you. Here we will discuss:

  • What is a capo?
  • How to use a capo on a banjo?
  • Why should I use a capo on my banjo?

What is a Capo?

If you are a singer or songwriter, you have probably heard of the capo. A capo is a small clamp-like instrument used to move the position of nuts and change the sound of the string.

What are nuts? 

Guitars and banjos have small nuts often made up of plastic, graphite, brass, bone, ivory, or other materials. These nuts hold the strings of the instrument just below the headstock.

Types of capo

The sixth string in a six-string musical instrument is always open. That’s why you can’t go any deeper. But with the help of capo, you can go higher. For example, when you hold the first fret after holding nuts with a capo, you can get an F note instead of an E note. The capo will act as a finger barring across all strings of banjo or guitar.

In old times, the capo was made of stretched elastic which can cause pain and pull the strings if not used carefully. But nowadays, capos are designed to allow you to adjust their tightness against the stings. This innovation is significant because too much tight capo can cause the strings to go sharp. On the opposite, loose strings or not enough pressure on the strings will interfere with its ringing. Here are some commonly used types of capo nowadays:

  1. Strap-on
  2. Trigger style
  3. Spring-loaded
  4. Toggle
  5. Shubb (It’s actually a top-selling capo brand that sells the best capos in town).

How to use a guitar capo on the banjo?

Using a banjo capo can help you play the instrument properly and easily. However, if you don’t have a banjo capo, then don’t worry, guitar capo can also do the job. You just have to apply and use it carefully.

capo on banjo

I was always fond of guitars and loved to play them occasionally. But recently I bought the banjo. During my session of playing banjo, I used the guitar capo to hold the strings because I didn’t have the banjo capos. And to my surprise, it worked fine. Here is how you can also apply a guitar capo on the banjo.

1. Step-by-step guide on how to place guitar capo on the banjo? 

Before learning how you can use your guitar capo on the banjo, there are a few things you must have in your bag. These are:

  • Model railroad spikes
  • A guitar capo (it would be better if you have a five-string guitar capo, but it’s not compulsory).

Now here are things that I did to place my guitar capo on the banjo, and you can also do the same:

2. Choose a capo

There are numerous capo styles which I have told you about before. If you are a guitar player like me, you would probably have more than one capo. Depending on your selected capo design, the capo will hold a bar against banjo strings using clamps, elastics, or thumb screws.

3. Choose a fret

The fret on which you place your capo depends upon the tuning of your banjo. If you are currently using open G tuning on your banjo, then place a capo on the second fret to play in the key of A. For playing banjo in the key of B, place the capo on the fourth fret.

4. Tight the capo

The next step is to tighten the capo using elastics, clamps, or thumb screws. You should hold the capo bar above the fret, between the metal frets, and then tighten it. You should make sure that the capo’s bar is pressed firmly against the strings but not too firmly to distort the strings.

Strings should not bend up or down under pressure from the capo. Similarly, they should not be loose either. A loose capo will give muffled sounds, and bent strings will sound out of tune.

Where should you place the capo’s bar? 

You should place the capo’s bar close to the metal fret. The bar should not touch the fret. Capo close to the banjo’s headstock or close to the metal fret will result in muted, muffled sound.

Why should I use the capo on my banjo?

Most people think using a capo on the banjo makes them bad musicians. But the perspective isn’t true. There are many musicians who use a capo. Whether you are a pro musician or just a beginner, there are no rules against capo. It just depends on the tune you want to play.

Whether you find using capo cheating or not, it’s up to you. But you can always find a capo or two in my bag. Here are a few reasons why I love to play banjo using capos.

  1. Capos allow me to play more songs with limited strings.
  2. Capos provide a convenient way to switch keys without changing the fingerings.
  3. By using a capo, I can change the key to suit the singer.
  4. It helps me in songwriting and composition.
  5. Playing banjo using capo makes my fingers less sore.
  6. With the help of capo, I can give rest to my left hand.


A capo on the banjo helps you play the instrument easily and without getting tired. If you don’t have a banjo capo, then you don’t have to worry about it. You can also use your guitar capo on the banjo. The only trick to make it work is to make sure that the capo is close to the metal fret without touching it.

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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