Price paid: £ 15
Purchased from: Hooters (Watford)
Sound — 9
I use identical Shubb C1 capos on my electric (Yamaha SG1500) and steel strung acoustic (Yamaha APX-5). It really helps when accompanying different vocalists who sing in different keys, but can also significantly alter the harmonic|tone of the instrument, much like alternative open tunings. As referred to below, always check your tuning when using a capo - that's any capo, not just the Shubb! As far as the sound goes, you may well find different 'natural' harmonic changes and sweet spots when using a capo.
Overall Impression — 10
So, in conclusion we have what is a very basic tool, but beautifully implemented, and a relatively cheap, convenient way to really add an extra dimension to your sound, as well as a great blag if you audition or work in a situation where "different" keys are in use! Prior to purchasing, I tried several different makes and models but the quality, size and ease of use made the Shubb an easy choice. I'm so impressed I have two of them, and would have to replace instantly if one went missing. If only I could double up on all my gear!
Reliability & Durability — 10
The unit is fabulously well made - no sharp edges anywhere, the slightly curved face is dressed in really good quality rubber, just firm enough to clench your strings to the neck, with just enough 'give' to clench nicely! And in high spec stainless steel, it never feels under any strain at all. Unlike some of the larger models, the Shubb is genuinely pocket-sized and can be stuck in a shirt / jeans pocket when not in use. The beautiful construction can add a slight weight factor, especially on an acoustic. For me that's not been an issue, but in any Shubb have covered this by marketing their L1 (aluminum) version. Consider this if you are capoing on a very lightweight guitar. An important feature is the speed which one can deploy the Shubb. It really is close to instant, as is the time taken to release it. Particularly useful in a gig situation. I'd go as far to say you could use it to 'cheat' a key change as long as you had about a bar of music to make the change! That's notwithstanding the following - whichever capo you get (you are going to get one now, aren't you?) do not assume your perfectly tuned open strings will remain in tune with the capo in place. Always, always, always retune when you add, move, or release the capo. Always!
Ease of Use — 10
OK it's not a guitar effect as such, but if you don't use a capo you might find it's more use than a lot of that digital baloney many of us have at our feet. Blues musicians used to call capos 'cheaters' and they meant it ironically. Glenn Campbell maintained it was his passport to loads of his session work. In either case it gave instant to access alternative keys depending on the vocalist/accompaniment, and also, in extremis, the sound of the instrument itself can be altered radically. In the 80's Johnny Marr made the capo a staple of many of The Smiths' seminal recordings, giving him even more jangle as he blistered away behind Morrissey. He probably came to use one via his studies of Bert Jansch, late great doyenne of UK folk guitar. So... The capo's credentials established, why the Shubb? For me, the standard C1 is so durable and easy to use. It can be adjusted almost instantly by tightening one knerled screw to accommodate different guitars and / or different neck positions.