Well, since nobody got me anything for Giftmas (sniff, tear) I figured I’d get something for myself. After all, I haven’t done something nice for myself in forever so I figured it was time I do so and take some of the sting out of the holiday season.
I’ve been playing guitar for years and one thing that I’ve always been disappointed with in some respect or another have been my capos. I use a capo a lot (probably more often than not) as I have to play in some weird keys to compensate for my relatively low vocal range so it’s been an almost constant struggle. I’ve gone through dozens of capos over the years and while some of them were good they always left me wanting in some respect or another. Then the family owned and operated Thalia came along a couple of years ago. I got one of the first releases as it excited me with its innovative concept of turning the mechanism upside down for fast key changes as well as making the capo a work of art, but I found it very hard to press and thus difficult to really use it to its supposed full potential.
So then I heard about the new and improved model dubbed the Thalia Capo 200. I went back and forth for a long time and for the holiday season I finally decided to pull the trigger and get me one in my preferred aesthetic choice (gold plated with blue abalone shell inlay – there are like 32 inlay options and 3 finish options to suit your own aesthetic taste) and I’m ever so glad I did.
My initial impressions upon opening the package were that the capo was a work of art – the shell inlay and gold finish were everything I’d hoped for and more. A quick glance over the instructions and I found it a snap (pun intended) to pop the stock fretpad out and replace it with the correct radius sliding fretpad for my Martin guitar (note that the capo comes with an assortment of both sliding and rubber fretpads to suit your preference and the radius of your guitar’s neck – and you can get “high profile”XL rubber pads as an option for use on 12 string guitars, mandolins, etc. that have higher tension).
I immediately noticed upon squeezing the capo that it was much easier to squeeze than the first generation Thalia. Due to the pressure required the first generation was almost unusable for me as I have relatively weak wrists and hands. This version I can squeeze without issue and place it where I want.
I placed it on my guitar and after a little bit of practice figured out how to use it to its full potential for quick key changes without missing a beat. With the sliding fretpads (a harder material) the strings sound as rich and resonant as open strings and with the correct radius the guitar stayed in tune all the way up the neck. I was able to get it to press the entire width of the fretboard all the way up to the 11th fret on my relatively wide Martin OM neck (1 3/4″ nut, 2 1/4” @ 12th fret), though I rarely capo above 5 so it was more than sufficient for that (whereas the first generation was only good up to about the 7th fret) or with the new design you can conveniently park it on the nut when not in use.
It was really hard to find any fault at all with the capo. I guess if I had to nitpick something about it it’s that it’s rather heavy (not something you really notice once it’s on the guitar) and I found it no more obtrusive than any other capo despite the relatively large profile. Also, if you’re going to do sharp bends you might want the XL pads for some added tension (as to keep the string in place at the capoed fret) but as I never do bends in my playing this is a total non-issue.
The Thalia is a bit pricier than a normal capo but for what you get with it (unparalleled beauty and artistry, the ability to match it to your guitar perfectly and the added function of quick key changes and ability to use as a slide) it’s worth every penny. I think I’ll be retiring all of my old capos and using this one exclusively from now on. It’s that good.
Above all though is that the story of how the company came to be is really a heartwarming one of a father and a daughter who started the company from a Kickstarter campaign. You can read/hear more about their story on their website. You’d be hard pressed to find a better example of the American dream.
If you play guitar or any other stringed instrument for that matter, do yourself a favor and order you a Thalia. You’ll be glad you did. Have a look through their wide range of finish and inlay options and pick one that matches your guitar or your personal style. This really is the grandaddy of all capos.
Pros: A work of art, easy to use, preserves tuning and tonal quality of the instrument, can be customized to suit playing style and individual instruments.