Old Autoharp project

Addresses frequent cases of someone having, finding, or buying an old autoharp and wondering about either its value or what would be involved in putting it in good playable order.

Old Autoharp project

Postby jsaxe » Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:44 am

I have the carcase of a 32-string Zimmerman No. 6 that I'd like to restore to usefulness.

The wood is in good condition and all the joints are solid and intact, however, the bars and guides for them are missing (the dog ate them, really!).

What I'd like to do is make it into a diatonic harp with maybe 12 bars in the keys of G, D, C perhaps.

I have the tools, skill and materials to do this, I'm just looking for suggestions or opinions on this project.

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Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:26 pm

Re: Old Autoharp project

Postby Bob Lewis » Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:32 am

30-32 strings is a good number to do a four key, decatonic autoharp. That is a 10 tone scale, no doubled note setup. The four keys of F, C, G, and D will be compatible with available strings. The scale is C, C#, D, E, F, F#, G, A, A#, B (no D# or G#). The bass notes are FGCDEFGAB.

This is the standard note array for the No. 6:

1 F
2 G
3 C
4 D
5 E
6 F
7 G
8 A
9 B
10 C
11 C#
12 D
13 E
14 F
15 F#
16 G
17 A
18 A#
19 B
20 C
21 C#
22 D
23 E
24 F
25 F#
26 G
27 A
28 A#
29 B
30 C
31 C#
32 D

That is already exactly what would work well but would require at least 13-14 bars to employ all the notes and support all the keys. The alternative is to support mostly F and C, using the extra F# and C# notes only for D7 and A7 bars respectively. The single harmonic minor key would then Dm (i-iv-V7 or Dm-Gm-A7).

A custom string set spec is available. Strings 1-6 would fit from standard model A or Zimmerman #73. The remaining wound strings would be out of odd/even sequence and should be custom made to get the right loop end offset length. That would place the loop ends in the correct row of end pins.

Good luck.
Bob Lewis
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Location: South Carolina

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