how old is my autoharp
The Type A/Type B quesion doesn't apply to Chromaharps, since they were invented about the same time the Type B OS Autoharps came out and haven't been redesigned since. Pinkerton's Assorted Colours used the instrument on their 1966 single "Mirror, mirror". Bowers was also one of the early pioneers in adding a strap to the instrument and playing it while standing up. A vast number of recordings by all members of The Carter Family includes the use of an Autoharp. Eventually, folks realized that the Oscar Schmidt had no right to trademark the name "autoharp." About the History At any rate, you won't be putting your kid through college on any of them. Today, the autoharp enjoys a modest but loyal following and is commonly used as a student instrument, where it is particularly helpful in learning chords. The instrument is not fully chromatic throughout this range, however, as this would require 44 strings. These are arranged for historical or systemic reasons. As is his chart on how he reworks classic 15-button autoharps into G/D diatonic models. (Instruments stored in the basement may also be full of mildew, which is another issue, but that's less common). One fellow who has done many rebuilds and conversions is Bob Lewis of Autoharp Works. More on that later. The following table shows examples of autoharps that will probably meet or exceed your needs when you're starting out. contact us. Sometime in the 1920's, most of the manufacturers of autoharps became part of Oscar Schmidt, which is part of the U.S. Music Corporation (History 19). The value of a vintage instrument can vary tremendously, depending on the year it was made, its condition, the quality and originality of its hardware, even its story and previous owners. Several models were made, including one that had five pushbuttons for five chords, and one that had added five "sliders" to produce even more chords on the same chassis. Accessories | Best Sellers In addition, you'll occasionally see instruments shaped like autoharps without chord bars described as autoharps in product listings. Buyer's Guide for Autoharps - From Riverboat Music(tm). If you really strive to make progress in this instrument, you'll soon learn that - far from being a "dummies' instrument," these guys take their autoharps very seriously. If there are signs of mold, though, steer clear. All materials, illustrations, and content on this web page are copyrighted (c) 2016 by Paul D. Race. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Leeds and A-levels in music, theater studies and English literature. $69. Introduction to Chords Type A (pre-1968) Oscar Schmidt autoharps in various condition, OS-15, Oscar Schmidt's baseline 15-chorder. It's noted that there were no new modifications to the design, but that the tail cover decals are renowned as some of the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing (History 17). Update for 2018 - After I first published this page, I started getting reader questions I didn't know the answers to. Recently they were being manufactured by Samick, a company that makes many other instruments for other companies to put their name on. Note about Suppliers: While we try to help you get the instruments and other products you want by recommending suppliers with a good record of customer service, all transactions between you and the supplier you chose are governed by the published policies on the supplier's web site. But there are also many, many instruments that would cost almost as much to restore to playability as it would cost to buy a new instrument. Here is my current list of autoharp articles: I also picked up four very different autoharps I didn't really need because I wanted to do the projects I was reporting on myself. 15- or 21-Chord Autoharps? Folk Songs For questions, comments, suggestions, trouble reports, etc. In the 1960s, a competing company started making similar instruments called "Chromaharps" that solved both of those problems. She also regularly performs on the autoharp as part of her role in Ghost Quartet, a four-person song cycle composed by Dave Malloy. The additional chords let you play in Bb as well, and they provide some chords that allow you to play more songs in C and G. Autoharp players who wanted to play in more keys eventually got 21-button instruments, which allowed them to play in Bb and Eb as well. We start with the 21-chord model, since having the 15 doesn't seem to save you that much money, compared to the reduced flexibility, which is the main reason to have a chromatic autoharp in the first place. It's easy to go there and just search for "autoharp." When you press one of the autoharp's chord keys and give it a strum, any string not belonging to the chord you've pressed is silenced, so the sound of the chord is played "automatically." And that, in turn, helps us provide more useful resources. If a "buy it now" item sold quickly, they may have either asked too little or found the one buyer interested in such a thing. Oscar Schmidt has many upgraded 21-chord versions now, and several of those are preferable to the Chromaharp 21-chord version. For more information on the difference between Type A and Type B Autoharps, please click here. Once you've determined what kind of autoharp you have, and examined its condition, start looking for similar items on places like Craigs' List and eBay. It features a series of chord bars attached to dampers, which, when pressed, mute all of the strings other than those that form the desired chord. Autoharp Buyers' Guide on Riverboat Music For the next sixty years, Oscar Schmidt's company built instruments that were essentially the same as the autoharp on the right above, although they eventually added three more chords and reshaped the chord buttons. If the felts have lost their firmness or otherwise deteriorated, you can replace the felt fairly cheaply, but it is a very time-consuming process. Sign Up for Our Discussion Forums Reaching around the edge of the instrument to push the buttons with your left hand could be painful to the wrist. I'm always polite, and sometimes I can even help them get things straightened out with the vendor, but it's not, technically, my problem. The George Foss book shown at the right purports to tell you how, as do a number of Internet resources. The two smaller Autoharps in the photo to the right were designed by C.F. They skootched the chord bars down to provide more room to strum above them, and they made the shape of the thing more ergonomic for playing upright. However, they included some improvements that made them easier to play in the modern upright position (see below), and the Oscar Schmidt company redesigned their autoharps to stay competive. Sign Up for Our Momma Don't 'Low Newsletter. Also, don't be discouraged if an autoharp like yours goes on the market with a $20 bid or get overly excited if one gets listed with a $400 bid. It's those long bars with the felt under them that makes autoharps, er, autoharps. It’s possible to get 21-bar conversion kits for about $150 from many of the repair and supply people listed below, and some custom luthiers make and install better quality chord bar sets for a bit more. However, because of sheer numbers, Oscar Schmidt's design became the standard against which later autoharp designs were measured. all of the items in your cart may not ship to the Although the word autoharp was once a trademark of the Oscar Schmidt company, the term has colloquially come to be used for any hand-held, chorded zither, regardless of manufacturer.[2][3]. Guitars An 15-chord autoharp that has more than a few of those issues may only be of interest to someone looking for an instrument to rebuild or convert to diatonic. Most people who buy these, buy them as novelties or decorations, not as musical instruments or collectors' items. Mattel also plays the autoharp as part of her regular drag performances.[17]. Hammered Dulcimer Buyers' Guide on Riverboat Music | 21 Chord | Electric | In 1968, the electric autoharp was invented by Roger Penney. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the problem is really because the customer didn't read the whole ad, or ordered the wrong thing, or threw away his paperwork and doesn't know where he bought it from, etc. If you can change the strings and replace the felts yourself, you can probably get by with $80- $100 worth of supplies. In the meantime, I hope these articles help answer your questions about these under-rated instruments. All rights reserved. Dolge's autoharp business shut down in 1900, but the Phonoharp Company restarted the line in 1910, "cherry-picking" Zimmerman's most popular designs. Originally created for accompaniment, the autoharp is still often thought of as a rhythm instrument, but it's also a rewarding melody instrument to a musician who takes on the challenge of mastering it. Visit Our Discussion Forums In this position the left hand still works the chord buttons, but from the opposite edge of the instrument, and the right hand still executes the strums, but now plays in the area above the chord bars. How to Give Guitar Lessons (Humor) The instrument known today as the autoharp (auto harp, or chromaharp ) is actually a zither stringed instrument for which the strings do not extend beyond the sounding box (Zither 1). Checking the serial number against Oscar Schmidt’s database to establish the model, series and year of construction is a good start. These bars are mounted on springs, and pressed down with one hand, via buttons mounted to their topside. Still, Oscar Schmidt autoharps are recognized worldwide as some of the most well-made and attractive autoharps around. What is a Bluegrass Banjo? My typical "Take someone along who knows what they're looking at" advice if you go to shop for a used one one is especially true in this case. The range is determined by the number of strings and their tuning. "Zither." He also played in the 1979 Randy VanWarmer hit song "Just When I Needed You Most". Janis Joplin occasionally played the autoharp, which can be heard in her early, unreleased recording "So Sad to Be Alone". SKU: ACOS-73DXGIG.

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