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Autoharp - and advice - wanted

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GUEST,Helen Roche 10 Aug 10 - 08:30 AM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Aug 10 - 09:00 AM
Nathan in Texas 10 Aug 10 - 09:23 AM
autoharpbob 10 Aug 10 - 09:36 AM
GUEST 10 Aug 10 - 10:01 AM
HelenR 10 Aug 10 - 10:34 AM
Bill D 10 Aug 10 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,Jo Ann Smith 10 Aug 10 - 03:03 PM
Rob Naylor 10 Aug 10 - 03:22 PM
beeliner 10 Aug 10 - 07:42 PM
Nathan in Texas 10 Aug 10 - 10:44 PM
katlaughing 10 Aug 10 - 11:00 PM
beeliner 11 Aug 10 - 03:40 AM
GUEST,OLDTIMER 11 Aug 10 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,OLD TIMER 11 Aug 10 - 05:52 AM
HelenR 11 Aug 10 - 10:24 AM
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Subject: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: GUEST,Helen Roche
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 08:30 AM

Hi all. I'd like to get an autoharp but I know nothing about them, or where to start. Obviously I'd like the maximum availability of keys that I can afford, and it's vital that I can play in Gm as I sing a lot of songs in that key!
Where should I start? What should I know? I realise that's a huge expanse of ignorance, but one has to start somewhere. :)
Btw, it's always possible that I could buy in the States as my husband is American and goes over quite often. So bear that in mind too, if it makes any difference.
cheers,
Helen


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 09:00 AM

There are many threads here on autoharps - place the word in the little box called "Lyrics & Knowledge Search" up near the top left of the main page listing all the threads - you will learn much about the instrument for a starter.

Also search Wikipedia for the entry - it will tell you the basics about what standard keys are on the instrument.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: Nathan in Texas
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 09:23 AM

Go to the Autoharp Page and join the Cyberpluckers list. They share info on all things autoharp. Let them know where you're located and likely you can find other 'harpers nearby who can help you. There are also links to autoharp luthiers on the site.

If you're interested, you can check out my "Hymn of the Week" autoharp instruction videos on youtube under user name Minstrelcraft.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: autoharpbob
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 09:36 AM

Nathan has great advice, Cyberpluckers will sort you out. Failing that, for specific advice on UK autoharps, go to http://www.ukautoharps.org.uk or by all means PM me - I am the organiser for UK Autoharp Days, the next one of which is in Tewkesbury on Sept 4th, with Mike Fenton and Bob Fish amongst others.

I didn't know there were a lot of songs in Gm! Sounds though that you would need a chromatic harp - set up to play in as many keys as possible - and biased towards the flat keys - you would need Bb and Eb as well as Cm. This might need some fidllng with the standard chromatic layout - I tend to play diatonics now, so have lost touch with what is standard.The guy who will help you most is Mike Fenton - http://www.harperscraft.com/
- and there will be no problem buying a decent harp over here and customizing it to what you need.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 10:01 AM

Thanks for all the advice and links so far. I might make it to the Tewkesbury Autoharp day. I'll PM you, Bob, for info on that.
Any song in a minor key can be sung in Gm! I guess it just fits my range comfortably. :)


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: HelenR
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 10:34 AM

Last post was me, obviously, and I have now remembered my login details. :)


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 11:27 AM

a basic 21 bar Oscar Schmidt will allow you to play in Gm... (I do only one song in that key, "Molly Brannigan", but it is handy)


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: GUEST,Jo Ann Smith
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 03:03 PM

There are a lot of autoharp videos on YouTube as well. I've put up a few myself -- just go to YouTube and search autoharp or "autoharpist". Gm is the relative minor for the key of Bb. Like Bill D said, a 21-bar OS will cover you, but that key is at the fringe of being supported really well. My suggestion, in addition to those great suggestions above, is to get your first autoharp from someone who deals with them for a living. Not only will you get an instrument that has all the "bugs" worked out of it, but you would get expert advice on setting up the autoharp to support the keys you really need.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 03:22 PM

The absolute NICEST autoharp I've ever seen is owned by Paulette Sheard in Kent,UK. Beautiful workmanship and a lovely tone...much nicer than the factory made one's I've seen around.

I asked her about it last time I saw her and she said it was custom-made for her in the USA by a specialist maker. I've got her email and phone number but wouldn't dream of giving them out without her permission. However, I'm pretty sure she uses some of the autoharp sites mentioned above. It'd be well worth finding out who made her autoharp and costing it. As I said, it's streets ahead of any other one I've seen.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: beeliner
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 07:42 PM

Helen, think seriously about how many chords you actually need for one set.

21 chord harps have a lot of chords, but that's about all they have. The action is IMHO far inferior to properly adjusted 12 and 15 chord models.

Many pros load only between 3 and 6 chord bars per set, changing them between performances as needed.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: Nathan in Texas
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 10:44 PM

I'm not sure there ARE "many pros" in the world of autoharping. Professional autoharpers? Almost an oxymoron. :)

I'd say your first harp should be 21-chord chromatic. If you should reach the point where you feel something else is needed, you'll know what it is.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 11:00 PM

Helen, thanks for this thread. I've thought about one over the years and am finally at the point where I want to gather more info, so this is great! Thanks to all for posting info.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: beeliner
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 03:40 AM

I'm not sure there ARE "many pros" in the world of autoharping. Professional autoharpers? Almost an oxymoron. :)

Well, I count at least 70 on the website you linked.

But compared to, say, guitarists, I suppose you're right.

OS 21's are renowned for jamming (mechanically, not musically) and Chroma 21's for broken chord bars.

I'm not a pro, I'm not even a musician (musicians have talent), I'm purely a music lover and autoharp hobbyist.

It would be hard for me to assemble a 10 song set of either/both traditional folk songs or pop favorites that would require more than 12 chords. But I have upwards of 30 chord bars, some of which I haven't used in years.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: GUEST,OLDTIMER
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 05:44 AM

Helen , first question is how deep is your pocket ?Here is a guy with whom I have dealt on many occasions & for me he is tops in every respect.Budget sensitive, knowledgable & obliging & a highly skilled dependable craftsman.Old , new , secondhand , customised or whatever you want , he is your man.Are you in a € or £ zone both are strong against the $ just now & £ for £ you are likely to get better value in the US for your spend unless you are very lucky .

Oldtimer


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: GUEST,OLD TIMER
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 05:52 AM

harpdr@harpdoctor.com

Thats the address , sorry !


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Subject: RE: Autoharp - and advice - wanted
From: HelenR
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 10:24 AM

Wow, thanks for all the advice, everyone. Oldtimer, I'll look up the harp doctor. I live in the UK but could potentially buy in the States as my husband travels there quite often.


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