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If you are new to the banjo, it’s important to review the various products that can help make better music. A 5th string capo is one such product.

But what is it? It is effectively a device that lets you artificially “fret” the fifth string. So, the best 5th string banjo capo will let you change keys by clamping the product across the first four strings to raise the pitch.

This has no impact on the fifth string because the design of the fifth string banjo has a protruding peg for the fifth fret. 

If you are still confused as to which one to use, or in which situations, this review will give you information on when it is appropriate to use, how it works, and in what situations it works best. 

Who should use it?

Only those with the five string banjos should consider this, as it won’t work on any other instrument design.

It is only because of the fifth string and fifth peg that you can use the capo to clamp the first four strings without any impact on the fifth. 

This type of product is intended for those who are much more advanced, already have a thorough understanding of how to play their instrument and how to apply their favorite playing technique.

Intermediate level players, advanced players, and professionals will do well to consider a capo but even then there are different designs for kapos that are better suited for an intermediate player versus an advanced player.

For example, some of the most remedial capos for intermediate players are physically clamps onto and taken off of the banjo.

This means they are something you can keep in your music bag or instrument case and bring it with you and use it only when you need it.

The more advanced designs are attached to your instrument permanently make changes to your key much faster.

This is only a device you can apply to a five string banjo. Ergo, if you have a four string design, or a six string design, it won’t work for you. 

It is also not something that a beginner needs to focus on.

Beginning musicians need to worry more about how to achieve the right sound, how to play the right notes, and how to hold the instrument. 

Best 5th String Banjo Capo

When evaluating different systems consider that there might be one design that’s faster.

More advanced designs that are placed directly into your instrument might be the fastest but, many players might not want to have something placed into their instrument permanently and instead want something that they can easily take on and off.

Now that you understand the different capo designs it’s important to look at the key features that make them different.

Finding the best 5th string banjo capo comes down to personal preference and a comparison of the most popular designs.

Shubb Banjo Capo, Silver (FS)

Remember the description of how the capo works? That applies to a traditional capo which literally clamps in place.

There are, however, a few exceptions in the form of rare designs intended for advanced players. 

One of these is the sliding 5th string capo which is a thin, flat rail you screw into the side of your instrument neck.

This design for a capo comes with a thumbscrew operated “finger” that pushes on your fifth string.

You can loosen this thumbscrew and move it up or down on the rail.

Wherever it lands, it pushes down on the fifth string and holds it. 

This is a fast capo which you can use with one hand. Traditional capos have to be clamped and unclamped in place and you might need two hands to do it.

The one hand use means you can change the string tuning while in the middle of a song.

This is also better suited to any banjo with a tall fret, like a Deering banjo because it enables you to fine tune the capoed string with your finger. 

It is a bit hard for smaller, shorter players to reach, which is why it is intended for adults, advanced players.

However, if you want to be able to change your tune, literally and figuratively, in the middle of a song, without using both hands, this is a great capo to consider.

Be aware you might notice the rail under your thumb at first, but eventually you will adjust how you play.

It should be professionally installed on your instrument though, as it is affixed to it permanently, not just something you clip on and off as needed. 

View at Amazon for more information on how this product could potentially work for you.

Pros:

  • Very durable, will last the lifetime of your instrument
  • Can adjust in the middle of a song 
  • Easy to operate one handed, for professionals

Cons:

  • Some people don’t like feeling the rail 

GUITARX X3 – The Original Guitar Capo for Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Ukulele, Banjo and Mandolin, Chrome

This capo is an easier device for beginners. This design is meant to be carried around and used on an as-needed basis.

You can put it in your pocket or carry it in your music bag or instrument container so that it’s available the minute you need to change keys.

It has a flat elastic band and on the string side you get a tiny metal hook.

This hook connects to the elastic band which connects to another metal hook located on the fifth string side.

On your 5th string hook you get rubber material that keeps it comfortable so you don’t accidentally scratch anything or hurt yourself.

The hook is slightly longer than your 5th string side however.

The rubber coated hook can sometimes pull the string against your fingerboard which, with time, means you might have to retune your fifth string on occasion.

Most players are very fast at returning their 5th string when changing keys, especially advanced players so this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker but simply something to keep in mind when comparing features.

Many people prefer this design because it doesn’t require you to change your banjo and instead you can just put it in your pocket and then apply it when you need it.

It’s so small that you can easily keep it in your banjo case compartment and it’s a good place to start if you’re not sure about something that would otherwise modify your device.

View at Amazon to learn more about how this product might work for you.

Pros:

  • Small and easy to use
  • Doesn’t modify the instrument

Cons:

  • Can cause fifth string to go out of tune 

Banjo Highway Fifth String Banjo Capo – Stainless Steel

These are referred to as spikes because they are small devices that look very similar to a railroad spike.

These railroad spikes were used to hold it down cast iron plates in support of the overall tracks in a small nail head protruded from one side. The same idea happens with your instrument.

A tiny hole is drilled into your fingerboard and the spikes are tapped into the hole so that nothing but the head of the spike is near your fingerboard and it’s that head that holds your string down tightly over the next fret.

If you have a Deering banjo for example they tend to install spikes so that the string gets inserted from the side of the neck with a fifth string on it but you can choose to have it drilled into the side of your fingerboard with the first string.

Both designs work well, it comes down to a matter of personal preference.

Most players will install spikes at frets 7, 9, and 10 so that they can Capo to the key of A, B, and C but you can also have the spikes installed for flat keys or keys above see if you prefer.

The spikes are small and very difficult to see from far away.

They won’t interfere with your thumb the way that the permanent installation of the flat rail Capo will. If you are fretting on the string that has the spike you might feel it under your fingertips.

If you decide at any point you don’t want to use this Capo anymore and you want one that’s suspended or one that’s more permanent, you can remove the spikes and fill the holes with no issue.

Much like the suspender Capo, the removable ones, your v string will need to be retuned ever-so-slightly on occasion.

View at Amazon for more information on how this product might work for you.

Pros:

  • Not as obtrusive has the rail design and you won’t feel much under your fingers
  • Can be installed on either side of the neck

Cons:

  • Will eventually cause your 5th string to go out of tune

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