Paige Capos have been made by the Paige family in Michigan for 33 years, providing quality, cost-effective, American-made capos to the fretted stringed instrument world since 1988.
Now they are preparing to introduce a new model, the Paige Pro, with a number of innovative design elements that they expect will revolutionize the way we look at fine capos going forward.
Bryan Paige and his wife, Lisa, run the company now, which Bryan and his dad started from their own tool and die shop all those years ago. Most consumers think of Paige as a budget capo outfit, as most of the items in their catalog for guitar, banjo, and ukulele are in the $15-$40 range, a price accessible for students, amateurs, and professional players looking for functionality at a decent price.
But Bryan said that it didn’t start out that way.
“I’m a tool and die maker, and me and my dad had a small shop that built parts and fixtures for the automotive industry. Dad played bluegrass guitar like Lester Flatt did, with a thumbpick. We decided to try making a capo in the shop since we were both guitar players. We had noticed people advertising a willingness to pay up to $75 for old McKinney capos in the late ’80s, and decided to try it ourselves. Before long we were making stainless steel capos for friends based on the old design, and designed new tooling to manufacture them in bulk.”
But after satisfying the demand through word of mouth, it became clear that the price they were asking in ’88, a whopping $29.95, was a bit rich for pickers who could buy a Shubb capo for $14.95. So their focus switched to making less expensive models based on Tom McKinney’s original design. Using less costly and lighter weight materials allowed them to compete head-to-head with other capos on the market, and Paige developed a distribution network of music retailers all over the world.
With the company running smoothly making capos for acoustic, electric, classical, and 12 string guitars, plus banjo and ukulele, Bryan has been spending time on his new idea for a high end capo for discriminating professionals and players who demand the very best for their valued instruments. The fact that such players are also willing to pay more for finely machined and manufactured capos these days certainly factored in his decision.
The Page Pro is a stainless steel capo, based loosely on the McKinney model of enclosing the neck and applying pressure from below, but instead of having a steel bar covered in a plastic or rubber-type sleeve, has six individual inserts placed in the u-shaped channel of the capo arm. Two patents are in the works for this model, one already granted for the insert system, and one in process for the unique thumbscrew wheel used to tighten and loosen on the neck.
Bryan explained the Paige Pro thusly…
“Across the bar there are six individual inserts, made from a hard, dense material, like your nut. Each has its own spring movement so that, when you clamp it down, each string can move to where its pressure is ideal. The inserts themselves are made using a high tensile plastic, similar to what you see in the Blue Chip picks.
The screw mechanism uses a left-handed double lead thread, which makes the pressure finely and individually adjustable. The whole bar system was designed for enhanced tone innovation, which we call ETI.”
Paige is offering a lifetime warranty on the steel parts, and the inserts and the suede that covers the inside of the capo surface are available as replacement items. The Paige Pro will sell for $230 once in production, though an initial batch of 150 for acoustic guitar are expected early in 2022. These, which will likely become collectible, are individually serialized and can be pre-ordered now for $200 online.
Another batch of 500 will be delivered in February, followed by banjo and 12 string guitar by next summer. The delay has been in finding a company to make the molds for the steel injection process. Their testing has shown that injected stainless steel retains 98% of the hardness and strength of machined stainless. It’s a process used for a good bit of dental equipment, and now that a firm in California has been found to build these molds, manufacture and assembly can begin in Michigan.
Bryan designed the Pro model himself, and he and Lisa have been involved with prototyping much of this year. They had planned to make the trip from Michigan to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for the Bluegrass Island Bluegrass festival last month display the prototype , but both came down with COVID. They have recovered nicely after participating in a jam session where several of the folks present had been exposed.
Paige is quite pleased with the end result.
“Now you can tune with the capo on. The string moves easily through the capo one it’s in place.
My friend David Carroll, from Hammertowne, tried one out and said that it’s like not having a capo on.”
The Pro also includes the technology introduced by Paige in their Clik models, which allows the player to press a button to bypass the tension created by the wheel in order to quickly move the capo to a new position on the fretboard, or to store it behind the nut.
Lisa shared a number of photos of the prototype, which we include below. Please note that the final product may differ ever so slightly in appearance, and that these photos are of a capo that has been heavily used and tested.
Pre-orders for the first batch of Paige Pros for guitar can be placed now online.
This article was originally published on Bluegrass Today.