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A while ago, a friend bought himself a lap steel guitar – the sort with a hollow neck, square in section – but became frustrated because he couldn’t find a capo that would fit it. He couldn’t use the usual type of capo, of course, because the hollow neck of the guitar was too thick and too fragile to allow the clamp to work and because the strings were too high over the fingerboard. So I made him this device, which is easy to fit and adjust and works well.

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In case anyone else has a similar problem, I thought it might be worth explaining how it’s made. You’ll need a scrap of hardwood roughly 2.5 x 1 x 3/8 inches in size; a piece of bone or ebony to make the inverted nut; some cork or leather to damp the strings on the headstock side of the capo; a 2.5 inch length of round bar in brass or steel of 1/4 inch diameter; a short length of threaded rod of 1/8 inch diameter; and a small piece of wood or metal or plastic to make a knob with which to turn the threaded rod. You’ll also require a matching tap to cut a thread in the hole of the brass bar.

The photographs below should make the construction clear, so I’m not going to give details. If you have any queries, please email me at info@finelystrung.com. The only thing to watch out for is that the threaded rod that pulls the bar against the underside of the strings shouldn’t be too long or it may damage the fingerboard.

To fit the capo, loosen the screw holding the metal bar – but not so far that the bar becomes detached. Hold the capo with its long axis parallel to the strings and insert the bar between the two middle strings. Then rotate both the capo and the bar through 90 degrees, making sure that the nut side of the capo is orientated to face the bridge. Slide the capo to the desired position and screw it up just tightly enough to produce a clear sound from all the strings.

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7 Comments

  1. Awesome design. Would like to know if it works well. If so I’d buy one from you!

  2. That is not only a brilliant design but beautiful to look at. You are so generous to share the whole process of construction. I have just found my next project. Thank you, Rick

  3. Made one. Slightly different system for tightening cos I didn’t want to buy a tap, so I used a bolt running through the brass rod & tightened from the top (nut set into knob). Works well but I found that the whole device blocks the LH when sliding towards the nut. Thanks again, Rick

  4. Id like to buy one. Looks like it works great

    • Thank you. Yes, it works well. But I’m afraid that I don’t make them for sale – which, of course, is why I explained how to make one for yourself. There’s an earlier comment from Ricbleu, who invented a modification that means you don’t have buy a tap.

  5. hmm, i was looking to make one of these, but this design looks like it may put undo stretching on the strings. I was hoping to make basically a moveable nut with grooves to place under the strings. this design looks like you may lose sustain. I want to have something that transmits the vinrations back to the guitar rather than suspending in above the neck. How do the open strings sound with the capo? I would think they may be a little springy sounding. Good idea though, thanks for posting.

  6. Beautifully made! I made one myself – not quite so elegantly! Made the body with a piece of scrap brass. What did you use to glue down the nut and damper? I put a spring between the knob and the main body – when set just right it means you can move the capo up and down the strings without having to unscrew it.


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