Review G7th Performance 3 Capo
G7th are undoubtedly one of, if not the most innovative capo makers on the market. Their performance series have been the go to capo’s for many casual players and professionals alike in recent years. With the release of the third generation though the question is, should you buy it over the Performance 2?
I have personally been using a Performance 2 capo for about 5 years now, and can vouch for its quality and reliability. Like any great tool, it makes my life easy and I don’t have to worry about it. When G7th announced a new iteration of the capo with new technology, I was eager to try it out.
The build quality of the Performance 3 is just as exceptional as previous versions, constructed beautifully of two pieces of formed aluminium. I tend to liken the quality to modern Apple MacBooks, as the materials and finish feel very similar. There are a few small changes to the design compared to the previous iteration. While still sleek and beautiful, it is a little larger overall due to needing to fit the new ‘ART’ system inside. The edges and surfaces are more square throughout compared to the curves of the Performance 2, and the rubber grip more angular. Being slightly heavier, it feels more solid and utilitarian overall, while the performance 2 feels more slender in the hand. These are small changes, but if you’re a previous G7th user you will certainly notice the difference when you pick it up. The rubber string pad is also now separate to the side protection, which used to be one piece of rubber, but this design still provides complete protection to your guitars neck, something I love when quickly throwing on the capo.
What is ‘Adaptive Radius Technology’, and why do we need it?
This capo wasn’t released just for a new look though, and these design changes are mostly consequential of the new technology inside. The Performance 3 exists primarily to solve an issue that has always plagued capos, intonation and tuning stability. When applying a capo to a guitar, it’s difficult to ensure that pressure is being applied evenly across the neck. If too much pressure is applied to a string it goes sharp, too little and it will buzz.
There are two main problems which make this difficult to achieve. Firstly, the required pressure varies depending on the string gauge, guitars action and capo position. If the capo is too strong, as many spring based capos are, notes will be pressed sharp. The second problem is that fretboard radius varies from guitar to guitar, and without a capo that matches this radius more pressure will be applied to some strings than others (To complicate matters, the varying string gauge makes this curve asymmetric). For example, if the capo is too flat, the middle strings will be pressed harder than the outer strings, leading to strings going out of tune relatively to each other. This is why you will often need to re-tune after applying a capo and again when removing it.
The adjustable tension control of the Performance range, manipulated by simply squeezing the capo as desired, went a long way to solving our first problem by giving the guitarist intuitive control of the pressure applied. As for our radius problem, G7th’s solution is their new ‘Adaptive Radius Technology’, which I’m sure could have been given many names but this results in the appropriate acronym of ‘ART’.
This design features a cam system behind the string pad, which allows the capo to adapt to to the radius of a fretboard. If there is more pressure in the center of the pad, the center depresses and the edges protrude, therefor matching the radius and balancing pressure. At first I was skeptical this would work, as by my initial logic I thought the pressure required to alter the radius would be less than that to deform the rubber, therefor simply defaulting to maximum curve. After playing around with the pad however it appears that higher pressure at any one side of the pad stops the center depressing by blocking the cams from sliding.
I have tested the capo on a variety of guitars, from flat classical fretboards to Fender necks with smaller radius’s and could see a clear change in the capo’s radius. It’s not the easiest thing to photograph, but we can see the pad curving much more on the Strat, particularly on the bass side, accounting for the smaller radius and lower gauge 6th string. This is without applying any more pressure than is needed to stop strings buzzing. This feature is a big advantage for anyone who plays multiple guitars, especially if you play both electric and acoustic, giving you one capo that will perform well on virtually any guitar.
In use, the Performance 3 is really as good as it gets. It’s simple and intuitive to use while keeping your guitar in tune wherever you place the capo, on whichever guitar you use, buzz free. The performance 2 was already near perfect if you were an acoustic player, but in my experience did have issues with guitars such as Strats with lower radius fretboards. The new version is now more versatile and ensures even better tuning on a wider variety of guitars. The only downside is the price. This capo is one of the most expensive out there, but you’re really getting what you pay for. Not to mention you will likely never need another capo.
But should you buy this over the performance 2? If you play steel string exclusively and already own a Performance 2 that works for your current guitar, you may not see a big difference upgrading. If you play many different guitars or experience tuning problems with your current capo, this is the capo designed for you. Its certainly not cheap, but for the extra initial cost you will save yourself from a world of tuning problems and you will have a capo that will perform reliably for years to come. If you don’t yet own a G7th and are looking to buy one, for the extra cost over the previous model I’d certainly recommend the Performance 3.
The Performance 3 is available in Satin Silver, Matte Black and 18kt Gold Plate, with prices starting at £39.95 GBP (prices vary by territory) .
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