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  #1  
Old 12-26-2016, 09:14 PM
guitar344 guitar344 is offline
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Default Do autoharps strings break easily

Just got an autoharp for Christmas. How close are autoharp strings to breaking tension?
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Old 12-27-2016, 06:53 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Not that close.
Autoharp string gauges and lengths are selected to produce the notes needed to build complete chords when the individual bars mute the un-needed strings.

The string tension was designed to be purposefully higher than what you would typically find on guitar for a reason; the higher tension contributes to the shimmery top end and doesn't depend on "fresh strings" to maintain that tone.

An autoharp does benefit from fresh strings periodically along its life, but there's not a radical improvement in tone. Many autoharps go their entire life without a string breaking from normal use. Play it and enjoy it.
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Old 12-27-2016, 06:58 AM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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My elementary school music teacher had a autoharp with the same strings on it for years with elementary school kids banging away on it and never popped a string.

Bob
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Old 12-27-2016, 09:26 AM
Mooh Mooh is offline
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My Dad bought an autoharp in 1967, used. I have it now and as far as I know it has never had a string change. Holds its tune and sounds good too.
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Old 12-27-2016, 10:43 AM
H165 H165 is offline
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I replace autoharp strings from time to time for my friends. I find it to be a great application for broken guitar strings or takeoffs.

I don't recall one ever breaking on a harp of mine, but that's because I'm pretty careful when tuning; no sudden sharps. BTW, I used to use a lost-motion tuning wrench with a real long handle, which makes tuning a piece of cake.
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Old 12-27-2016, 03:17 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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One of the reasons autoharp strings remain as stable and long-lasting as they do is that they don't undergo the same sort of stresses that guitar strings have to endure: nobody bends autoharp strings for musical expression, and they don't get pressed against metal frets as they're played. A few experimenting players aside, as a general rule the tuning of each string remains constant, too, instead of being put into other tunings on a regular basis, as can and often does happen with guitar strings.

In this regard they're more like piano strings than guitar strings.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 12-27-2016, 04:42 PM
blue blue is offline
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You really have a thing for breaking strings don't you?

I'm in the same boat as Mooh, except my Mom probably got the autoharp I currently use before 1967. She's was a teacher since the 50's and used it for sing-a-longs in class. No string changes ever.

Now I'm not saying it wouldn'd sound better, whether that means louder, fuller, more sparkly, whatever, with new strings.

I just know that if they were under near failure levels of stress, one of them would probably have given up the ghost in 50 plus years.
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Old 12-27-2016, 07:05 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
...Many autoharps go their entire life without a string breaking from normal use. Play it and enjoy it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Womack View Post
My elementary school music teacher had a autoharp with the same strings on it for years with elementary school kids banging away on it and never popped a string...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooh View Post
My Dad bought an autoharp in 1967, used. I have it now and as far as I know it has never had a string change. Holds its tune and sounds good too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by H165 View Post
...I don't recall one ever breaking on a harp of mine...
Quote:
Originally Posted by blue View Post
...my Mom probably got the autoharp I currently use before 1967. She's was a teacher since the 50's and used it for sing-a-longs in class. No string changes ever...I just know that if they were under near failure levels of stress, one of them would probably have given up the ghost in 50 plus years.
I think the first-hand testimony above is more than sufficient to answer the question to anyone's satisfaction - and I'd take Rudy's wise advice...
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Old 12-29-2016, 09:42 PM
guitar344 guitar344 is offline
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Would anyone happen to know the scale length of each string and the tension?
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Old 12-29-2016, 10:42 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
...Play it and enjoy it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitar344 View Post
Would anyone happen to know the scale length of each string and the tension?
I think the first-hand testimony above is more than sufficient to answer the question to anyone's satisfaction - and I'd take Rudy's wise advice... (repost)
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Old 01-02-2017, 06:17 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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guitar344 is deeply interested in string tension, Steve, and has been for at least as long as I've been aware of his posts. Perhaps it's a fixation, but there's no harm in it, not to any of us, anyway.


whm
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Old 01-02-2017, 06:23 AM
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Old 01-02-2017, 06:53 AM
HHP HHP is offline
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I think its laudable to search for a musical instrument only dogs can hear.
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Old 01-02-2017, 11:11 AM
guitar344 guitar344 is offline
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I can't find the info anywhere. I want to know the scale length and gauge of each string.
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Old 01-02-2017, 03:37 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitar344 View Post
I can't find the info anywhere. I want to know the scale length and gauge of each string.
Well, you might have to resort to measuring the scale length yourself and buying a spare set of autoharp strings and using a micrometer to measure them, if that information hasn't been published anywhere.

But before you do that, there's an autoharp forum here:

http://autoharpworks.com/phpbb/index...e2dd77857e865c

You can ask them.

You can also track down the company contact information for whichever company owns the Oscar Schmidt Autoharp® brand name these days. Between them and the autoharp forum you should be able to get your questions answered.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
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