Up: General Info
Previous: General Info
The most frequent autoharp renewal and customization questions relate to chord
bars, principally the following:
We do not recommend refelting chord bars just because the felts are old.
Usually the felts continue to work well and it is a bit expensive to simply
replace all of them. The main reasons for replacing some or all of the felts
- One or more felt pieces are loose or missing
- If they are just loose,
and in good condition, they can be reglued with any type of contact cement.
- If some of the pieces are missing or in poor condition, sometimes just the
missing pieces can be replaced, but more often the new felt available is not
exactly the same dimension, and it is easier to simply replace all the felts
on the bar. Look at the instructions for refelting a bar, section 3.2
- Some of the felt pieces are not working properly,
- either because they
are simply in poor condition or because of poor previous repairs. In this case
it is best to simply refelt the bar (See section 3.2).
- You want one or more chords
- that are not part of the standard chord
In this case you must also decide which chord(s) to do without, and in
what order you want the resulting chord bars arranged. (In other words, do you
simply want the new chords where the ones you are eliminating were, or will it
make fingering easier if you rearrange the whole set?)
The instructions for refelting a bar are in section 3.2
We have recently arrived at a chord bar order that may better serve
autoharpists who regularly play with guitar--based groups, dropping the
keys of Bb and Eb in
favor of full functionality in the keys of E and
A. At the same time we
have made the fingerings of the standard progressions consistent in every key.
To do this requires refelting five of the bars and rearranging the bar order.
The new bar order is:
We carry or can special order individual replacement chord bars for any chord
currently in production. This is sometimes a good alternative to refelting
your original bar.
We also carry chord bar kits, which are intended for upgrading 12- or
15-bar instruments to 15- or 21-bar configurations. These are also a
good alternative to refelting a large number of the chord bars in a set on account of
poor or damaged felts. Installation is not inherently difficult for a person
who has familiarity with basic tool use and the eye and patience for detail.
We include a set of instructions
with the kit, which can be also be found here in section 3.3. Though the instructions were
written for the 21-bar kit, it should not be difficult to figure out the
necessary adaptations to use it for the 15-bar kit as well.
The String Spacing Issue
There is a known problem using new chord bars on an older autoharp. While
the string spacing has in theory remained unchanged at 1/4"
since the early days of autoharps, in practice the spacing on the newer
autoharps made in Asia is very slightly narrower, adding up to
1/16" or even as much as 3/32" across the entire width
of the strings. Usually the new chord bar kits can be used with older
autoharps without modification if great care is used in the exact
placement of the chord bar holders. Sometimes some of the felts near the
ends of the bars will need to be trimmed a tiny amount in order to allow
the strings to clear them properly. When replacing a single bar in an
existing set, you may have more difficulty with the spacing issue, since
you will be using the existing holders in their existing locations. In
these cases it will likely be easier to simply refelt the bar instead of
replacing it with a new stock one.
If you would like to have chords available to you that are not part of the
standard chord set, then you will have to either replace or refelt some of the
existing bars. Since you cannot simply add more bars to the instrument (other
than going from a 15- to a 21-bar configuration), you will have to figure
out which chords you are going to do without in exchange for your new ones. If
you want to keep your existing bar against the possibility of putting it back
in the instrument at a future date, we carry all of the parts necessary to
make new ones. Otherwise you can simply refelt the bars you are going to
change. The proceedure is much the same in either case and the basic
instructions can be found in section 3.2. Also, give a thought to
what order you want the chords arranged in after you have made your changes.
Up: General Info
Previous: General Info
Arnold M.J. Hennig
Elderly Instruments Repair Dept.