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Help: Getting used to my autoharp

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GUEST,bbc at work 22 Apr 02 - 11:56 AM
wysiwyg 22 Apr 02 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,jonesey 22 Apr 02 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 22 Apr 02 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,jonesey 22 Apr 02 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 22 Apr 02 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 22 Apr 02 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 22 Apr 02 - 01:26 PM
wysiwyg 22 Apr 02 - 02:27 PM
Bill D 22 Apr 02 - 02:33 PM
catspaw49 22 Apr 02 - 03:11 PM
bbc 22 Apr 02 - 08:26 PM
catspaw49 22 Apr 02 - 08:28 PM
bbc 22 Apr 02 - 08:50 PM
53 22 Apr 02 - 10:04 PM
Dan Schatz 22 Apr 02 - 10:14 PM
GutBucketeer 22 Apr 02 - 10:25 PM
GUEST,dvoraswickle 20 Feb 11 - 06:11 PM
The Fooles Troupe 20 Feb 11 - 06:55 PM
autoharpbob 21 Feb 11 - 09:50 AM
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Subject: Getting used to my autoharp
From: GUEST,bbc at work
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 11:56 AM

Hi, all,

After letting it sit in the box since December (from a combination of tennis elbow & intimidation), I finally started playing my new, top-of-the-line, gorgeous Oscar Schmidt autoharp! Duane D. & I played at church Sunday am & the autoharp did just fine! My problem is getting accustomed to holding it, fingering, strumming, picks,etc. I had learned on a small, lap model. This beauty feels big, heavy, & awkward to me! I get a pressure ridge on my left arm from holding it. It seems that my fingering hand gets in the way of my strumming hand. I had to change clothes 3 times (once in church!), because the instrument kept slipping on my clothes. Sounds pitiful, doesn't it? Any helpful suggestions or do I just need more time & practice? Also, I managed a 3-chord song without looking at my fingers. How do you do songs w/ more chords? That is, how do you figure out, without looking, where the other chords are? This is my 1st instrument since I bombed piano lessons as a child.

thanks,

bbc


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: wysiwyg
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 12:04 PM

Try flipping it over and playing it on a tilted tabletop. IMO it can't be beat, played that way, and you get to see the chord buttons, skip sore arms and wrists, and pull more volume out of it. No arm crossing either, it's all straightforward.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: GUEST,jonesey
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 12:36 PM

Hi bbc at work, Just started playing autoharp myself after years on the guitar, mando, banjo and bass. What I did was mount Schaller straplocks and the widest strap I could find. As I play professionally it had to be able to be played standing up. I've an old 21 button O.S. and wish I'd started years ago. Putting straps on it alleviated having to 'hold' the instrument and I could use the 'cross arm' style ala Bryan Bowers. The trick is to get the autoharp in the proper position in reference to your arm length. The only problem I have is that I mounted the left side in slightly the wrong place as the strap lock pokes into my forearm, but it's a small price when I think of the comfort the wide guitar strap affords. I can't see the chord bars real well while playing, but with more and more practice the touch is beginning to come. Still hit that odd 'clunker' now and then, though. lol My next venture is going to be to eliminate all those chords I'll never use(Ab, Bb, Eb, etc.)and replace them with functional relative minors and diminished chords!! Wish me luck! Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 12:36 PM

Bryan Bowers, the only living member of the Autoharp Hall of Fame, and a true Master of the instrument, uses an autoharp strap, readily available ot Elderly instruments and other places, to take the pressure off of the arm and back, etc. and in general make it easier to play, though he would never give up holding it, he likes the sound next to his heart. One just gets used to the position of the chord bars played with the left hand and gets used to strumming with the right. He has a great teaching video, worth having if you are serious about it. Or just keep trying as long as you are having fun, though I've found the less the difficulties adjusting to a method, the more fun one can have using it.


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: GUEST,jonesey
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 12:46 PM

Hey Bill, Great idea about the video. Would you mind posting the web address for its availability? Thanks alot!


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 01:18 PM

well, I know you can get it from Bryan at any of his appearances, and probably directly from him as well, but easier & least expensive might be Elderly Instruments,

http://www.elderly.com/cgi-bin/elderly/search.pl#930

it's a Homespun Video product, you can order it from them at

Homespun Tapes. 1-800-338-2737.

Elderly retails it for 33.95, other places probably 39.95, Bryan asks $40 I think, but he'll sign it if you like. He also does workshops, did one hereabouts this past February, check his info for his tour dates.

http://bryanbowers.com/

see the Autoharp Page

http://www.autoharp.org/

and check out the Autoharp Quarterly

http://www.fmp.com/aq/


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 01:22 PM

forgot this link for Homespun

http://www.homespuntapes.com/artists/artistpage.asp?artID=365


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 01:26 PM

I still maintain that the Autoharp as we know it today is really a left handed instrument. Lefties, turn it over and try it upside down! More room to play, no crossing over.

bbc, Ivan Stiles, an Autoharpist of some note uses a harness to hold his harps up. Less strain everywhere. Look in the AutoHarp Quarterly.

Try to hold it so as to eliminate a cramped wrist. CTS will wreck your day.

Good luck.

Don


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: wysiwyg
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 02:27 PM

Don, harness for upside down???

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 02:33 PM

BBC, you did not say what model/type you have 21 bar? it can make a difference to the typr of advice you get....and do note...the playing style Byran Bowers uses is spectacular and amazing--once mastered, but it it is NOT for everyone, and is NOT the only way to make nice music!

There are much simpler ways to strum, even with it held up to the body. I use 'mostly' one thumb pick and one finger pick (on my middle finger) and use a pick that does not catch, so I can strum both ways..(much like Kilby Snow used to do), I do add picks on 2 more fingers for certain things. I made brass picks that fit my fingers and bend OVER the fingertips, and also bought Mizrabs (Sitar picks) that look like a wire frame and have no hooks to catch on the strings.

As to learning chord positions, it simply takes time to get your brain and muscles used to them...play the heck out of what you DO know, and add songs with and extra chord gradually..


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 03:11 PM

Hi Barb!!! How are you anyway??? Glad to hear about the new 'harp and like Bill, I'd like more info!

A couple of suggestions on the cross arm style. I'm a reasonably big guy but I don't like holding the thing either so don't think it's just you. You can use both hands more effectively if the harp is supported in a comfortable playing position and this can involve a bit of help from someone else in placing strap buttons. Trying to get the best balance and position for you is the thing. I also use a 3" strap to distibute the weight better. The lower pin is on the very bottom of the harp about two inches in from the side and the upper is just down a bit from where the angle starts. I found that for me, these two locations and a properly adjusted 3" strap allowed the autoharp to hang in a natural position that required no hand/arm pressure from me! You mileage may vary......it gets a bit "selective" and where you want it is a bit up to you too. I like the thing a bit higher up than some.

Or.....as Don suggested, there are several stles of harness/strap available and they can again really unload the weight from you. Remember though that no matter which route you go, you need to be sure the autoharp hangs pretty much by itself in a playing position. Here is one form of the harness/strap.........Click Here and you can adjust it several ways and allow the weight distribution over your back.

Tell us more about your new one!!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: bbc
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 08:26 PM

Hi, folks,

Thanks for your input. Here's what I have (sure hope I remembered how to do links!):

Oscar Schmidt 21 Chord Adirondack autoharp with fine tuning system

Duane had mentioned that I might try a strap. It's such a pretty instrument, I kind of hate to even put holes in it, though. It's good to hear from old & new friends. I don't often have a chance to start a music thread.

best,

bbc


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 08:28 PM

Well Barb, ya' done good! Not to worry about the strap buttons though....Very small holes and it will make a huge difference in your enjoyment of the instrument!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: bbc
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 08:50 PM

Pat, I was working on good advice from Mama Paton. It has a beautiful sound. Now, all I have to do is live up to having such a nice instrument! Duane likes having someone to play with. ;)

bbc


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: 53
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 10:04 PM

Spaw, how long have you been playing the auto-harp? I had 1 when I was about 15 but never did much with it. Now I would rather spend my time on the guitar. Bob


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 10:14 PM

Strap buttons would definitely be the way to go, from my point of view. That or sitting down. I have a custom Keith Young walnut and spruce 'harp that is as beautiful and autoharp as you'll find, and it's got brass strap buttons which enhance rather than detract from the beauty of the instrument. I'm having Keith build me a new 'harp - all koa - which should be spectacular in every way, and again I'm having strap buttons put in. They should be standard for all professional players.

The buttons will have no effect whatsoever on the sound because they'll be attached to the frame. Autoharps have a massive amount of string pressure (aproximately 2000 lbs!) and therefore need to be built around an especially thick frame. Put your buttons at the top of the harmonic curve (above the chord bars) and below the chord bars by the low F string, at the corner of the instrument, and you should be well balanced and good to go!

Good luck!

Dan


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 22 Apr 02 - 10:25 PM

One of the easiest ways to improve your future playing in most keys is to re-arrange the chord bars on a 21 chord harp so the same relative position of the 1,IV,V, and relative minor is preserved. There are several ways to do it described at the autoharp.org website. I put the majors in the middle, the 7ths in one row and the minors in another row. It's best to make the change before you get accustomed to the factory arrangement which is not as consistent.

JAB


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: GUEST,dvoraswickle
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 06:11 PM

I want to know how to place my hands on the autoharp.


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 06:55 PM

It depends on which style of playing you want.

There are a lot of other relevant threads on this here, just read some of the linked threads at the top of this page, and you will learn much, rather than need us repeating all of it again.


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Subject: RE: Help: Getting used to my autoharp
From: autoharpbob
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 09:50 AM

Try YouTube - you will be able to see loads of people holding their harps in loads of different ways.


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