A capo is a device used on the neck of guitars, mandolins, and banjos to shorten the playable length of the strings, hence raising the pitch. Derived from the Italian ‘capotasto’, the earliest known use of the term is found in Giovanni Battista Doni’s Annotazioni (1640) to describe the nut of a viola da gamba. The first patented capo was designed by James Ashborn of Walcottville, Connecticut, USA.
Founded in 1974 by banjoists Rick Shubb and Dave Coontz, Shubb is a company that specializes in producing capos for all kinds of stringed instruments. Shubb wanted to create a capo that would not make his instrument go out of tune. The Shubb capo uses an over-centre locking action, which is lever operated, mimicking the grip of a human hand. The design includes a screw for adjusting the clamp’s tightness, and has been described as a turning point in modern capo design. Shubb capos remain a top-selling capo forty years after their invention and is considered the benchmark in this product category.
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