Autoharp Tuning

How do you tune it?

Fortunately, tuning is easy.  Each string is directly above a "written" note name.  The layout is similar to a keyboard.. UNTIL you get to the bass strings.  The bass notes are spread out sparingly to say the least.  Their main function is to pick up "general" low notes.  This causes the low end to START on the Root note (one) at times.. but ALSO the 3rd (or minor 3rd) OR.. Major 5th tones.

Probably the easiest way to tune it with the help of an electronic tuner, but you can use a pitch pipe. If you have a good ear for intervals, you can pretty closely tune a single-key instrument by just having the pitch for "C".

There are tuning pins on the autoharp, so if you didn't get a key with your instrument, you can use an autoharp tuning wrench. Those wrenches are actually nicer than the original cast-iron key - they give you better leverage.

It's best to be tightening a string up to the correct pitch, rather than loosening it to pitch. Sometimes, though, you'll get a string that will not smoothly change pitch in one direction. It "droops" a bit each time you let go of the wrench. For these, you're almost forced to tune it a little sharp with the wrench, then let it droop back to the right pitch. It can be a rather hit & miss affair.

When tuning the instrument, it's unwise to raise a string's pitch very much. Most of that last retuning involved lowering strings, and the ones that were raised only went up a half step. Raising the pitch not only moves you closer to the string's breaking point, it increases the tension on that old wood and that old glue joint under the end block. On the other hand, lowering a string too much starts to degrade the sound that it makes.

These are digital autoharps below:

These guys don't need tuned.


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