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Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?

Big Ballad Singer 18 Jun 11 - 02:24 PM
Leadfingers 19 Jun 11 - 07:59 AM
wysiwyg 19 Jun 11 - 08:46 AM
Bev and Jerry 19 Jun 11 - 07:28 PM
Bugsy 19 Jun 11 - 10:01 PM
GUEST,Big Ballad Singer 19 Jun 11 - 11:04 PM
PHJim 20 Jun 11 - 10:19 PM
threelegsoman 21 Jun 11 - 07:58 AM
PHJim 21 Jun 11 - 01:09 PM
PHJim 21 Jun 11 - 01:13 PM
PHJim 21 Jun 11 - 01:21 PM
PHJim 21 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM
Jane of 'ull 26 Aug 11 - 03:57 PM
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Subject: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 18 Jun 11 - 02:24 PM

Hi all... I know how to play autoharp a little, but I have never owned or shopped for one.

What, besides the obvious Oscar Schmidt, is a good brand of autoharp? What is a reasonable price range for a new harp, considering that it need not be hand-built or of super-high-grade materials? What should one look for in a used harp (what parts should be there, what should be avoided)?

Also, are there any "pitfalls" in buying a used autoharp? By way of analogy, a person skilled at guitar repair and improvement might still shy away from a guitar with a neck that's really out of whack. What kinds of things are tell-tale signs that an autoharp is basically a "goner"?

Thanks... you guys sure are helpful.


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Jun 11 - 07:59 AM

I am NOT an expert , though I DO have an old Autoharp that I am slowly renovating
There is not a lot , as far as I can see , that can go wrong with an Autoharp unless it has been badly treated or left in a damp place
Restringing is NOT a cheap game and a bit more time consuming than a Guitar , and springs can lose tension !
Good Luck any way


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Jun 11 - 08:46 AM

See thread on Gold Tone 'harps.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 19 Jun 11 - 07:28 PM

We have renovated about a dozen old autoharps and here's what we have found. Anything is easily repairable and you can buy a junk autoharp to get the parts you need. But, never buy an autoharp that has a crack in it or that is warped. Your eye will tell you if either of these conditions exist.

All the autoharps we renovated were 12 bar models from the 1950s or 1960s. You can get one (or more) of these on ebay for $50 or less. If you want more chord bars you can get up to 21.

We wouldn't buy anything but an Oscar Schmidt. We actually bought an 1898 Oscar Schmidt in perfect condition on ebay for about $75 and are still playing it.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: Bugsy
Date: 19 Jun 11 - 10:01 PM

I had a ROSE MORRIS autoharp in the 60's. Played well and never had any trouble with it. I got it as a 16th birthday present from my dad, so I KNOW it wasn't expensive. He wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise.

Cheers


Bugsy


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: GUEST,Big Ballad Singer
Date: 19 Jun 11 - 11:04 PM

Thanks, all. Susan, I will indeed look up that thread.

I know Seeger's book is a "bible" of sorts to many who play the 5-string banjo. Is there a book out there that people would consider a must-read reference point for the autoharp?

Thanks a bunch!


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: PHJim
Date: 20 Jun 11 - 10:19 PM

Becky Blackly wrote The Autoharp Book which every serious Autoharpy (Is that a word?) should own. It doesn't have much on playing, but everything you'd want to know about the history of the Autoharp.
I love to play diatonic 'harps, because I play mostly old timey and folky tunes on the 'harp. Diatonic 'harps double up many strings and sound richer and less metallic than chromatic 'harps, but you can't play tunes with many chord changes and accidentals.
Chromatic 'harps are not as rich sounding as diatonics, but you can use many more chords and all the notes you want are available.
Bryan Bowers is a player of the diatonic harps and has instructional material on Homespun tapes. The late Mike Seeger was a great folk/old time Autoharpist who also has material on Homespun. Probably the first Autoharp instruction manual, comparable to Pete's banjo book was an Oak publication written by Harry Taussig in the mid sixties.

All of my 'harps are OS "A" models from the sixties. I have a couple of Appalachians, designed by Mike Seeger, Maybelle Carter and another 'harpist whose name eludes me right now. I also have a couple of old black boxes from the same era. Each of these have been converted into diatonics of different keys (two keys per 'harp) and they work fine, but have been modified severely.


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: threelegsoman
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 07:58 AM

I have recently purchased a new 21-bar Ashbury autoharp which cost about £350 including post and package. It has the advantage of having its own jack plug and preamp which allows it to be played through an amplifier if so desired. You can see how it compares to my old 12-bar Chord Harp if you look at my autoharp playlist:

threelegsoman My Autoharp playlist


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: PHJim
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 01:09 PM

Some Googling revealed that Harry Taussig's book is out of print, but is still available here:
Folk Stye Autoharp


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: PHJim
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 01:13 PM

Here's where you can find Becky's book:
Becky Blackley's The Autoharp Book


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: PHJim
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 01:21 PM

Here's Bryan Bowers playing a diatonic 'harp. It only has 9 chords and plays in only one key, but sounds great.

Bryan Bowers singing When I Go


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: PHJim
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM

...and here's a young Bryan Bowers opening for the Seldom Scene in 1979. At this time he had only six chord bars on his OS harp. He also moved the chord bar assembly down to the bottom of the 'harp so he'd have room to hit the higher strings. Bryan often brings 5 or 6 'harps on stage with him in order to have different keys at his disposal, much like a mouth harp player. Sorry, but the sound drops out a bit on this video.


Bryan Bowers Battle Hymn Of The Republic


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Subject: RE: Good-quality autoharp (new or used)?
From: Jane of 'ull
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 03:57 PM

This is helpful, I am also looking for an autoharp.


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