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Instruments: Tuning An Autoharp

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LadyJean 16 Aug 13 - 12:52 AM
GUEST,Denis McKay 16 Aug 13 - 01:47 AM
open mike 16 Aug 13 - 03:40 AM
alex s 16 Aug 13 - 10:02 AM
Backwoodsman 16 Aug 13 - 11:51 AM
Bill D 16 Aug 13 - 11:57 AM
PHJim 16 Aug 13 - 11:53 PM
LadyJean 17 Aug 13 - 12:03 AM
PHJim 17 Aug 13 - 12:49 AM
Bill D 17 Aug 13 - 12:07 PM
GUEST 05 Jan 17 - 07:20 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jan 17 - 07:59 PM
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Subject: Chord Req: Tuning An Autoharp
From: LadyJean
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 12:52 AM

When I was younger I had an autoharp. I stopped playing when it got rained on, and didn't work. Well, I went and bought another one this week. Now I have to tune the thing.

The way I tuned the last one, sit down at the piano with the tuning wrench and remember not to curse too often or too loudly, would be difficult since I don't have a piano.

The other way I used to tune it, let mom do it, isn't practical in that my mom died in 1992.

Anyone have any ideas?


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Tuning An Autoharp
From: GUEST,Denis McKay
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 01:47 AM

The advent of the chromatic tuner makes tuning the "wee box of strings" a doddle. A chromatic tuner is inexpensive .

Once you have played for a while you may want to the 'sweet tune' the bass and treble by ear.

I plat both diatonic and chromatic autoharps and am happy to help, if I can.

Denis McKay in Oz.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Tuning An Autoharp
From: open mike
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 03:40 AM

there are several clip on tuners .. intelli is one, intellitouch is another..there are several....they tell you what note is being played and tell you if you need to tighten or loosen the string to get it to the tone you need.

there are also several online tuning helpers...
one that generates a tone and you can match that note with your instrument ....
others can "hear" the note you play, and let you know what you
need to do to get it on tune...tune up or down...

try this...http://www.get-tuned.com/online_instrument_tuner.php
or this: http://www.onlinetunermetronome.com/

your computer will need a microphone or speakers for these.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tuning An Autoharp
From: alex s
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 10:02 AM

I use a Snark chromatic clip-on tuner. Don't get one just for guitar.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tuning An Autoharp
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 11:51 AM

You could try sending a PM to 'Catter 'autoharpbob'. I know him, he's a very nice guy and a great player, I'm sure he'd have good advice for you.

Maybe Bob will read this thread and chime in?


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tuning An Autoharp
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 11:57 AM

A lot depends on the age and style of the instrument.... the really older types (light weight, usually black bodies) are more 'delicate' and can warp. Newer styles in brown/blond woods made after the 60s are usually stronger. *IF* you have an older one, be very careful if you ever replace strings to match the string diameter, as newer strings are heavier and can warp an older instrument.

A digital tuner is easily the best way. I prefer the older style with a 'hand', rather than just digital read-out, but just be sure it will handle all octaves.

If the 'harp hasn't been tuned recently, go slowly! I suggest tuning all of one note... that is, all the Cs, then all the C#s, then Ds,,,etc. to even out the stresses. (An autoharp has a large amount of pressure from all those strings.)
Once you get to the last strings, it will almost surely need to have the first ones adjusted as the wood AND the strings respond to the new settings. After a few playings & retunings, it will settle in and, if played & retuned semi-regularly, will not need as much adjustment. Still- weather and humidity changes will affect it, just as on a guitar, but over 6 times as many stings of very different length.

Tuning is easier using a T-handle wrench which fits well, as the L-shaped wrenches are a bit harder to get exactly the right amount of torque/pressure. (I prefer an 8-point, rather than 4-point wrench, as they tend to slip less.)


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tuning An Autoharp
From: PHJim
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 11:53 PM

I prefer the eight point long handle L shaped tuning key. These seem to give me more leverage. I have a T shaped wrench with a square socket, that came with one of my 'harps, but prefer the long handled one.
I have trouble finding a good place to fasten the clip-on tuners to the 'harp, but the red Snark has a mic option and it doesn't have to be clipped on to use this.
Before the advent of electronic tuners, I used to tune to an "In Tune Guitar". The range of a standard chromatic 'harp starts at the F on the first fret of the 6th string and goes to the C at the 20th fret of the first string. I found it easier to tune a plucked string to another plucked string. I try to budget about 15 minutes to tune a 'harp, unless it's badly out of tune.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tuning An Autoharp
From: LadyJean
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 12:03 AM

Thanks for the advice. I'm checking out tuning wrenches. The local acoustic store doesn't sell them. The guy says, he only gets one request a year. So let's hear it for Amazon


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tuning An Autoharp
From: PHJim
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 12:49 AM

The top one is cheaper, but either of the two at the bottom will serve you better:   Elderly's Autoharp wrenches


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tuning An Autoharp
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 12:07 PM

Also... I strongly recommend a tuner with a ¼" input and a clip-on like this for an auutoharp. It clips to the strap peg...or even a tuning peg. Lets you tune in a crowded, noisy room.

(I still use an older Korg electronic tuner. The newer ones are digital and a bit smaller & lighter, but.. if it ain't broke....)


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tuning An Autoharp
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 07:20 PM

I suggest that you tune your autoharp with a digital tuner that will give a readout in cents. if you don't know about cents then your probably tuning to 12 tone equal temperament!
confused? then I suggest that you read and study a type of tuning called JUST intonation or otherwise known as pure tuning,you will enter into a new world of sound. very briefly a much more melodic sound is produced using this type of temperament amongst others. some notes are tuned flat by as much as say 12cents, while others are tuned sharp by as much as say 6cents.
ok you may want to know what particular values in cents are required for each note.
ANSWER go to a website on JUST INTONATION by KYLE GANN its an eye/ear opener.
you don't know what your missing.
hope this helps, best of luck denj.jones@tiscali.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tuning An Autoharp
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jan 17 - 07:59 PM

ClearTune (for iPhone or Android) is dirt cheap and lets you use dozens of different tunings, or define your own.


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