Is it ok to tune your guitar while it has a capo on? Could it hurt the strings? Guitar? Capo?

I have played guitar and used capos for more years than I want to mention, and I have never hurt the strings or the guitar by tuning (or more accurately, fine-tuning) the guitar with a capo on…nor have I heard of damage from anyone else.

Of course, you’d want to have the guitar tuned before you start using the capo. If you tune with the capo on, once it’s removed the guitar will most likely be out of tune. This is because the capo inhibits the capability of having equal tension on both sides of it to some degree.

Loosen the tension of the capo (if it’s adjustable and has that capability) if you find when you put it on a tuned guitar that it pulls the guitar out of tune. If you capo is non-adjustable you might try putting the capo directly on top of the fret and see if the guitar is more in tune that way.

If that doesn’t do it, you’ll have to make those small adjustments tuning-wise. This is alright for the studio, but can eat up precious time on stage because you’ll have to re-adjust again when you take the capo off.

Since adjustable capos have to be readjusted for the different thickness in lower and higher positions on the neck, i use a non-adjustable capo over the fret,…even though it is less comfortable than having it behind the fret. But, hey, it’s in tune and it’s fast.

I’ve used both kinds of capos in the studio (positioned behind the fret), but always tune and re-tune between takes.

Again, there had never been any damage to either the strings or the guitar.  So, worry not and tune away…the musicians and the audience will be glad you did.

Jake Kelly is a man on the constant search for enlightenment, if anyone finds it let him know so he can get some. For more of this hombre’s ramblings and the rest of L2P check out L2Pbandspace and



Originally posted 2010-08-19 22:18:53.