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Oct 16, 2021 - 9:29:16 AM
755 posts since 5/22/2021

Hi all,

Does anyone here know how to make their own capo for a banjo? I am in the process of building a long-neck banjo, and I just realized that most capos wont fit on my neck.

So, does anyone here have a recommendation on how to make one? I looked online, but everything seems to point to a 5th string capo, which is not what I am looking for (I just use round-headed screws for the 5th string, like Pete Seeger said).

Thanks everyone, all feedback is, of course, appreciated,

Russ A.

Oct 16, 2021 - 9:40:16 AM
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jacot23

USA

247 posts since 12/13/2012

Why wouldn't a normal capo like this work?

kysermusical.com/collections/banjo-capos

Oct 16, 2021 - 10:08:16 AM
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157 posts since 6/15/2021

A pencil and a rubber band works. I use two inches of one of those white BIC pen barrels and a rubber band.

There are several banjo capos out there.

Look at elderly.com or banjo teacher.com.

Oct 16, 2021 - 10:10:34 AM

755 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by jacot23

Why wouldn't a normal capo like this work?

kysermusical.com/collections/banjo-capos


Jason,

Thanks for the recommendation! I thought that most online capos wont be able to fit my neck I made, because it is a bit bigger than most standard necks. 

I might give this one a try though! It is a bit costly, but considering that, if it works and gets good use out of it, then maybe a good idea.

Thanks again,

Russ

Oct 16, 2021 - 11:16:51 AM
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Alex Z

USA

4556 posts since 12/7/2006

A guitar capo should work fine for a wider neck.  A "banjo" capo is the same as a guitar capo, only not as wide.

I use a guitar capo if I have to capo to the 5th fret or higher.

Oct 16, 2021 - 11:20:39 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26547 posts since 8/3/2003

One caveat: if you use a Kyser, there is no way to adjust it and as you capo up, it will tend to make your banjo sound sharper and sharper.

Oct 16, 2021 - 11:57:17 AM

755 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

One caveat: if you use a Kyser, there is no way to adjust it and as you capo up, it will tend to make your banjo sound sharper and sharper.


Sherry,

Thanks for the heads up. Do you know if that would work fine with a White-Pine softwood neck though? If it gets sharper and sharper, I guess it must become tighter and tighter, which I gotta be careful with a softwood neck that I spent many hours carving with just my pocketknife. I am documenting the build here: 

https://www.banjohangout.org/topic/376502

Thanks again for the heads up,

Russ A.

Oct 16, 2021 - 11:58:07 AM

755 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by pianojuggler

A pencil and a rubber band works. I use two inches of one of those white BIC pen barrels and a rubber band.

There are several banjo capos out there.

Look at elderly.com or banjo teacher.com.


Hey, that is a good idea! Thanks for sharing! I will try it out and see how it goes.
-Russ A.

Oct 16, 2021 - 12:00:01 PM

755 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

A guitar capo should work fine for a wider neck.  A "banjo" capo is the same as a guitar capo, only not as wide.

I use a guitar capo if I have to capo to the 5th fret or higher.


Alex, thank you for the recommendation! A guitar capo seems like a good option for something that looks a bit more professional. 

My neck is not "wider" per say, but "deeper", like the height from the bottom of the neck to the fingerboard is deeper than most normal banjos, because I hand-carved it to my own feel.

Thanks again for the recommendation,

-Russ A.

Oct 16, 2021 - 12:28:33 PM
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252 posts since 8/25/2009

If you're looking for an inexpensive capo that should fit a wide neck I suggest you look at the Bill Russell Capo. It is elastic, and comes in sizes for banjos and guitars,

Several years ago I attended a guitar concert by Guy van Duser, a professor of guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston. During intermission I checked out the three guitars he had brought. They must have been worth $10,000 apiece, and each one sported its very own Bill Russell capo -about $5 each. Obviously, he could have afforded $100 capos, but the Bill Russells were light, compact (low to the neck) and they worked!

Oct 16, 2021 - 1:02:38 PM

Alex Z

USA

4556 posts since 12/7/2006

"My neck is not "wider" per say, but "deeper", like the height from the bottom of the neck to the fingerboard is deeper than most normal banjos"

You'll need to check then.  Although most guitar capos will accommodate  a fairly deep neck -- since acoustic guitar necks can get quite thick progressing up the frets -- a simple measurement of your neck from front to back check against the capo's space can verify the fit.

If you already know that "most [banjo] capos won't fit on my neck," then you already know about measuring.

How thick is your neck at the 12th fret?

Oct 16, 2021 - 1:15:08 PM
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58489 posts since 12/14/2005

I once made my own by sliding some plastic tubing over a fairly hefty nail, held on the neck with rubber bands.

Oct 16, 2021 - 1:30:34 PM
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14034 posts since 6/29/2005

Tha classic Dunlop elastic capos would probably work—They are a glorified version of what Mike is describing—a nail inside a 2" piece of surgical tubing with a couple of rubber bands like the kind they band broccoli together together with at the grocery store.

Oct 16, 2021 - 2:08:58 PM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26547 posts since 8/3/2003

quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment
quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

One caveat: if you use a Kyser, there is no way to adjust it and as you capo up, it will tend to make your banjo sound sharper and sharper.


Sherry,

Thanks for the heads up. Do you know if that would work fine with a White-Pine softwood neck though? If it gets sharper and sharper, I guess it must become tighter and tighter, which I gotta be careful with a softwood neck that I spent many hours carving with just my pocketknife. I am documenting the build here: 

https://www.banjohangout.org/topic/376502

Thanks again for the heads up,

Russ A.


I don't know whether it would work with soft wood or not, but I know that the higher up the neck you go, the tighter the capo gets and stands to reason it might harm the neck. 

The old fashioned pencil/rubber band would probably work as well as anything if you can't use an adjustable capo.

Someone mentioned a guitar capo and there are several adjustable ones for guitars.  Might look into those.  I use an adjustable capo on my Martins. 

Edited by - Texasbanjo on 10/16/2021 14:12:22

Oct 16, 2021 - 7:06:01 PM
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hbick2

USA

466 posts since 6/26/2004

Check out the Paige Clik Capo. They have several models. I have a Fairbanks banjo with an extremely thick neck. This is all I could find that would fit it.

Oct 16, 2021 - 8:14:04 PM
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2350 posts since 2/7/2008

Check out the elastic capos below. Adjustable and gentle enough to not damage the neck. If the ukulele version isn't wide enough, the guitar one surely is.




Oct 17, 2021 - 12:47:28 AM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14804 posts since 8/30/2006

BeeEnvironment Sometimes, people refuse to read.
"Deeper" And there ain't no capos for that because I have a friend working with a deeper neck, too. You gotta use yer 15 year old noggin and go back out into the woods and look for a good stick. I don't need emogeeeees to let you know I'm grinning here ( ):)==='===::} (that's a longneck, no doubt.)
When you get the likes of Mike Gregory commenting on hand tapering the pegs, then read again.

Two people have suggested Woody Guthrie's "Magic Stick" which he used to play with one of his cousins who played Country Swing in the key of C mostly. You know where this is going. Woody played G fingering up at the 5th fret.
I think I read that he used string like a tourniquet. So I think the string did the capoing and the stick did the tourniquet.

What Mike Gregory and Pianojuggler said, using rubberbands to do the same thing.

But explore the magic stick, it works, just not commercially. That's why it's not widely known.

Aside: I don't know why, but I saw many performers launch a Dunlop Capo. 

Just like I've seen people launch a poorly installed capo spike. 

My hands don't need a squeezy to operate correctly. I've seen too many younger, weaker and perhaps a few females (kidding.) struggle with sliding a capo back and forth, very distracting to performance/theater fans of acoustic hand made music. The same with leaving tuners in place on the headstock of a beautiful handmade banjo headstock. Opinion.

The elastics are in every derelict guitar case in a closet, attic, under a bed (priorities) that there are. Dudes, they stretch and allow amateur performers to fall into the equipment trap, they slide poorly into the grime of your skin cells.

The Paige only goes up so far, I never could understand that, So people have secretly left two behind in my shop. 
I am critical of new gimmick stuff like the dogbone tuners that disappeared.

I use Shubbs for banjo and guitar, they won't fit your project, neither.

As you may have read, my bandmates and I built a longneck from a 2 x 4, so I see you are taking care of your softer wood,
this is wise, since you and all of us want to hear the result. The journey is also the playing. Keep going.
I agree with the use of a screw for the pip.

Here's the '60's Stamm neck with carpet tacks and the tuner holes are off, talk about an orphan. They were direct mail order and came with a paddle head if you did your own. that's the fine tradition you are following. 

And then the other photo is some stuff that was in the cardboard case of my new '70's Yamaha slothead 12-string.  The Hamilton  is Sooo obsolete, but it was one of the first chrome (for weather) squeezies, with a real felt pad like sandpaper for skin cells.   




Edited by - Helix on 10/17/2021 00:58:37

Oct 17, 2021 - 4:21:04 AM
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14034 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Quickstep192

Check out the elastic capos below. Adjustable and gentle enough to not damage the neck. If the ukulele version isn't wide enough, the guitar one surely is.


That's what I meant by the elastic Dunlop capo. At one time that was the most common kind and nearly everyone used them—you could even get one for a 12 string guitar.

If the neck was too deep, you could punch another hole in the elastic part to make it larger

Oct 17, 2021 - 6:18:11 AM

755 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Half Barbaric Twanger

If you're looking for an inexpensive capo that should fit a wide neck I suggest you look at the Bill Russell Capo. It is elastic, and comes in sizes for banjos and guitars,

Several years ago I attended a guitar concert by Guy van Duser, a professor of guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston. During intermission I checked out the three guitars he had brought. They must have been worth $10,000 apiece, and each one sported its very own Bill Russell capo -about $5 each. Obviously, he could have afforded $100 capos, but the Bill Russells were light, compact (low to the neck) and they worked!


Thanks for the advice! Seeing how a lot of other members here highly reccomend that, I will give it a try!

-Russ

Oct 17, 2021 - 6:20:30 AM

755 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

Tha classic Dunlop elastic capos would probably work—They are a glorified version of what Mike is describing—a nail inside a 2" piece of surgical tubing with a couple of rubber bands like the kind they band broccoli together together with at the grocery store.


Thank you very much for the advice, Ken! I will check them out online and let everyone know. 

Though, does it make any difference if I used a "heavy" elastic capo, or a "flat-strap" bill russel elastic capo?

Oct 17, 2021 - 6:21:53 AM

755 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo
quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment
quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

One caveat: if you use a Kyser, there is no way to adjust it and as you capo up, it will tend to make your banjo sound sharper and sharper.


Sherry,

Thanks for the heads up. Do you know if that would work fine with a White-Pine softwood neck though? If it gets sharper and sharper, I guess it must become tighter and tighter, which I gotta be careful with a softwood neck that I spent many hours carving with just my pocketknife. I am documenting the build here: 

https://www.banjohangout.org/topic/376502

Thanks again for the heads up,

Russ A.


I don't know whether it would work with soft wood or not, but I know that the higher up the neck you go, the tighter the capo gets and stands to reason it might harm the neck. 

The old fashioned pencil/rubber band would probably work as well as anything if you can't use an adjustable capo.

Someone mentioned a guitar capo and there are several adjustable ones for guitars.  Might look into those.  I use an adjustable capo on my Martins. 


Thank you! Yes, I think I am now going to look into a bill russel elastic capo.

-Russ

Oct 17, 2021 - 6:37:29 AM

755 posts since 5/22/2021

@hbick2 - Thanks for the recommendation. It seems a bit pricey, but looks as if for professional work, which makes sense. I will keep it in mind in case the Bill Russell does not work.

@Quickstep192- Thanks for the recommendations as well! I see that a lot of members here are recommending it, so I will give it a try!

@Helix - Thank you for your advice. So, do you think I should give the elastic guitar capo a try? Even though it is a few dollars, worse comes to worse, I could return it and get my money back. Ken LeVan suggested that if it were too deep, I could punch a hole into the elastic part of it. Thank you kindly for your advice, and that 60's neck is really beautiful! I will also look for a good stick outdoors today when I am in the woods!

@Ken LeVan - Ok, I see now. I think, because the elastic capo seems to be about 5 dollars online, I will try it and give it a go on my long-neck. Worse comes to worse, I will return it.

Thanks again everybody for the advice! It really is helpful, and I will post a photo here, soon, of the depth of my long-neck that I carved. It might seem much deeper than standard necks, but it really fits my big hands nicely.

-Russ

Oct 17, 2021 - 1:18:33 PM

493 posts since 10/18/2020

BeeEnvironment you could also probably use a Dulcimer capo which can be purchased on Etsy

I believe they will fit a 1 1/2 inch wide neck

i am in the process of making one for my gourd banjo because it will not fit the width of my gourd banjo neck

With the Dulcimer capo you do not have to worry about the depth of your neck just the width




 

Edited by - Don Smith1959 on 10/17/2021 13:34:47

Oct 17, 2021 - 4:50:56 PM

755 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Don Smith1959

BeeEnvironment you could also probably use a Dulcimer capo which can be purchased on Etsy

I believe they will fit a 1 1/2 inch wide neck

i am in the process of making one for my gourd banjo because it will not fit the width of my gourd banjo neck

With the Dulcimer capo you do not have to worry about the depth of your neck just the width


Hmm, yeah, most of my neck is over 1 3/4 inch wide, so it might not work. It does seem like a good idea worth lookin into though!

Thanks!

-Russ

Oct 17, 2021 - 5:24:16 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14804 posts since 8/30/2006

No, I don't think you should get elastic. All the 12-string players I knew only used them because that was all there was.
And poking a hole to tigthen them up is the perfect folk process. They streeeeetch out because they ARE elastic.

Another old time trick is tying a square knot in a broken string and turning it around to play the other way.  I had to one time. 

The dulcimer capo, I was hoping Mr. Smith would share, because that is the one I think you should build after you might try the tourniquet. He took the time to photo it for you.

I don't need an answer back, you know which to use. Innovate if you might.


 

Edited by - Helix on 10/17/2021 17:27:02

Oct 17, 2021 - 5:43:01 PM

493 posts since 10/18/2020

quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment
quote:
Originally posted by Don Smith1959

BeeEnvironment you could also probably use a Dulcimer capo which can be purchased on Etsy

I believe they will fit a 1 1/2 inch wide neck

i am in the process of making one for my gourd banjo because it will not fit the width of my gourd banjo neck

With the Dulcimer capo you do not have to worry about the depth of your neck just the width


Hmm, yeah, most of my neck is over 1 3/4 inch wide, so it might not work. It does seem like a good idea worth lookin into though!

Thanks!

-Russ


the neck on my gourd banjo is also 1 3/4 inch wide and the mountain dulcimer capo almost fits if you look at the photos there is two cork pieces that tightens against the sides of the finger board on a mountain dulcimer if you remove one or both of those cork pieces it will work on the neck of a 1 3/4 inch wide banjo neck

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