Posted by revellfa on Thursday, August 7, 2014
The plethora of capos on the market today present pickers of any style with many options. What sets one apart from another are mainly dependent upon personal preferences. Personally I look for convenience, quick and easy operation, and I am for anything that keeps my banjo in tune!
The D’Addario NS Banjo/Mandolin Pro Capo (henceforth referred to as “the capo”) has a micrometer adjustment mechanism. It’s claim to fame is that this allows you to dial in the exact tension needed to play buzz free at any fret on both 4 and 5 string banjos and also mandolins. Because the capo does not rely on tension and is not spring driven like other capos it’s claim is that it reduces the need to retune often. Because it is lightweight the manufacturer also claims that it does not kill the tone or steal the vibration of your instrument like other, larger capos.
The Capo is small, unobtrusive (you can hardly see it) and stores conveniently behind the nut. Overall, the Capo is very well made. Because it tightens from the side and not the bottom it does require two-hands to operate. Nonetheless this capo is still easy to use and does allow your to change from one key to another with relative speed as compared to other capos.
Because there are many factors that cause a picker to have to retune often (humidity, neck to pot fit, tuners, age of strings, etc.) I remain skeptical that any capo alone can really claim to reduce the need to retune often. At any rate, we all hate it when your show is gaining momentum, members of the group are ready to kick off a hot instrumental and boom—your second string is out of tune AGAIN! Can the Capo really ease the pain of such a tragedy?
My experience with the capo would tell me no. But that doesn’t mean that this little capo is without its good attributes. Because it truly does allow you to dial in the exact tension needed the capo really does allow you to play buzz free at any fret. However since banjo pickers rarely capo past the seventh fret I wonder if such a gimmick is really needed. Because it does work so well when used to capo at higher frets the capo works very well on tenor banjos and mandolins. However many tenor banjo players and mandolin players alike rarely use capos, causing me to again question whether or not this product is as essential as it’s marketed to be.
These factors together lead me to believe that this little capo really isn’t any better or worse than any other capo on the market today. Whereas this capo does have its good attributes (convenience, adjustability, cost) it does not pull away or stand out from the crowd to the practical five string banjo picker who isn’t concerned with capoeing beyond the 7th fret of a banjo or the tenor banjo player or mandolin player who is content to just play in other keys.
At the end of the day if you want a neat and fairly inexpensive little capo then this one makes for a good option.
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