Review: Planet Waves NS Dual Action Capo Tuner

On January 26, 2011, in Gear, Reviews, by Magnolia Guitar

I want to preface this review by saying that I ended up NOT BUYING this capo. I had been wanting the Planet Waves NS Dual Action Capo Tuner for a long time, but I never got around to picking one up. Then after a little research, I’m glad I never bought it.

Planet Waves NS Dual Action Capo Tuner

When it first came out, I was initially amazed that such a thing as a combination capo/tuner didn’t already exist. It just makes so much sense to combine the two items.

If you don’t know, a capo is used to shorten the length of all or some of the guitar strings thereby increasing the pitch. They generally clamp across the neck, behind the fret.

The term capo is short for capo tasto or capo d’astro meaning roughly to tie off at the head.

I use a capo as a quick way to change a key of a song or to transpose songs and use more comfortable chord shapes for myself or my students.

The Planet Waves Ned Steinberger* Dual Action capo by itself is a pretty good improvement on the good ol’ standard Kyser capo design and provides fine tuning capability and still have a single-handed unit. (Also note that there is a second different Ned Steinberger-designed capo that is more like a Shubb capo with just the tension screw.)

While the capo is good, the problem is that the built-in tuner does not have a full note/pitch display. Without it, this tuner can only tell you if you are slightly off pitch (sharp or flat) as a result of the pressure of the capo itself or just after a normal amount of play. It’s a cleaner simpler design, for certain, but it also assumes that you are already in tune to begin with for it to work with any accuracy.

The descriptions of this tuner says that you can clip it to the headstock and tune your guitar. Also misleading since, again, it does not have a full display and cannot tell you what pitch each string is. Only that it might be sharp or flat. What if you want to change to an open tuning? Not unless you have perfect pitch, you can’t.

See for yourself in Planet Wave’s own official video of the product:

The demonstrator looks super excited, doesn’t he?

Since both the NS Capo and the Dual Action Capo are fairly good designs, I suspect that the Dual Action Capo Tuner was less Ned Steinberger’s idea and more Planet Waves (D’Addario).

At an average price of about $30, it’s comparable to the cost of buying a separate tuner and capo. Maybe less, depending on which brands you buy. But the fact remains is that it is not the sum of its parts and cannot replace a full-function chromatic tuner.

SUMMARY: Until they improve the tuner portion of this item, I would not recommend it.

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I will however, be writing a review of the slightly updated Shubb Deluxe capo. It’s hard to improve on a workhorse classic like the Shubb. Did they succeed? Stay tuned to find out.

* If you’re a guitar gear-head, the name Ned Steinberger might sound familiar. He made some bold cutting edge designs that lead to a series of instruments that are well sought after. And he’s still building today.

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