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Autoharp tuning

Tigger the Tiger 09 Nov 11 - 06:13 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Nov 11 - 06:20 PM
PHJim 10 Nov 11 - 12:36 AM
GUEST,Geoff the Duck 10 Nov 11 - 04:19 AM
GUEST,Geoff the Duck 10 Nov 11 - 04:49 AM
Tigger the Tiger 10 Nov 11 - 06:00 AM
Geoff the Duck 10 Nov 11 - 06:47 AM
Steve Parkes 10 Nov 11 - 01:52 PM
GUEST,hg 10 Nov 11 - 11:33 PM
GUEST,hg 10 Nov 11 - 11:35 PM
Bev and Jerry 11 Nov 11 - 02:17 AM
Tigger the Tiger 11 Nov 11 - 08:06 AM
Richard Bridge 11 Nov 11 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 11 Nov 11 - 09:25 AM
Nathan in Texas 11 Nov 11 - 07:40 PM
Joe Offer 11 Nov 11 - 07:50 PM
Jack Campin 11 Nov 11 - 08:25 PM
Nathan in Texas 11 Nov 11 - 08:46 PM
Nathan in Texas 13 Nov 11 - 05:35 PM
Fortunato 13 Nov 11 - 07:05 PM
Bev and Jerry 13 Nov 11 - 10:24 PM
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Subject: Autoharp tuning
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 06:13 PM

I have not played this instrument in about 30 years. I bought it new and used it only part-time,when I wanted to play outside. I never tuned it myself. Having just looked at string prices,I am in shock. I plan to take this to a music store for tuning:do you think these strings are too old to tune?


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 06:20 PM

The damned things are nearly untunable and if you get a shop to do it you will only have to go again the next week.

Try a good tuner - a battery Petersen would be best but they are dear - and a longer-arm tuning handle eg a piano tuning handle with the right square recess. Or a mini-socket-set.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: PHJim
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 12:36 AM

I have a number of Autoharps and it takes me about 15 minutes to tune each Autoharp, but, although I don't agree that they are untunable, if yours hasn't been tuned for 30 years, Richard is right that you'll have to do several tunings before it stabilizes.
For the guitar, banjo, mandolin... I like the clip on tuners, but they do not work for tuning an Autoharp.
I recall Mike Seeger saying something like,"They're not too hard to play, but they're the devil to tune." I taught school for 30 some odd years and every school I went to there was a dusty old out-of-tune Autoharp in a store room or closet somewhere. I always got them out, dusted them off and tuned them and then everyone wanted to use them.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: GUEST,Geoff the Duck
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 04:19 AM

Electric tuners can be used, modern ones for guitars clip to a headstock and the clip can be difficult to attach to an autoharp.
we have one that opens wide enough, but can't at the moment recall which one.
Quack GtD.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: GUEST,Geoff the Duck
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 04:49 AM

One problem with using an electronic tuner is that they sometimes respond to harmonic vibrations, so it may show the note as F when the string is actually a B note. Not difficult to work around, but you do need to actually LISTEN to the notes.
I think our tuner is an Intelli tuner.
If looking to buy a clip on, I would advise actually trying one on your instrument before purchaase.

If the instrument hasn't been used for a long while,the stings may need replacing, but if they have been kept dry, may still be okay.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 06:00 AM

I think the basic question was whether strings this old would hold the tuning. I had an old friend that was a music theory major and classical pianist. He could tune this by ear;wish he were still around.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 06:47 AM

Only way to find out is to try.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 01:52 PM

Clip your tuner to one of the tuning pegs (& move it when necessary!)


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: GUEST,hg
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 11:33 PM

The strings made for autoharp are so much better now, it is worth it to invest in a set or two, I think. Unwind the pegs a turn and a half before you string each one and then tighten them with the new strings on. That's what Mark Fackeldy told me to do... Crisp new strings make a world of difference on the autoharp.
love, harpgirl


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: GUEST,hg
Date: 10 Nov 11 - 11:35 PM

Also, new strings will sound right and be easier to tune up and to keep in tune once they set. harpy


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 02:17 AM

The strings are not too old to tune. We have an 1898 model 73 harp with the original strings still on it. It's easy to tune and most of the time it stays that way for weeks.

But, as mentioned above,you'll have to tune it several times (once a day works for us)before it will stay in tune and new strings do sound better.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 08:06 AM

Thanks so much for the information.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 08:40 AM

I should have said - if the tuning goes out in minutes or seconds it's probably the tuning pegs.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 09:25 AM

Hi Tig

I have clipped my Inteli-touch guitar tuner to the bar holders and tuned that way. Mine are 12 and 15 bar harps. I don't like 21's. However it is probably best to buy a cheap stick on pick up and get a good chromatic tuner to use when tuning.

What Harpy said about strings is true but replace all of them or the sound may be spotty. I prefer the sound of old strings my self but then I'm deaf and my harps are amplified.

Don


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Nathan in Texas
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 07:40 PM

There will be an amazing improvement in the sound if you replace the strings. I replace mine every five years or so and am always amazed at how much better the new strings sound.

Nathan


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 07:50 PM

What's it cost for a set of strings, Nathan? If they're priced like guitar or violin strings, all those strings would cost a fortune.

It's a treat to see Jerry (of Bev & Jerry) tune an autoharp. He and Bev did music workshops in schools for 25 years, and Jerry tuned five or more autoharps daily.

I may take my Autoharp to Camp New Harmony this year and beg Jerry to tune it.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 08:25 PM

I have one of the el cheapo six-bar autoharps from about 100 years ago that serious autoharpers laugh at. I suspect the only string that's been changed is one I replaced because it was broken. I did clean the strings thoroughly, though. (And replaced the felts).

It stays in tune almost indefinitely.

I'm thinking of retuning it D Eb F# G A Bb c d to accompany klezmer tunes in the "freygish" mode.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Nathan in Texas
Date: 11 Nov 11 - 08:46 PM

Strings run from $55 to $95 a set, mail-order. You can find them at Autoharp Works and at Elderly Instruments

As with other instruments, you have ball ends and loop ends, so make sure you order the right one.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Nathan in Texas
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 05:35 PM

Another good source for strings is daigleharp.com.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Fortunato
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 07:05 PM

I had a piezo pickup installed in Susette's auto harp. She plugs an electronic tuner into the jack and tunes it perfectly in about 5 minutes. Problem solved.


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Subject: RE: Autoharp tuning
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 10:24 PM

Joe:

I'd be happy to tune your autoharp at camp. And by the way, it was actually seven harps tuned daily!

Bev and Jerry


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