This was the gadget that got it all
started for us back in 1974, and to this day it's STILL the only
fifth string capo worth putting on a banjo. It operates on a lever
principle, not a spring, so it provides sufficient pressure to fret
the string without muting the tone. It slides on a slim, dovetailed
bar which mounts flush to the neck, making it sturdy and unobtrusive.
Originally, our fifth string capo bar was eight
inches long, and attached to the banjo neck with three mounting
screws. About three years ago we remodeled the bar, a change which
I'd considered for many years. I've noticed that I never capo the
fifth string any higher than the tenth fret (this would go along
with the regular capo being at the fifth fret) ...there simply is
always a better alternative to capoing any higher than this. So
for my own banjo, I made a custom bar which was much shorter (5.75").
Now we've made the shorter bar our standard size. Besides taking
up less space on the neck (for you fellow thumb-wrappers), it offers
the additional advantage of using only TWO mounting screws instead
If you feel that you want to be able to capo all
the way up to the thirteenth fret, the old eight inch, three-screw
bar is still available as a special order item. The price is the
same, but there sometimes can be a delay, since we do not always
keep the old style long bars in stock.
Most places that work on instruments can mount it for you in just
a few minutes. Or if you are handy with tools, and not shy about
working on your banjo, you might want to install it yourself.
Expert luthier Frank Ford has provided an excellent description
of the proper
installation at his website. Even if you have a pro install
your capo, it would still be helpful to refer them to Frank's description,
since he has considerable experience at installing these capos.
I also suggest taking a look at his page regarding
fifth string nuts.