MESSAGE FROM HARVEY REID After manufacturing and selling the Third Hand Capo for 35 years, I have decided to stop. I now think of it as an "experiment," and part of what I learned from it is that you only think you need it but you really don't. Here's why:
* I am not convinced you need itI have spent many years researching partial capos very deeply, and have just published my series of Capo Voodoo books that show over 170 ways to use partial capos of all kinds, in dozens of tunings. (All 10 of the Capo Voodoo books are available on Amazon.com , on my web store at and many of them as iBooks in the iTunes bookstore.) Among the things I have learned is that there really are not that many musically compelling things you need a universal capo to do. I know you'd rather try out all the things and learn for yourselves how little musical value they have but I get tired making these things so people can find out how confusing partial capos are and get frustrated with them instead of enjoying the amazing new music. (Book 5 of my Capo Voodoo series shows most of the ideas that you can't do with the other types of capos, though there isn't anything momentous you're missing except tuning to D-A-D-F#-C-E while capoing 000022, which is a lovely and rich musical environment, though neither the Third Hand or the SpiderCapo can do it right anyway.) Of course I could easily have missed something, and I am sure there is a great idea (or several) out there that needs a universal capo, but those of you getting started with partial capos don't need to address this. After digging pretty deep for quite a while, I am willing to make the sacrifice and I urge you to believe me. We all have a lifetime of great things to work on that we can easily do with capos that are already here, easier to operate and look better. The Third Hand opened the door, and it was good for exploring, but before you explorers get too ambitious, I recommend we all learn to make great new music with what we have already found. If you want to be an explorer, go get good at A suspended partial capo configuration. (TUNING: EADGCE/ capo 002220) There are a lifetime of left-hand shapes, resonances, voicings and melodic pathways, and almost no one knows about it. It's one of the best.)
* People in general don't discover new useful ways to use partial capos. For decades I have watched as people have experimented with partial capos, and just turning them loose to try to find the good ideas is not the best use of everyone's time. No one can start from scratch and find all the great ways to use partial capos by themselves- it's tricky stuff, and quite opaque. The list of brilliant guitarists who have failed to see the value of partial capos is large. I understand capos pretty well, and I still find things that are right under my nose that never occurred to me, and I still try things that I think will work that turn out to be of little value. This is a tough idea to put across, and I don't like to tell people that their ideas are not that deep or valuable, but most partial capos ideas are. Only a few of them are really worth our time to learn and use, and I'd rather show people the exciting things I have found than cheerlead while they try to find them. The most widely distributed book (published by Hal Leonard) on partial capos features a number of ideas prominently that in my opinion are not musically valuable, and has only one of my Top 10 ideas in it.
The reason partial capos have not caught on is probably that they are inherently confusing, and they quickly remind us how little we understand the guitar fingerboard. (Partial capos seem to be the same as tunings, but they really are a very different concept, though we use them for the same reasons and they give similar results.) I have friends who have used Third Hand capos for decades, who have never successfully explored or discovered anything. This includes my former partner in the Third Hand Capo Company, a very smart man and a fine guitarist, who never found any new ideas in over 30 years of using them daily.
* I don't use it myself. From 1976 to 1996 this was the only partial capo, but now there are many types on the market. Only one of the other capos (the SpiderCapo) is a "universal" type that can handle all combinations of strings. The others clamp 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 strings. Over the years, I have used single-purpose capos in my concerts and recordings, and I use the Third Hand only for research and exploration. It is very visible, bulky, slow to operate, and blocks access to the fingerboard much more than lower-profile capos. Adding a screw clamp mechanism to replace the the elastic straps would just make it bulkier. When I find a new way to use it, I always prefer to shorten or modify another capo rather than use the Third Hand. Starting in about 1982 I began modifying Shubb capos, and have found them more reliable and more attractive, and I also used some Kyser and Woodie's G-Band capos. I quit using Third Hand capos in my own music over 30 years ago, even though I owned the Third Hand brand and would have benefitted personally from using, advertising and endorsing them. All I use on stage now is a pair of Liberty FLIP capos, which is my next generation partial capo design.
* I would rather spend my time and energy teaching people about the best ways to use the best partial capos. The idea of partial capos is gaining traction in the guitar world, and the big, bulky universal capos are much less likely to spread widely and really get used on a large scale. I just don't want to be manufacturing, explaining and selling a capo that I don't even keep in my guitar case, and that I honestly don't think you need in yours.
* I am making a new capo that I feel much better about using and selling. It's called the Liberty Flip Capo, and together with its sister capo the Model 65, it can do 113 of the 170 ideas in my books, and 18 of my "Top 20" favorite capo configurations. It's much smaller, lighter, easier to use, fits easily in your pocket, has a threaded clamp, is the least visible of all partial capos, and blocks the least amount of your fingerboard. And it will do 18 of the 41 ideas in the book for universal capos, Capo Voodoo Book 5.