Why Do People Put Capo Upside Down?

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A capo helps guitarists alter the guitar’s key and sound, allowing them to be more versatile players. Capo is usually mounted onto the guitar with the clamp side up, but some use them upside down. Why do people put Capo upside down? 

People put their capo upside down to:

  • Reduce string buzz
  • Secure bottom strings better
  • Produce a slightly different string tone
  • Play to a different string tuning
  • Play to their personal preference

In this article, we examine why people put their capo upside down. We also explore what types of Capo you can put upside down. Finally, we also discuss if you should follow the same and put your capo upside down.

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Why Do People Put Capo Upside Down?


How Does A Capo Work?

A capo clamps down the strings of your guitar to a certain fret. This allows you to adjust your guitar’s key, producing a different sound. Capo can also reduce the number of barre chords you need to play. 

You can basically use Capo to change how your guitar sounds. By placing guitar capos on certain guitar frets, you can alter the key note of your guitar. Placing your Capo on every fret raises the key by half a note. 

Suppose you have your Capo placed on the first fret of the guitar. The chord does not sound higher when you play the G chord, as the Capo has become a G# chord.

You can use a capo to reduce difficult chords and play with other instruments better. You can often adjust your guitar to play in a key that your vocalist can sing in. 

What Are The Types Of Capo?

There are three popular styles of Capo – screw-on, Spring-clip capo, or rolling Capo. There are other, less popular capo styles. They may have different mechanisms of action, but they essentially perform the same function.

Capo comes in many shapes and sizes, but they do the same thing simultaneously. They clamp down on guitar strings on a certain fret. A good capo can clamp down the strings hard but not too hard. They cause damage to the fretboard or the guitar neck.

Clip-On Capo

Probably the most popular and most widely seen type of Capo. It usually comes with three hands and a spring shaped like a letter ‘K.’ 

Why Do People Put Capo Upside Down?
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When put onto your guitar, the first-hand rests against your guitar neck. The second-hand presses on the strings, while the third hangs free, functioning like a lever. This is also called the control hand.

As you press down on the control hand, the other two hands open up like a jaw. You then place the hands on the desired fret before releasing the control hand. The spring now locks and keeps the hands in place. 

Screw-On Capo

Screw-on capo can be described as an ultra-secure capo. A screw-on capo may function like a C-clamp, with two hands and a screw to open or close up the hands. 

Why Do People Put Capo Upside Down?
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To operate this Capo, you unscrew the clamp to open the hands. You then place the Capo in your desired position and tighten the screw to tighten the Capo’s grip. The Capo now presses down the strings. 

This setup gives you a very secure grip. Still, you trade away ease and mobility, as adjusting can be difficult and troublesome.

Rolling Capo

A rolling capo is created to allow easy adjustment. It is not commonly seen as the first two, but it has its own fans. 

Why Do People Put Capo Upside Down?
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A rolling capo consists of two hands connected on both ends by two springs. One of the hands pushes against the fretboard, while the other is on the neck. The hand of the neck may have wheels allowing it to move about and roll on the guitar neck.

Why Do People Put Capo Upside Down?

People may put Capo upside down for various reasons. This could range from trying to secure the strings better to trying to produce a specific sound. Some also put capo upside down to play in a specific string tuning and from personal preference. 

When putting on clip-on Capo, most players usually put their Capo with the lever hand facing above the guitar fretboard. This is usually the more natural way since we do not need to bend our wrists too much. 

However, some players prefer to put their capo upside down. In this case, they put their Capo with the lever hands underneath the guitar neck. 

This may look odd to you since that’s an additional effort on the wrist. However, some reasons make people keep up this habit:

To Play Different String Tuning

In a typical string tuning, we play the EADGBE tuning. This means we tune the guitar strings to these notes, from top to bottom. On top of the EADGBE, there are also many other string tunings to make playing different tunes easier. 

Popular alternative string tunings include Drop-D tuning, Drop-C, or Open G tuning. You need to adjust the tuning on the individual strings to tune these tunings.

However, when you use a guitar capo upside down, you can immediately change the tuning from EADGBE to DADGAD. You simply clamp on the Capo on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th strings on the 2nd fret. 

You could also reverse your Capo, using the surface for the guitar neck on the fretboard instead. 

To Secure The Bottom Strings Better

When you play guitar, you may notice that the bottom strings are always harder to press down. They are thin and, when played, seem to vibrate more violently. Many players also usually struggle with the bottom strings. 

Some players see that same issue with using Capo. As a result, they decide to use their capo upside down. This is logical since the beginning of Capo’s jaw may have stronger gripping power than the end of it.

By upswing the capo upside down, instead of the end, the beginning of the Capo’s jaw is not holding the bottom three strings. This should secure the strings better.

Slight Change On String Tones

This may be on the more minute side of things. Still, some guitar players notice their guitar sounds different when the Capo is turned upside down.

This could make sense since, by putting the Capo upside down, you may be changing the grip strength of the Capo on the strings. This means the strings may vibrate differently, giving you a slightly different sound quality.

To these guitarists, they prefer the sounds made when their Capo is used upside down, so they just go ahead with it. 

Why Do People Put Capo Upside Down?

Reduce String Buzz

The idea of reducing string buzz may also relate to trying to secure the bottom strings. Some players may notice that string buzz becomes less noticeable if they mount the capo upside down. As a result, they just stick to doing that. 

However, this may be a bigger issue if you think a little further. If the string buzz issue is noticeably different from changing the capo mount, it could mean something is wrong with the guitar. 

It could be the strings, the neck, or the fretboard. If you experience a similar issue, consider getting a luthier to check on your guitar. The luthier may be able to tell if your guitar is fine or have issues such as a bent or warped neck and fretboard.

Personal Preference

This may be odd to you, but some guitar players prefer to put their capo upside down. They do not have any explanation for their preference, but they consider it their style. 

This practice is not wrong since it does not affect the guitar’s sound. As long as the guitar player is comfortable with it, why not?

Should You Put Capo Upside Down?

You do not need to put your capo upside down. You can decide whether to put your guitar on regularly or upside down. This is because capo positioning does not affect play, nor is it frowned upon by other guitarists.

Now that you know why some players prefer to play with the Capo mounted upside down, you may wonder if you should follow suit. Should you put Capo upside down too?

You are free to mount your Capo both ways. There is no need to follow suit. This is because Capo’s position does not affect the guitar’s performance, not it is something that is frowned upon by most guitarists. 

Does Not Affect Playing

Once you mount a capo on a guitar neck, you no longer play the frets behind the Capo. For example, if you mounted your Capo on the 4th fret, you no longer played the 1st to 3rd fret. 

This means you do not worry about having to move your fretting hand over the Capo. If you do this, then the positioning of the Capo will matter. If you mount it upside down, your wrist may knock on the lever hand of your Capo. 

Even if Capo may help the guitar produce a different sound, it is usually very minute in difference and may not be noticeable. The exception may be when you try to play specific tunings, such as DADGAD.

Not Something Frowned Upon By Guitarists

Another reason is that most guitarists do not care how you mount your Capo. To them, they understand that it does not really affect the sound and that it is a matter of personal preference. 

You may get told by some other hobbyist or casual guitar players about you mounting your Capo wrong. Maybe they have not seen any players who do that. Some may still be inexperienced enough to know it doesn’t matter.

Can You Put Your Capo On Reverse?

You can put your Capo in reverse. This means to put the hand meant for the neck on the fret. However, not all capos can do this. Reverse capo use can help players to execute partial capos, where some strings are capped, and some are not.

If you ever wonder about putting your capo upside down, you may wonder about putting them on reverse too. The answer is yes, which may be more common than you think.

Some guitarists actually use reverse Capo to help them perform partial Capo. In partial Capo, rather than Capo, all the strings on the fret, only parts, are pressed down. An example of partial capoeing is the DADGAD tuning or Drop E tuning.

By using the reverse side, the hands may be shorter, which means it may be unable to press down on all strings. This allows guitarists to execute partial capoeing.

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