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Some Autoharp Questions

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Wesley S 19 Nov 04 - 11:39 AM
wysiwyg 19 Nov 04 - 11:50 AM
John MacKenzie 19 Nov 04 - 11:51 AM
Wesley S 19 Nov 04 - 12:11 PM
wysiwyg 19 Nov 04 - 01:02 PM
wysiwyg 19 Nov 04 - 01:55 PM
Wesley S 19 Nov 04 - 04:14 PM
wysiwyg 19 Nov 04 - 04:59 PM
GUEST,Bev 22 Apr 09 - 11:23 PM
NormanD 23 Apr 09 - 05:24 AM
Dan Schatz 23 Apr 09 - 11:11 AM
NormanD 23 Apr 09 - 11:22 AM
Sooz 23 Apr 09 - 11:45 AM
Sooz 23 Apr 09 - 11:47 AM
Dan Schatz 23 Apr 09 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Linda 28 Jan 11 - 09:45 PM
GUEST,Linda 28 Jan 11 - 09:51 PM
The Fooles Troupe 29 Jan 11 - 03:53 AM
PHJim 29 Jan 11 - 04:01 AM
The Fooles Troupe 29 Jan 11 - 04:07 AM
autoharpbob 29 Jan 11 - 08:53 AM
Bill D 29 Jan 11 - 10:22 AM
BanjoRay 29 Jan 11 - 11:38 AM
autoharpbob 29 Jan 11 - 02:02 PM
BanjoRay 30 Jan 11 - 12:49 PM
PHJim 30 Jan 11 - 04:15 PM
NormanD 30 Jan 11 - 06:16 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 Jan 11 - 06:56 PM
Dellboy 02 Jun 11 - 05:24 PM
Bill D 02 Jun 11 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Denis McKay 27 Jul 11 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Joy 22 Aug 11 - 04:19 PM
GUEST,autoharp cases 24 Aug 11 - 07:33 PM
GUEST,AppalachianAutoharp 21 Apr 14 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,Denis McKay 08 Oct 14 - 08:07 AM
PHJim 08 Oct 14 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Wexwood 23 Dec 14 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,hg 23 Dec 14 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Alison 22 Jul 17 - 12:11 PM
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Subject: Some Autoharp Questions
From: Wesley S
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 11:39 AM

I've considered getting an autoharp recently. I'm curious about a few things. They seem to come in 15 and 21 bar models. Since there is very little price difference between the two I was wondering why some people would pick a 15 bar style. Am I wrong to think that more is better ? Are there any problems associated with a 21 bar autoharp ? How often do you have to retune the darn things ? Is it a nightmare ?

In a group situation how do you blend the autoharp with other instruments ? In my group we have a guitar player and another member { who's played autoharp before } plays banjo and guitar. I play the mandolin. So I can see the banjo player and I trading off on the autoharp depending on the requirements of the song. What are your thoughts ? I bought an octave mandolin once thinking that it would blend well with the group and it just gets lost in the mix. I don't want to repeat that mistake. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 11:50 AM

The 15 & 21 tune the same. The 15 has a bigger strumming/picking surface since it's not covered by the additional bars. The 15 also has sturdier bars and bar glides-- little combs that the chord bars slide up and down on. The 15's glides are metal but the 21's are lightweight plastic that can break off easily at the base (especially if your angle of push is such that it's not totally perpendicular to the harp).

The bigger buttons on the 21 sure are comfier, though.

What many end up doing is having one harp in a certain setup to play in their most-used keys, and other harps for other sets of keys. Some folks like to retune strings and remake the felting on the chord bars so that they can double up on the strings-- set one up to play in only F & C for instance, and retune the C# string to make a second C, etc. (Called a diatonic harp as opposed to how it would normally come, which is chromatic.) I understand this not only improves volume but if you are going to melody-pick, it gives you a better chance of hitting the right string and fewer wrong strings to hit.

There are some great links in older authharp threads where you can learn ALL about the vast variety of things people are doing.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 11:51 AM

Bars are bars the more the better as far as flexibility is concerned, one thing though is sure, you'll either have to amplify it or stand close to the mike with that line up.
Giok


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: Wesley S
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 12:11 PM

I've seen many autoharpists hold the instrument up on their chests close to their faces while standing. Doesn't the vocal mic pick up the sound from there ?


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 01:02 PM

Bars are NOT bars. They aren't sized the same, nor made of the same material, nor standardized as to width for felt; nor is the felt standardized in width. Even the Oscar Schmidts aren't sized now exactly like they used to be.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 01:55 PM

As to amplification, a mic and an electric pickup give a totally different sound. Not saying which one is better-- I use pickup but then I songlead with mine, sometimes solo, in large spaces. The pickup sure is costly tho. It slides under the chord bars-- a long magnetic strip. Mine is amped through an acoustic Crate BTW, nice warm, full tone. If you want a pickup, look for a cheap Ebay harp with pickup, and scavenge parts.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: Wesley S
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 04:14 PM

Susan - I have a Crate too - what model is yours ?


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 04:59 PM

The brown wide one with vocal and instrument jacks, but not the one that looks just like it that's digital with lots of effects-- mine is analog with knobs, and sounds much better.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: GUEST,Bev
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 11:23 PM

Help,I finally decided to try to play an autoharp. I had always wanted to play mountain music on some stringed instrument. I have a Sekova 15 cord that I got on ebay. I just ordered a couple of missing strings, some picks, and how to play book. Any other ideas to help me learn easily. Thanks


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: NormanD
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 05:24 AM

I'm in the same position as you, Bev. I have (finally) got hold of a 15-bar O. Schmidt model.

The first thing I had to buy was a chromatic tuner (the clip on ones are not wide enough to clamp on!).

The second thing I've had to do (and am continuing to do) is to work out which keys some of the chords would fit in with. There's no Bm, but a Gm; how can I use Eb and Bb?, etc etc.

Next thing up is buying a gig bag and a strap. Any suggestions on where to but them in the UK, please?


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 11:11 AM

Hi Norman. Standard autoharp stringing makes the instrument ideal in C and F, good in G, and mostly playable in D and Bb. Hence the lack of a Bm chord. One reason I had Keith Young 3 key diatonic built was so I could play fiddle tunes in D and A.

Although there is some variation, most autoharps are set up in a circle of fifths, left to right. Let's say you're playing in F. The chord to your right is the fifth chord in that key - a C. The chord to the right of that (G) is the fifth chord for the key of C. And so on. So you always have the keys needed for a simple song in any given key close together. For playing in F, your chords are F (fundamental) Bb (fourth) and C (fifth). You'll also have a relative minor of Dm. In Bb, you'll have a similar arrangement - Bb (fundamental), Eb (fourth) and F (fifth), with a relative minor of Gm. By using the Eb when playing in F, you can play more modal tunes. Sticking with F, the Gm and Am are also very useful chords for creating more interesting arrangements.

For tuning with a tuner, I recommend finding an alligator clip - I like the ones by Crate - that you can clip on to a tuning peg and pick up the vibration of the strings. You plug that right into the tuner. I find that as long as it's touching anything metal somewhere on the instrument, it will pick up fairly well. (Though I confess I use a magnetic pickup for tuning on my old 'harp and upgraded to transducer pads on the diatonic - so I use the clips for guitars mostly.)

I've never been to the UK (though I'm always open to invitations), so I can't help you on supplies.

Good luck, and enjoy your 'harp. Keep it tuned, don't be afraid to get creative, and you'll be amazed at what it can do.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: NormanD
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 11:22 AM

Thanks, Dan, that makes a lot of sense. I figured that I've got at least 3 key sequences to get stuck in on - C, F, G, which is quite a lot of songs. Just by playing around with the adjacent buttons you can get some harmonically sympathetic sounds going, and picking individual strings gives even further variation.

I've seen it mainly used as a strumming instrument to accompany singing. Do you know of any YouTube links that show it being played more melodically (ie picking out tunes)?

The old clips of The Lovin Spoonful are fun to watch, with Sebastian strumming away.

Norman


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: Sooz
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 11:45 AM

I saw Bob Ebdon playing autoharps last weekend (UK). He played tunes beautifully. Not sure if he is on YouTube.


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: Sooz
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 11:47 AM

http://www.myspace.com/bobebdon


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 01:59 PM

You can find some YouTube videos of Bryan Bowers, including his instructional song, "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Dan


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: GUEST,Linda
Date: 28 Jan 11 - 09:45 PM

Hi, I am a new newbie. Just got my AH and am trying to figure out how to tune it. But that's not my question. My question is, is there any reason NOT to reconfigure the chords so that they're in the same order as piano keys (which I know); i.e. c-d-e-f-g-a-b ?

And how, exactly, do you change the buttons on the AH? Do you just retune the strings to the buttons that you want to play them?

I have an Oscar Schmidt OS45CE Electric Autoharp 21 Chord (and please, please don't tell me I got the wrong one!).

Thanks,
Linda


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: GUEST,Linda
Date: 28 Jan 11 - 09:51 PM

Hi, I am a new newbie. Just got my AH and am trying to figure out how to tune it. But that's not my question. My question is, is there any reason NOT to reconfigure the chords so that they're in the same order as piano keys (which I know); i.e. c-d-e-f-g-a-b ?

And how, exactly, do you change the buttons on the AH? Do you just retune the strings to the buttons that you want to play them?

I have an Oscar Schmidt OS45CE Electric Autoharp 21 Chord (and please, please don't tell me I got the wrong one!).

Thanks,
Linda


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 03:53 AM

"is there any reason NOT to reconfigure the chords"

Absolutely! Look at the bass side of a Piano Accordion - you will find that the buttons there are not arranged as you ask either. The way called the 'Stradella Bass' system. The Autoharp is arranged in a similar way.

The whole concept is that your middle finger sits on the I chord of the scale. Then the other two fingers then sit on the IV and V chords of the scale. Many simple songs such as many folk songs use the I IV V chord progressions, and having these buttons grouped so closely together just makes life easy, musicians being just as lazy as anyone else.

So you see that there is much very strong music theory as to why they are arranged as you see them.


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: PHJim
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 04:01 AM

As W y s i w y G ! mentioned, I set my 'harps up as semi-diatonics. I have a G/D, my favourite, an E/A and a true diatonic in C. These have fewer bars and so have more access to the high strings. If you want to play songs with more complicated chord progressions, like Sweet Georgia Brown or Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I`d suggest getting a 21 or at least a 15 bar `harp, but if you want to play fiddle tunes with 3 to 5 chords and don`t mind doing a bit of rebuilding, I`d go for the fuller, richer sound of the diatonic (one key) or semi-diatonic (2 or 3 keys).


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 04:07 AM

Actually Linda all that I mentioned was explained in fuller explicit detail in the post by Dan Schatz - of Date: 23 Apr 09 - 11:11 AM above.


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: autoharpbob
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 08:53 AM

Linda, please don't do what you suggest - it will be unplayable! You need some help - either someone near you who plays autoharp, or some decent books - try Meg Petersons first - Click here


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 10:22 AM

Now, there 'can' be ways to make changes, as long as basic patterns are kept.
I had a 21 bar Schmidt which just seemed awkward, and had no Dmaj chord, so I re-cut an unused minor bar (Bb, I think) to a D chord, and then I reversed the entire setup to bring the chords I use most to the center of the strings. Now my 'harp is a mirror image of the factory arrangement, but the pattern of 3s is still retained.


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: BanjoRay
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 11:38 AM

I would advise anyone who really wants to learn to play the autoharp in the American way (and who can afford it) to go to Sore Fingers Summer School. This year it's the week before Easter week, at Kingham School near Stow on the Wold, and includes 5 days of instruction from a world class teacher. This year's autoharp tutor is Lucille Reilly.

Some quotes:
I still can be moved to tears! Your playing is so full of love and warmth that I am deeply touched. —Bryan Bowers, master autoharpist and Autoharp Hall of Fame member

Lucille Reilly has the sweetest tone of anybody. —Julia Hayward, MI

I first went to Sore Fingers in 2001 to study Old Time banjo, and I've been back every year since, studying Old Time Fiddle. The week is magical - great instruction, great sessions, excellent concerts from tutors and students, superb atmosphere.

Go for it! You won't be sorry....
Ray


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: autoharpbob
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 02:02 PM

Can certainly second that recommendation of SF! Not sure if Linda is UK or US based though. If UK Based, then speaking as the Advance Organiser for the UK Autoharp Association (shameless plug), she, or any UK based potential autoharper, should get in touch with us - http://www.ukautoharps.org.uk .Not sure also what you mean by "the American way" Ray? Are there national differences in the way that the autoharp is played? I think there are personal differences depending on who is playing, but can't think that there is a "british" style per se.


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: BanjoRay
Date: 30 Jan 11 - 12:49 PM

I meant playing the Autoharp from a bluegrass/ Old Time point of view, with the tunes of those genres in mind.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: PHJim
Date: 30 Jan 11 - 04:15 PM

After reading Banjoray's post, I went to Lucille Reilly's site and found a really good explanation of the differences between chromatic and diatonic 'harps. Find it here: Chromatic vs Diatonic


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: NormanD
Date: 30 Jan 11 - 06:16 PM

Could anyone tell me where to buy an autoharp case? The one sold by Hobgoblin is slightly too small for the Oscar Schmidt model I have.

Any advice on DIY options would also be much appreciated.

Thanks


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Jan 11 - 06:56 PM

The autoharp and the Stradella Bass Piano Accordion are closely related in technique, due to the same music theory underlying them. If you play one, you can rapidly transfer to the other, due to the similarities.


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: Dellboy
Date: 02 Jun 11 - 05:24 PM

Can anybody out there tell me what the standard chords are on an Oscar Schmidt 21 bar autoharp? Thinking of buying one, but wondering whether I'd have to deviate from the standard arrangement for the keys I like to play in.


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Jun 11 - 06:21 PM

see other thread - usual keys are A,C,D,F, G & Bb,,,I used up one odd minor to make an E major You 'can' buy extra bars and cut and arrange them to suit.


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: GUEST,Denis McKay
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 06:49 AM

Just catching up with the thread.

i play both Chromatic and Diatonic Autoharps.

Changing chord-bars is relatively easy. Just a matter of deciding what you want, putting on new felt (comes as a self-adhesive strip) and cutting the notes out that you want for that Chord.

There is a discussion form called cyberpluckers who welcome newbies and offer good advice - most of the well-known US players and teachers frequesnt this list.


Denis


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: GUEST,Joy
Date: 22 Aug 11 - 04:19 PM

I was cleaning out my grandparents garage and found this musical instrument that I think is an autoharp or zither? It has room for 15 strings but is missing 4 of them. The markings I found say "Phonoharp" Pat Aug 4 1891. I also found 6 old music sheets that have directions ond say "Extra Sheets 5 cts" The songs are
1. Old Oaken Bucket
2. Nearer My God to Thee
3. Coming Thro' the Rye
4. Bring Back My Bonnie To Me
5. Auld Lang Syne
6. Home Sweet Home

I don't recall my grandparents or parents ever playing this instrument. It may be something my dad picked up antique shopping. I would like to get this to someone who would use and appreciate it for a fair price. I do not know where to start. Any help would be appreciated.

im4joy4joy@hotmail.com


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: GUEST,autoharp cases
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 07:33 PM

Chuck Daniels sold me my soft cases.......for about $70. They are generously cut, very well padded, have handle sling strap And backpack straps, and generous pouch on front for picks etc. Just google Chuck for autoharp needs. He does repairs as well and is a quick turnaround time with that!


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Subject: Strap For Autoharp
From: GUEST,AppalachianAutoharp
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 10:50 AM

I'm looking for a good strap for my custom Autoharp. Does anyone have any suggestions?


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: GUEST,Denis McKay
Date: 08 Oct 14 - 08:07 AM

It seems that you didn't get a reply to you question about straps for the Autoharp. I use and recommend the slider strap (a brand of crossover strap).


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: PHJim
Date: 08 Oct 14 - 01:48 PM

I don't use straps on my 'harps, but a regular guitar strap will work. Most B style 'harps come with buttons and they are easily installed on A style harps if you don't have them.


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Subject: Replacing Felts
From: GUEST,Wexwood
Date: 23 Dec 14 - 06:52 PM

Many felts are missing. How do I know where to place the felts for each cord.


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: GUEST,hg
Date: 23 Dec 14 - 07:38 PM

Hi Wexford
The strings of the notes in each chord should be left open. Thus the strings of the notes not in the chord should be dampened by felts. A chord chart will help, I'm sure.
love, hrpgirl


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Subject: RE: Some Autoharp Questions
From: GUEST,Alison
Date: 22 Jul 17 - 12:11 PM

Help. I bought a second hand autoharp with 32 strings and accidentally got a 36 string set. Can I use these instead


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