Freedom Dobro Capo
(US patent 6 005 174 ;  Slide-guitar capo)
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A new kind of Dobro capo is now in production.

This capo has the shape of a scalene-triangular prism with a groove the length of each face to accommodate the fret that it straddles. This shape provides three different heights from base to ridge (ie from fretboard to strings) depending on orientation of the capo. All surfaces are smooth and all edges are gently rounded.

The figure below shows a Dobro with the capo at the second, third and fourth frets, the capo being oriented for higher ridge at each higher fret. The last shot shows the capo on the fifth fret oriented for highest ridge and with a modified Bill Russell capo pressing the strings down near the second fret to dampen vibrations between the nut and capo. Note that the latter would not interfere with barring the strings between capo and bridge. Production capos are of hard (D70 or greater) polyurethane plastic.

Five different capo sizes are available, each with three ridge heights as given below in decimal inch:

A    0.330, 0.350, 0.370
B    0.360, 0.383, 0.410
C    0.395, 0.425, 0.457
D    0.450, 0.482, 0.523
E    0.509, 0.560, 0.610

The five capo sizes are shown below (steel originals, clear plastic clones, and white plastic clones).

Production capos (ie clones) in the hardest polyurethane plastic I can mold (D80) will retail for about $30. Those now in stock (y '05) and depicted here will sell for: white $20 ; clear $10 ; white or clear second $5.

Several years ago, the Dobro capos available had the disadvantage of having a component above the strings at or near the fret where the strings were stopped. My left hand (ie fingers thereof) bumped into that component when barring the strings near the capo, so I designed, made and patented a capo that would rest gently on the fret board (straddling a fret) and press up on the strings, with nothing above the strings. I have used this capo for several years on my Dobro and am happy with it.

If you want to explore this product, send an email to my address, If you have time, include a caliper measure of the distance from your fretboard to the top of your strings next to the second fret of your Dobro as illustrated below.

Finally, it may be noticed in the first picure that the capo is always oriented with the meatier side of its base towards the bridge. Not seen is that it is also pushed toward the nut, so that the bridge side of its groove is against the fret that it straddles. In fact, the groove is not centered under the ridge but is shifted slightly to the meatier side of the base. This and the orientation and positioning of the capo just described places the ridge over the nutward edge of the fret, which tends to compensate for the effect on pitch of the string stretching by the capo.

David M Regen

The capo dampens an open string's ring somewhat. This undesirable effect is tolerable, since long open-string notes are rare. Also, hard plucking of an open string on the capo may cause a brief buzz. Use of the steel original capo rather than the plastic clone results in longer ring but more buzzing. A capo of softer metal results in metal deposite on the fretboard. I believe that hard plastic is the best material and that the sound limitations are a fair price to pay for no obstruction above the stings.