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Fret Buzz with a Capo? Here’s What to Do!

A capo is a great tool for any guitarist looking to change their sound and maybe play something new. But you might find that when you clip your capo to the fretboard and strum, all you get back is horrible fret buzz.

Fret buzz from a capo can usually be solved by simply making sure the capo is tight enough against the fretboard, creating enough pressure on the strings to press them all down at once. Also, it’s worth making sure your capo is clipped on as close to the fret as possible.

If the capo is still making your strings buzz, read on as we explain why this happens and how to fix it. We’ll also run you through some general capo maintenance you may not be familiar with.

Why Does a Capo Cause Fret Buzz?

There could be a few reasons why your guitar is getting fret buzz now you’ve stuck a Capo on it…

When you’re using a capo you’re changing the guitar’s key by shortening the scale length and pushing down on the strings, essentially bringing them closer to the fretboard. If your action is already super low or your frets a little higher than normal, using a capo will cause the strings to buzz and vibrate against the frets.

It could also be that, in pushing down on your strings, the capo has made the guitar become out of tune and loosened the strings. With less tension and more length, the strings are now more likely to buzz against the fretboard. This can also happen if the capo is placed too far back behind the fret.

How to Prevent Fret Buzz When Using a Capo

Lucky for us there are a few ways to prevent fret buzz when using a capo:

Guitar Setup

Most guitar-related issues always come back to the setup. If you’re getting fret buzz when using a capo try raising the action at the bridge, giving yourself more space between the strings and the frets.

It’s also important to check that your frets are a good, equal height across the neck, not too low and not too tall. Any fret that sticks out runs the risk of getting hit by a string when it’s struck. It may even be just one fret that needs to be filed down to size, but even that one fret can cause fret buzz.

Finally, check your neck. If your neck is out of shape or becomes too bowed at the middle, it will make the capo’s job of pressing all the strings down even harder and will easily cause them to vibrate against the fretboard when the scale length is shortened. Adjusting the truss rod, found either at the top or bottom of the neck, can release pressure and even out your neck so that everything is working smoothly again.

Capo Placement

As we touched on earlier, It’s important to put your Capo in the right place when attaching it to your frets. The Capo should go as close to the fret as possible leaving as little space as you can.

It is worth remembering though this isn’t a hard and fast rule, and every guitar is a little different so play around with the placement until something works for you.

Capo Tightness 

Capo tightness is one of the most important aspects of reducing capo fret buzz. Depending on the type of Capo you’re using, you may need to tighten it so that it’s gripping against the neck better.

Older spring capos especially can become weaker as they’re used, so replacing the spring will help it to bite down better on the fret. This is the same for trigger capos, where the clip could lose some of its strength over time. Replacing these parts or buying a new capo altogether should eliminate any buzz caused by a capo not pressing down hard enough.

If you’re using a strap, toggle, or any other type of adjustable capo, make sure the capo is tight enough against the neck. You wanna make sure there is enough pressure pushing down on the strings to create tension and stop them from rattling against the fretboard.

Type of Capo 

Another important thing to consider isn’t just the type of attachment method your capo uses, but the radius of the rubber clip. Guitar necks come in all different sizes and radius’s and you need to be matching this up to the radius on your Capo. 

When we talk about radius we mean the slight all guitar necks have. Some capos, especially older ones, have a flat rubber ‘lip’ as opposed to a slightly curved one, and using these will definitely cause fret buzz as the capo struggles to press down the two end strings when clamped.

Capo Quality

Like with guitars, not every capo is built the same. A high-quality capo will usually cost more but has more of the features we’ve talked about like a spring mechanism and a curved rubber lip that help minimize the chances of fret buzz. 

Do Capos Wear Out?

Of course! Like any object that serves a mechanical function, your capo can and will wear out over time. 

The two most common places a capo wears out are on the spring or clip (depending on the type of capo you have) and the rubber lip. The capo spring can lose its strength over time and will need to be replaced. While the lip can become worn and uneven after a few years of use.

Can a Capo Damage a Guitar?

Technically no. Using a capo, the right way, won’t damage your guitar. Damage occurs when a capo is used incorrectly for an extended amount of time. 

One of the most common types of Capo damage is from leaving the Capo attached to the headstock. Doing this for too long can ruin the finish of the wood, which won’t do much to damage the sound but might hurt its appearance and resale value. 

Damage can also happen to the frets themselves as overuse will wear the frets down faster. The best way to minimize this risk is to take your capo off the neck as soon as you’re done using it. 

Can a Capo Be Left on a Guitar?

A good rule of thumb to avoid damage is this, don’t leave the capo on any part of your guitar for longer than it needs to be.

Leaving your capo on creates extra tension on the neck and headstock. Almost every guitar is destined to have neck issues due to prolonged tension caused by the strings. Why speed that process up by leaving the capo on?

Speaking of strings, they will also get damaged due to the extra pressure if you leave the capo on. When it comes to storing the capo, it’s better for everyone if it’s just kept away from the guitar.


A capo can change the way you play guitar. With any new tool, there are bound to be some teething problems, and you shouldn’t let fret buzz scare you away from expanding your playing ability.