Thalia Bradley had the idea for artistic capos in gorgeous finishes.
Her father Chris put it into production.
Artistry and design combine at Bay Area startup
With its swirling exotic wood and ornate fingerboard inlay, the Taylor Koa Series guitar made for Taylor Swift is proof that a guitar can double as a work of art. It was this guitar that made someone ask: Couldn’t a capo do the same? That someone was Thalia Bradley, eight years old in 2010, whose poster of Swift and her guitar sparked the idea for a capo to match. She mentioned the idea to her father Chris Bradley—and that was the conversation that led to Thalia Capos. A guitar player and accomplished inventor, Chris took the idea and ran with it, developing high-tech capo designs in more than 80 varieties of exotic woods, lustrous finishes, and pearlescent shell inlays. In addition, Chris devised an original capo design, engineered to be used in the fretting hand for quick changes on the fly. A Kickstarter campaign brought in nearly $200,000 toward the effort. The capos went on sale through the company website in 2014, going on to earn multiple honors including the International Design Award and Good Design Award for 2015, and the Red Dot Product Design Award and Edison Award the following year. At the 2017 Winter NAMM Show, they’re due to make their debut to retailers.
“Design is everything,” says Chris, also the CEO of product development consulting firm 2ndEdison. “When you have this gorgeous form that meets an amazing function, that marriage is what really makes a product exceptional.”
With its base in the San Francisco Bay area and the culture of Silicon Valley, Thalia Capos’ mission is as technical is it is aesthetic. Using computer-aided design software to draw up new models, engineers use in-house 3D printing to create and refine their prototypes. The finished product is die-cast in zinc and plated at a partner factory in China before being shipped to California for inspections and intricate finish work. There, thin sheets of sustainably harvested wood and shell inlay—offered in a vast selection including Hawaiian koa and bird’s-eye maple as well as “Black Ripple” and “Carbon Fiber”—are laser-cut to precise dimensions and applied to each capo by hand. Custom engravings and inlays are also available. Structurally, Chris’s design allows the capo to work “using the same fretting motion as you’d use when you do a barre chord,” he explains. Easy to move to any position and slide over the fretboard, it’s conducive to key changes within songs and smooth transitions between songs. Specially designed fretpads in a custom blended thermoplastic make it possible to fit the capo to most any fretboard radius. To date, Thalia capos have secured two U.S. patents, and several others are pending.
From its original design, Thalia Capos progressed this year to its 200 Series, a redesigned capo notable for its longer length—for increased leverage—and thicker fretpads to fit an even wider variety of guitars. The company has also taken its aesthetic concept into picks, crafted from micro-thin layers of exotic woods bonded together in a crosshatch pattern, yielding a patent-pending design that’s as thin as a plastic pick but with the warm tone of wood. As they extend their line to music retailers, the Thalia team expects to find a market for both products as attractive gifts and impulse items as well as refined guitar accessories. “We’ve taken the idea of artistry and beauty that come from the guitar,” says Chris, “and brought that into the capo so that the capo is also a work of art.”
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