The Banjo Glossary Project 2019  
Tuesday, January 22, 2019

« A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z »


Fifth String Capo  Change text size for readability...  Print This Page
01:51A Fifth String Capo is a capo designed specifically for the 5th string of a 5-String Banjo. This specialized capo addresses the unique problem posed when a capo is used across the lower four strings of a banjo, which is: how to also capo the raised 5th string?

A regular capo only holds down the lower first four strings. If you capo at the second fret, the fifth string must also be raised two frets. This can be accomplished by tuning the fifth string to a higher pitch but this increases the tension on the string and can cause failure. It also changes the feel of the fifth string. A fifth string capo is used to hold down the fifth string behind one of the higher frets so that the pitch is raised to match the lower strings without having to retune.

The 5th String Capo comes in a variety of designs, all intended to do the same thing. The most common type of fifth string capo is a series of tiny hobby railroad spikes that are placed about a third of the way behind the 7th and 9th (and other) frets. They are left sticking up just high enough to slip the fifth string under so it is held down tightly. Some retuning is required as the spikes increase tension more than fingers do so they tend to sharpen the pitch.

Sliding fifth string capos have a small rail screwed into the side of the neck and a metal spring clip or adjustable finger that holds down the fifth string. This is easy to use and requires little if any retuning but requires two screw holes in the side of the neck which may ultimately reduce the resale value of the instruments.

Some modern instrument makers have developed unique and innovative approaches to dealing with the need capoing the 5th string, with varying levels of success and acceptance...

Also See: Capo ~ Railroad Spikes
LAST UPDATED 04-26-2016 14:38