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Help: Electric Autoharp

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GUEST,chip 09 Mar 01 - 12:51 PM
Bill D 09 Mar 01 - 12:55 PM
chip a 09 Mar 01 - 01:32 PM
catspaw49 09 Mar 01 - 01:38 PM
Bluesman and kde 09 Mar 01 - 04:29 PM
wysiwyg 09 Mar 01 - 05:09 PM
catspaw49 09 Mar 01 - 06:48 PM
wysiwyg 09 Mar 01 - 06:50 PM
GUEST,chip a 09 Mar 01 - 09:47 PM
catspaw49 09 Mar 01 - 09:53 PM
GUEST 10 Mar 01 - 01:06 AM
catspaw49 10 Mar 01 - 01:16 AM
BlueJay 10 Mar 01 - 04:57 AM
Susan of DT 10 Mar 01 - 06:41 AM
wysiwyg 10 Mar 01 - 10:38 AM
chip a 10 Mar 01 - 11:01 AM
wysiwyg 10 Mar 01 - 11:37 AM
GUEST 10 Mar 01 - 12:29 PM
Bill D 10 Mar 01 - 01:44 PM
wysiwyg 10 Mar 01 - 01:57 PM
DonMeixner 10 Mar 01 - 03:22 PM
catspaw49 10 Mar 01 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Anon 10 Mar 01 - 03:51 PM
Bill D 10 Mar 01 - 07:04 PM
Matt_R 10 Mar 01 - 07:37 PM
GUEST 10 Mar 01 - 11:05 PM
Matt_R 10 Mar 01 - 11:09 PM
BlueJay 11 Mar 01 - 04:29 AM
GUEST,Ken 05 Mar 07 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,Jimmyfear 08 Jul 08 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,Jimmyfear 08 Jul 08 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,Rita 05 Jul 09 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 09 - 02:16 AM
Judy Dyble 06 Jul 09 - 02:12 PM
Claymore 09 Jul 09 - 04:32 AM
GUEST,dsk 15 Jul 09 - 06:06 AM
GUEST,Renata 15 Jul 09 - 07:45 PM
GUEST 08 Dec 09 - 09:16 PM
dav_byn 08 Dec 09 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Lou 20 Feb 10 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,Lancer and Cutlass 03 May 10 - 09:46 AM
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Subject: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,chip
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 12:51 PM

I have an electric Oscar Schmidt in a hard case. It's in good shape & it plays beautifully. This thing is a solid body & white in color. Does anyone know anything about it? Value, age, anything? I also have a 21 chord acoustic which I play. Someone who knew I played had the electric & thought I needed it. Well, maybe, but I haven't figured out what for yet! Enlighten me! Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: Bill D
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 12:55 PM

electric totally? or with just a pickup attached?...there are lots of folks who wanted the freedom to jump around and have attached pickups...

if it plays...you are fine...but WHITE?? put folky decals on it!


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: chip a
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 01:32 PM

Yes, totally! A solid body electric. They don't make enough folksy decals to disguise this thing!


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 01:38 PM

Oh Susan .... Where are you???? I'm sure she'll show up here......

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: Bluesman and kde
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 04:29 PM

Check out the thread on AUTOHARP RESTRINGING today. Susan and I are already talking electric autoharps....Jim


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 05:09 PM

Chip,

Peer inside the soundhole (good Lord it DOES have a soundhole???) for the label and see if you see a serial number. OS can tell you about it then? Hmmm... I THINK it was Elderly who interpreted mine's serial number for me.

I do know that they used similar or identical model names from year to year to mean different instruments-- like an OS-XXX was one axe one year, and another in another.

Screw this imagining shit-- I wanna see a picture! Yeah!! PICTURES! E-mail to me and I can spread them around the gang for ya if you like.

And screw the decal idea-- you need airbrushing on this! Are you selling it BTW? Whassup?

Or is this stringless with electric synthesized chords? What do they call that again...?

CRS is awful today.

As far as what to DO with it-- mmmmm! Where are you? I can show you!

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 06:48 PM

"Omnichord" is what they called it Susan.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 06:50 PM

Omniduh!

B!

*G*

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,chip a
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 09:47 PM

No! It's not an omnichord! It's a SOLID BODY Oscar Schmidt Autoharp with NO SOUNDHOLE. In Excelent shape too. I can play it just fine in a sort of Maybelle kind of way. But has anyone else ever seen one? Maybe a coat of barn red applied with a coarse brush. "see Ruby Falls" could be painted on the back to help it out.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 09:53 PM

So why not paint it half with "Ruby Falls" and the other half as "See Rock City".........just where in north Georgia do you live chip? Live up there in the Helen half of Georgia?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 01:06 AM

Bill D. you play the autoharp and are a good woodworker. Ever thought about making one, then lining the sound board with piezoelectic pickups. You can get a lot of little ones cheap now, and put neon lights around the the outside and put on a synchronized light show just by strumming. You really don't know what folk music is until you see those lights going at it at every hammer stroke in "John Henry".


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 01:16 AM

LMAO........Guest, you really have a sense of humor or you don't know Bill D. His computer is run by hamsters on a wheel. The idea of Bill electrifying an autoharp is a riot!!!!!

Oh then again, what the hey Bill.........You got that MacArthur harp just lying around.......Paint it red or bright blue and throw on some lights..........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: BlueJay
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 04:57 AM

Chip- Yeah, I saw one years ago, in Denver. Solid Oscar Schmidt, no soundhole. And painted bright YELLOW. It was called the "electric banana", as I recall. I never played it, but it sounded pretty good, though not as good as the better quality acoustic harps in our group. I've never seen one since.

Regarding pickups, (if I might be allowed a personal plug), I use a Pick-Up the World model #30 on my old beater OS. Same pick-up I have on my Guild six string. It's about three inches long, but manages to pick up the entire soundboard quite well. I was surprised. I put it on the soundboard beneath the chord mechanism, so as to be out of sight, and filed a little notch in the upright chord bar support for the wire. The pickup unit itself is flexible and attaches with self-adhesive tape, so mounting is easy.

As far as building a solid body autoharp, utilizing piezos: The various piezo "dots" available are not up to the job, IMO. You might be able to spread them out enogh to cover the entire soundboard, but the wiring would be tricky, to say the least. So far it hasn't been tried using Pick-Up the World, and I'm quite skeptical. PUTW would work better than the other sensors available, I'm certain. Rick Rubarth, a builder of fine concert and folk harps in Boulder, CO, devised a line of solid body concert harps utilizing PUTW. The sound is great, and the overall cost to his customers is less.

But the autoharp is a different animal. So far, PUTW has been used with great success on solid body instruments such as bass and electric guitar. The proper mounting for the film is in the bridge of these instruments, using a thin metal shim to prevent rupture of the film.

The "bridge" of an autoharp, however, is at the heel of the instrument, far from being tonally ideal. Hence my skepticism. I do know that Pick Up the World pick-ups work very well on acoustic autoharp soundboards. So, while theoretically possible, I think the idea of using piezo pick-ups for a solid body autoharp is impractical.
I don't see any advantages to such an approach. True, a solid body autoharp would be easier and less expensive to make, but I don't think the sound would compare with a good quality hollow body harp, with a good pick-up such as PUTW. Also, wouldn't a solid body autoharp weigh like twice as much as a hollow body? Thanks, BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: Susan of DT
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 06:41 AM

So this isn't one of those stringless wonders that you strum air?
Oscar Schmidt did get tasteless at times. a long time ago I traded a respectable looking 12 chord model for a 15 chord that is a red sunburst model. I'm not sure that was worth the extra chords


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 10:38 AM

I'll take one with lights. The kids' concerts can only get better. And I think a headband with two disco balls rotating on springs-- like antennae-- would be an enhancement as well. And I want the special refractive finish too that displays whatever I am thinking about as I play-- so people can see the hymns coming and duck if they like-- or so they can enjoy the bawdy tunes all the more.

Spaw if you could work up drawings this might aid your recovery process; aren't you going to have some down time soon? *G* Design a good big case now, too, with screw-in legs so I can play it tabletop, tilted. Don't forget the amp needs to be part of the case too-- cowabunga!

OK. Most times, before we got the present system, I was picking up the vocal and the harp together on a Shure SM57. Now I've gone to the pickup and the Shure SM58 for the vocals, going into a nice Crate acoustic-type amp. But dang, you know if I don't aim that mic carefully I get the harp on the SM58 as well as through the pickup. Maybe THAT's why the parishioners are sitting farther toward the back than they used to.... kidding.

Actually the sound is pretty awesone with the pickup and mic adding to the sound this nice harp makes in our amazing acoustics all by itself. The tilt of the table sends the sound up and back over my head, to bounce off the huge, box-shaped, vaulted choir and altar area-- it really does fill the whole church, like incense, with the rest of the sound bouncing off the stone walls off to the sides and way back through the deep seating area to the entrance doors.

I wish some of you harpers would drop by and play from that spot zo I could sit out front and listen-- I never get to hear what the people do.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: chip a
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 11:01 AM

Spaw --- Over the mountain from Helen.Right under the N.C. line. Where are you? Chip


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 11:37 AM

Chip,

Spaw's in Ohio. But where are you from our Matt R? He's at Eastern NCU (if I have it right). Greenville? He's pretty kicked-up, our Matt. You'd have a blast. He needs to get off campus to have more fun, too-- try a PM maybe and see if you could hook up?

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 12:29 PM

Catspaw49. I don't think you put things together right. It's all powered by that strum thumb. Bill D. would be his own power generator, no dynamos involved. Electomagnet pickups could do the same but there too big. You couldn't find the auto harp in them equivalent if you got the same power generation capacity.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 01:44 PM

Oh, sure!...Then I get some dark glasses and sit on a steet corner with my case open and just watch the $$$$$ pile up!.......(or maybe issue dark glasses to the bystanders to cope with the lights!)No, wait! Maybe I could go to a Harley modification convention where they compete to see how many light they can get on a bike! I could be on the program and.........

nawwwww...don't think so, if I did this, then all those Martin D-00000000018 etc., owners would be at my door, bugging me to add those lights to THEIR axes!

(wondering if O' Carolan would have used piezoelectric lights if they'd been available...)


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 01:57 PM

No silly, SOUND EFFECTS for him.

Beeps, bells, and whistles. Calliope effects.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: DonMeixner
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 03:22 PM

Electric Autoharps are not at all uncommon. They were made in the late 60's and early seventies just after they changed to the "B" type body style, 1967 0r 68 I think, maybe earlier, maybe a little later. I believe they have a D'Armond pick up in them and actually sound pretty OK for what they are. I have a D'Armond on my EB-15H and it sounds OK..... Imagine a pick up on an instrument that is all sustain? Yikes!

Putting an kind of transducer on an Autoharp is more of a problem thatn you can imagine. Every button push, spring creak, bar slap, bump or knock is amplified. It sounds like changing a team of horses.

Value is tough. Its worth exactly what someone who wants one bad enough will pay for it.

Don


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 03:39 PM

Hi Chip........Yeah, I'm in Ohio, but I lived in tlanta (like a lot of other yankees) and also Chattanooga and Charlotte. Met and married my wife in Atlanta as a matter of fact. I worked that area for a long time and know it pretty well. Fine and beautiful country. We still get to Atlanta now and then since most of Karen's family is in the area.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,Anon
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 03:51 PM

Ah, electric. Those electrons are really pretty dumb, and don't take suggestions as to what they are expected do very seriously, and even commands are haughtily ignored. We are thus, ashamedly, forced into slave labor. But instead of whips, chains, stun guns, stupefying injections and the like (solitary confinement proved to be self defeating), we have resorted to volts and gauss to whip them into shape.

Now electrifying an autoharp isn't exactly trivial, but is well within the capabilites on modern technology. We need to get rid of those winding pegs that tighten the strings and replace them with magnetostrictive transducers (or cheaply and crudely with a solenoid whose current can be adjusted to give the right amount of pull). We then put a piezoelectric array on the sound board so we can follow each string very precisely (array indexes are exactly like those that locate the pixel you're looking at now at the top right end of that w

A quick strum across the stings picks out all the array elements of each sting, one by one, and a fast fourier transform on our internal palm held type of computer (internal, or better in the players pocket with an simple US bus to the autoharp) tells us the frequency of each string, and the difference between that and in a stored scale is converted D to A, and a hybrid analog- digital capture-and-hold give us the voltage to send to the magnetostrictive transducer to pull the strings to proper pitch. (With simple-minded 12 tone equal temperament tuning we can bypass that table and simply calculate the proper pitch for each string, dividing down our computer's quartz cristal oscillator in the usual way to get A=440.0000000 Hz. (Ears are very forgiving of small errors so there's really little need to tie our computer to the cesium clock time-frequency standard in Colorado (It's simply an matter of local pride (one upsmanship) that they do that there, and it only takes them a short optical fiber to tie into it.)

Now, a few nanoseconds later, when they are all at proper pitch, we make another strum and fourier transform it sting by string and get the ratios of the harmonics of each string and compare with a stored table of ideal values for each string. (A simple analytical distribution approximation would probably suffice, so we wouldn't have to type up the tables.) We can then tell if someone made a mircokink in winding the strings, giving us a small region of chaos in the string. There is no cause for alarm, as we simply we do a linear least squares fit on the pixel values for the string and locate these chaoses precisely and simply drop the chaotic pixel elements out of the total electrical signal for the string. A very slight loss of information (Information =2*T(tune length in seconds)*W(frequency response range of good human ears (inadequate if your audience is dogs). Constant air pressure doesn't make any difference to the ear's response to the phonons, so we can ignore the additive 1 that sometimes appears in our equation. It's usually forgotten, anyhow.

Nothing has been said here about volume, but autoharps only rarely get up to 120 decibels, the threshold of pain. Here, that 1 we neglected in the information equation could tell us our eardrums are about to pop, but we wouldn't want to alarm the audicence with trivia like that. What they don't know won't hurt them until it's too late, anyhow.

With elaboration, we can get rid of strum thumb too, but only arthritic autoharp players have worried about this, and not to the point of funding a research institute to study the various options by a cost-benefit analysis.

I'm the old fashioned type who'd baulk at getting rid of the strings, too, so I'm not even going the hint as to how that can be done.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 07:04 PM

*rustle, rustle, thrash....*....That noise you hear is Maybelle Carter turning over in her grave


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: Matt_R
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 07:37 PM

Question is, can you put some distortion & feedback on one of these puppies?


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 11:05 PM

They snarl and bite the hand at the back if you just twist their tail a bit. If they take a chunk of it, it's called backfeed. Is that what your driving at, at or is it old fashioned A'=A/[1 -A*beta)] or better, in reciprocal space, 1/A' = 1/A - beta, a simple vector equation, the two independent vectors being a function of frequency.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: Matt_R
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 11:09 PM

Um...actually I don't know what all those equations meant...I just wanted to know if you could get some good old fashioned Jimi Hendrix electric feedback screeches from the pickups.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: BlueJay
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 04:29 AM

Don Meixner- You are right. Mechanical noise is a big problem in electrifyng the autoharp. I have found that putting felt spacer above the chord bars, thus reducing the bar travel, helps a lot regarding noise, and also makes the harp easier to play whether acoustic or amplified. I've reduced the chord bar travel to maybe 1/4 inch. Before I put the pick-up on, I went for years pushing the bars down 1/2 inch or so, but the mechanical noise was not an issue. Now, I wouldn't play it any other way. Wish I'd discovered this years ago.

Moral: Life does get easier at times. Thanks, BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,Ken
Date: 05 Mar 07 - 08:41 PM

I own an original 1964 Oscar Schmidt electric Autoharp bought brand new from Sears Roebuck by my mother in 1964. The pickup still works though the amplified sound quality is not the best.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,Jimmyfear
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 02:18 PM

I have this same model. its a lancer from the early 80's. they came in sunburst, cherry, white and with or without a built in chorus effect. they work the same as any other electric instrument would, but with so many notes going through heavy effects things get muddy really quick. they are extremely heavy due to the solid body and type of wood used.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,Jimmyfear
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 02:44 PM

PS. no more omnichord slander those things rock! haha.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,Rita
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 01:27 PM

It was interesting to read all the comments about the electric autoharp. They are beautiful instruments. Several music books were printed using trational strumming to Appalachian picking, a tricky maneuver. The result is soothing and beautiful. I truly hope that you got some serious information about the Cutlass. It has two pick-ups. I practiced one summer studiously and became somewhat profieicnt at the latter style. Really, it is a lovey sound and beautiful instrument. Those bashing it are a bit "uppity". They look down on this instrument. It can be as difficult to play well als any other guitar.

Almost any music can be converted to the electric autoharp. It jus takes practice and dedicaiton. The sound is great. Enjoy!

Rita


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 02:16 AM

when i ws young i inherited an ancient piano harp
off my great grandad.
love the chords.
When i was a lot older i often saw a disabled busker at camden market
playing mped up autoharp.. impressive performer.. wonder if he's still out playing..??

About 10 years ago i saw the Handsome Family at a gig in Camden..
Rennie played an ancient dark gothic autoharp
amped and miced up through a big brute vox ac30..

loved it..

since then..

I got 2 electric autoharps with factory fitted magnet bar pickups
and a spare bar pickup to fit in one of my other autoharps..

2 of my favourite old autoharps have gone mildewed
through neglect..
i fele really bad and guilty about that..


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: Judy Dyble
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 02:12 PM

I love my electric autoharp and my acoustic ones. They all have their place in music and each one is a dealy loved thing :-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: Claymore
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 04:32 AM

I've had several electric autoharps over the years but the best one is the one I have now, a completely redone 15 to 21 chord model with a OS long magnet pick-up installed under the strings. I reworked the buttons on the chord bars raising them while lowering the actual chord bars by using hard felt lines running under the 21 cover plate. I run the pick-up into a Zake Wilde Rotovibe pedal which emulates the old Leslie spining speaker and then into an Ernie Ball stereo Pan Pedal. It sounds rather like a Hawaiian Guitar crossed with a Dobro. I use it mostly for backing old torch songs and some Country & Western.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,dsk
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 06:06 AM

I BOUGHT AN ELECTRIC BACK IN 1986 FROM THE FACTORY WAREHOUSE IN BUFFALOGROVE IL.. IT WAS A SOLID BODY, WEIGHED A THOUSAND POUNDS ABDHAD A GREAT SOUND. IT KEPT THE CATS IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD AWAY FOR A LONG TIME. I WISH I STILL HAD IT BUT LIFE GOES ON.


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,Renata
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 07:45 PM

hi, i`m looking for an electric solidbody autoharp , is there any chance you might sell it? send me an email at renatapolli@hotmail.com


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 09 - 09:16 PM

Well... it could be one of several solid body types that Oscar Schmidt made in the 80's ... the Lancer or the Cutlass... they are both extreme instruments... the Cutlass got its name from the shape... a very edgy looking instrument... the Lancer was just as nice... both were made in a really heavy manner so as not to produce feedback when jamming.... i am in the process of buying one of the Lancer style... but would really prefer the Cutlass....they also differ in the fact that the Cutlass had screw on legs as it it quite heavy... but Oscar is still making new versions of electric autoharps.... so if you could please post some pictures of it if you still have it and i call tell you more about what you have...


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: dav_byn
Date: 08 Dec 09 - 09:26 PM

i just signed up to Mudcat... this is the guy that sent the message about the Lancer and Cutlass... so you can contact me from here... or if anyone has one of these let me know !!!


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,Lou
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 03:14 PM


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Subject: RE: Help: Electric Autoharp
From: GUEST,Lancer and Cutlass
Date: 03 May 10 - 09:46 AM

To my knowledge the Cutlass was only released by Oscar Schmidt under the Summit line in the 60's and early 70's, but An updated version of the Lancer was released a bit later. I think the interest in the Summit line mainly comes from the classic looking body styles The Summit Cutlass was an interesting instrument, not only did it have 2 pickups, but it was stereo and had two output jacks, tone and volume knobs. I think they also came with a special two in one chord. The Summit Lancer was developed to suit the needs of John Sebastian of the Lovin Spoonful and I read that he was totally unsatisfied with it. I know Jim Croce also had one and used it somewhat frequently. I don't own either of the Summit versions, but I have this information from 60s- 80's autoharp catalogues and advertisements. I do own 2 80's Lancers though, with and without chorus. I am considering adding a bass pickup and a stereo jack to one of them (rather than having to deal with 2 tangling chords). Magnetic pickup solid body autoharps have a very different sound from acoustic harps. They do have more gain, less feedback and are very durable, but You get way more noise from dead strings and button pushing and they are WAY heavier to strap on. You also have more of a problem with harmonics. These are all things you have to compensate for through playing style and gear.


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Mudcat time: 18 June 9:31 AM EDT

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