Do You Need a Capo for Your Ukulele? (Beginner’s Guide)

Today I’m going to cover whether or not you need a capo for your ukulele. 

I’ve personally played my uke with and without a capo, and I’ll cover the main benefits and some frequently asked questions below. 

Let’s jump right into it!

Is a Capo Necessary for Ukuleles?

Let’s start with a simple answer to this common question:

A capo isn’t required to play the ukulele. All ukulele songs can be played without a capo, given enough skill with the instrument. However, most ukulele players will find it helpful to have a capo, because it can adjust challenging songs to easier keys and chord shapes. 

Now, allow me to elaborate. 

You don’t NEED a capo to play the ukulele.

But, if you want to make your life easier (especially if you’re a beginner), then I highly recommend that you do get a capo. 

Here’s why…

4 Benefits of Ukulele Capos

1. You Can Play MORE Songs with the Same Chord Shapes

When you start playing the ukulele, you’ll probably begin by learning a few of the easiest chords, like these:

  • C chord
  • G chord
  • Am chord
  • F chord

In fact, there are a TON of songs that you can play with just these 4 chords. Check it out:

But, to make this even cooler, if you have a capo you can play EVEN MORE songs!

Here’s why: by adjusting the key of your ukulele with a capo, you can change your chords without changing the chord shapes (i.e. your finger positions).

In other words, this is a C chord:

And if you put a capo on the 2nd fret, my exact same finger position in front of the capo, is now a D chord. 

That’s because each fret is a “half-step”, and by increasing the key by 2 “half-steps” (i.e. 1 whole step) I’ve moved my C chord up one full letter, to a D chord. 

There’s a lot more music theory we could get into on this topic, but for now, just know that a capo will allow you to play a lot more chords with the same finger positioning you’ve learned already. 

2. Helps You Sound Like The Original Songs

Whether it’s a ukulele, guitar, or other stringed instruments, the pro musicians and song writers often have capos.

And for you, that means that if you have a capo available, then you’ll be able to get your instrument to sound closer to the original recording for certain songs. 

This is important because you may want to try playing along with the recording (it’s pretty fun to do that, and it’ll help you improve). 

This is true even if you do manage to play it in the right key, because you might end up in a different octave, which will still sound different than the original song.

3. Makes Singing Along with Your Ukulele Easier

If you want to sing along with your ukulele playing, but you don’t have the vocal range of Bruno Mars, then you might need a capo. 

A capo makes it simple to change the key of a song you’ve already learned. You can just throw the capo on, and play the song the same way as before, but now it’s in a different key. 

People have a wide variety of natural vocal ranges, and some keys will simply be more manageable for you than others. Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and the song you want to sing will be right in your vocal wheelhouse, but this is often not the case.

And in those situations where you find your voice breaking or squeaking, you can usually make things easier by adjusting the key by one (or a few) half steps with a capo.  

4. Can Help You Learn About Keys

You may also find that playing around with a capo will help you better understand the musical keys that you’re dealing with on a ukulele. 

And as you may have figured out already, “keys” is a pretty important concept for ukulele players, and for all kinds of music for that matter. 

So, if you want to give a capo a try, a side-benefit may be that you begin to understand keys and key changes a bit better. 

Downsides of Getting a Capo

There are two main downsides of using a capo on your Ukulele.

First, they cost money. Admittedly, capos are pretty cheap, but if you want to save a few bucks, there are ways of playing any ukulele song without a capo. You’ll just have to learn how to transpose the music, which can take time and could require you to learn some tricky finger positions. 

Second, if you do get a capo, it could become a “crutch” that you use to avoid learning the music theory behind the key changes that a capo makes so easy. 

With that said, if you’re not really looking to get into music theory, and you just want to learn a few songs, then a capo is definitely the quickest route to that goal. 

That’s really the only downsides I can think of, capos are handy little tools, and it’s honestly kind of hard to go wrong with them if you don’t mind spending a little cash on an accessory for your ukulele. 

Can You Use a Guitar Capo for a Ukulele?

I’m both a guitar and a ukulele player, so I’m well acquainted with this question.

Here’s the short answer:

You can often use a guitar capo on a ukulele, but this will depend on the size and shape of both the ukulele and the capo. And even if the guitar capo does fit, a ukulele capo will typically provide a better fit on the smaller neck of a ukulele. 

If you already have a guitar capo, then I’d go ahead and try it before buying a separate ukulele capo. If it seems to work well, then you can save a bit of money and stick to what you already have. 

In fact, I use a guitar capo on my ukulele. It fits well, and I’ve never had any problems using it with both instruments. 

However, if you don’t have a capo at all, then you’ll want a ukulele capo UNLESS you intend to play both guitar and ukulele equally (in which case you’d probably still want a guitar capo, because it’s more likely to work with both instruments). 

If you decide to use a guitar capo, but you haven’t gotten one yet, I recommend a Kyser capo (FYI: I get commissions when bought through this link, thanks for supporting the blog!). 

Are Ukulele Capos Worth It?

Now, allow me to summarize:

A capo is usually worth the money for ukulele players. Capos are inexpensive, and they allow you to easily change the key of your entire ukulele. This will allow you to play more songs using simple chord shapes, and can also make it easier to sing along with your ukulele, by changing to a key within your vocal range. 

There are only 2 situations where a ukulele is probably not worth it:

  1. If you already have a guitar capo that also fits well on your ukulele
  2. You are on an extremely tight budget, and only want to buy a capo if it is absolutely essential

Otherwise, I think a capo is worth it. 

If you want to go ahead and try a ukulele capo, I recommend the Kyser capo below. 

Kyser is the same brand I use for my guitar capo, and I like it because it’s really easy to take on and off the neck of the instrument, and they last a long time. I’ve probably had my Kyser guitar capo for more than 10 years now. 

You can see the Kyser capo on Amazon by clicking through the link below (FYI: I get commissions on purchases through that link, so thanks in advance if you decide to support the blog)

Kyser Quick Change Capo: 

Kyser Quick-Change Capo for banjos, ukuleles, and mandolins, Black, KBMB

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top