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Last Updated: Dec 3, 2017
Buying capos can be a pain.
Unless you can try the thing on your guitar(s) first it’s a real crap-shoot. I can’t tell you how many capos I’ve had to return over the years because it looked promising, but ultimately knocked my strings out of tune or let some strings buzz. Some capos actually did both. I own 3 different capos because no single one works well on all my guitars.
Capo manufacturers are in a tough spot, and I sympathize. With all the different guitar necks out there, they’re forced to build a radius (curvature) into their capos that’s “one size fits most.” This radius is usually somewhere around the 12″ mark, and the result is a capo that works well for some guitars, but not others.
Then, there’s Thalia…
The Thalia 200 Capo
The Thalia capo company has taken a unique approach to tackling these challenges. Realizing that “one-size-fits-most” just isn’t good enough, they’ve created a capo that accepts interchangeable fret pads, which allows you to essentially customize the capo to work perfectly on any guitar, including 12-string guitars.
Every Thalia capo includes two full sets of rubber fret pads: standard-tension and high-tension. Each set includes 7 fret pads, each with a different radius (curvature): 0″ (for Classical), 7.25″. 9.5″, 10″, 12″, 15″ & 16″. The high-tension set is actually 2mm taller–for ukuleles, banjos or guitars with thinner neck profiles.
It comes with a number of other little goodies as well, which you’ll see below.
Unboxing the Thalia Capo
Note that in some of the photos you may see a “Partial Rubber” fretpad tuning kit as well as a package of “Engineered Exotic Wood Picks.” These are not included with Thalia capos–they’re extra items that I bought separately.
When it comes to packaging I think Thalia took some cues from Apple. Even the shipping box is nicely branded inside:
Once you open the box, you’re greeted by a boatload of goodies:
The Thalia comes with a Quick Start Guide. I didn’t need to read it (and I didn’t) before using the capo, changing fretpads, etc. It was all pretty self-explanatory to me. I actually enjoyed just thumbing through the booklet after I’d already been using the capo for awhile.
A Closer Look at the Thalia Capo
My Thalia is the chrome and rosewood version, which is one of the more understated styles available. Regardless, it’s still a gorgeous capo, and if you want something different or fancier, you’ve got MANY styles and custom options available to choose from.
Changing the Thalia’s fretpad is easy. Simply pop it out as shown here. Once it’s out, snap the new one in by doing this same procedure in reverse:
The Thalia comes with two full sets of fretpads. One set contains 7 “normal tension” fretpads and the other set contains 7 “high tension” fretpads. Each fretpad has the fretboard radius stamped on the back. Simply choose the radius that matches your guitar’s fretboard:
Note: On some rare occasions, using the fret pad that exactly matches the radius of your fretboard doesn’t work well. For example, if your guitar has a 12″ fretboard radius and when you use the 12″ fret pad, the notes don’t fret cleanly. In that case, using a 10″ or a 14″ fret pad instead will usually fix the issue.
Size-wise, the Thalia is definitely a larger, beefier capo.
The Thalia Capo In-Use
To operate the Thalia, simply squeeze the spring-loaded thumb lever and the capo opens. Release pressure on the thumb lever and the Thalia automatically closes. About 15 – 18 pounds of pressure is needed to open the lever, so you’ll need average-or-better hand strength. The spring tension is firm, so if you have very weak hands or arthritis, you may have trouble using the Thalia:
The Thalia capo can be clamped on the neck from above or below–it’s really up to your personal preference. I prefer to have the Thalia clamped on over the top of the neck, but you may prefer the other way. Do whichever feels most natural to you:
Now, you may be thinking, “That capo looks big. Isn’t it heavy?” Sure, the Thalia by itself has a bit of heft to it, but it’s not heavy on your guitar. In other words, it doesn’t have any effect on the guitar’s balance nor can you tell that it’s on there.
One last thing worth noting: Unlike other capos, the Thalia is more forgiving of bad placement. This is because you’re able to choose the fretpad that matches your fretboard radius. So, if it’s a bit crooked and/or placed in the middle of the fret, your guitar will still be in-tune and buzz-free.
So, How Did it Perform?
The Thalia capo is, hands-down, the most effective capo I’ve ever used. It’s hard to imagine the Thalia capo not working on any standard acoustic or electric guitar, banjo, or ukulele. The ability to customize the Thalia’s curvature (and thickness) with one of the 14 included fretpads makes it nearly impossible for this capo to fail. Hell, in an effort to find some kind of fault I tried it on my 5-string bass. It still worked perfectly up to about the 7th fret. After that the bass’ neck became too wide.
I had zero issues with the Thalia squeezing my notes sharp. It can happen, but in those rare cases you simply shift the capo a bit and the issue disappears.
Ease of Use
The Thalia capo is very straightforward and easy to use. It’s more forgiving of bad placement, due to the fact that you can customize the fratpad to exactly match your guitar’s fretboard radius and neck thickness. This means you can have it slightly crooked or placed somewhere in the middle of the fret without any issues.
The capo can be clamped from the top (over the neck) or the bottom (under the neck). It’s up to you and your personal preference. I personally prefer having it clamped from the top.
If you have average or better hand strength, you’ll have no issues using this capo. However, the amount of pressure needed to squeeze open the lever may be too much for some people. This is why I’ve deducted 1 star here. My hand visibly shakes a bit whenever I have to squeeze the lever, and my girlfriend was unable to squeeze it at all unless she used two hands. It’s not unreasonable, but those with arthritis or otherwise weak hands (I have both) may struggle a bit.
Only 3 stars here because, let’s be honest, the Thalia capo isn’t cheap. As far as I can tell, it’s the most expensive capo available, but the value is there–especially if you own many different guitars. The Thalia is built like a tank with gorgeous, quality materials. You can be pretty confident that it’ll work flawlessly on all your guitars (and other stringed instruments). Lastly, it carries a lifetime warranty.
Let’s face it: some people just can’t justify the cost of a Thalia, and that’s okay. It’s not for everyone. However, for those who use a capo a lot and want one that’s basically guaranteed to work on everything, the Thalia is a worthwhile purchase.
The Thalia can be quickly clamped in place, then moved just as quickly. So, when it comes to speed the Thalia is just as “fast” as trigger-style capos. If you’re a guitarist who changes keys a lot, you’ll love it.
Unless you do something stupid, the Thalia is as safe as any other capo. I deducted half a star here simply because the rubber pad on the back of the lever is fairly firm. With normal usage and common sense, you have nothing to worry about and your guitar will be absolutely fine. However, be a doofus and leave the Thalia clamped in the same spot for several weeks, and you may have some dents (this is my opinion only–not tested nor confirmed). This is true of just about any capo you leave clamped on your guitar for excessively long periods. So, don’t do that.
What Others Are Saying
Here’s what a couple other guitarists think of the Thalia capo:
Recap: What I Liked
- Lifetime warranty on workmanship and all mechanical components, including the spring, lever, and housing.
- The 14 interchangeable fretpads make this capo nearly fail-proof. Choose the fretpad that best matches your guitar’s fretboard radius and neck thickness, and you should have zero issues.
- Thalia capos are built like a tank with premium, top-quality materials.
- 26 different standard inlay options, with additional customization possible (for an added charge) including laser etching.
Recap: What I Did’t Like
- The strength required to operate the lever can be too much for weak or arthritic hands. My hand visibly shakes when I squeeze it, and my girlfriend was unable to squeeze the lever at all, unless she used two hands.
Objectively, I couldn’t find many flaws with the Thalia 200 Series capo. It’s the only capo you can buy, sight-unseen, that’s pretty much guaranteed to work on all of your guitars (or banjo or ukulele). I only wish I’d found it years ago, before I blew a bunch of money investing in different capos for all my different guitars.
If you’re hung up on the the premium price tag, well, I’m probably not going to be able to change your mind. Without actually trying a Thalia yourself, you probably won’t be able to bring yourself to drop that kind of money on one.
I’d love to lend you mine to try out, but this is one capo I’m never letting go.
Do you use a capo and, if so, which one(s)? I’d love to know, so let me know in the “Leave a Reply” section down below.