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Chord bar refelting


Replacing Autoharp Chord Bar Felts, Short Instructions

To replace existing felts, first mark the locations of the gaps on the side of the bar, then remove the old felts. The replacement felt comes as a full length strip, and should be applied that way. With a sharp razor blade, make ``V''-cuts where the original square gaps were. Felt will dull a razor blade quickly, so be sure you start with a fresh sharp blade.

If you are making a new chord or repairing an incorrect one, you must first establish where the gaps need to be for the new chord. To do this you need to know which notes are part of the desired chord. If you do not, you should easily be able to find a musician nearby who can help you. Then lay the chord bar in its place without the springs, so that it is laying in it's playing position on the strings, and mark where each string that is part of the new chord passes under the bar. The rest of the job is the same as described above for replacing bad or missing felts.


Replacing Autoharp Chord Bar Felts, Long instructions

From Oscar Schmidt's Customer Service Section, with minor modifications

Generally, when it is necessary to replace a felt on a chord bar, the rest of the felts on that bar should be replaced at the same time. If you follow the simple instructions shown below, you should be able to replace the felt in no time at all. The same procedure can be used for making your own special chord bars.


  1. With the Autoharp lying flat on a table or counter, remove the chord bar on which you want to replace the felts. Place the chord bar at the end of the chord bar holders so that is lined up as if it were in place.
  2. Take a pencil and make a mark on the side of the chord bar (on the metal) exactly where the strings that should sound for that chord are located, as shown below. Make the mark dark enough so you will be able to locate it later.


  3. Peel off the old felts, either by pulling them off with your fingers, or by running a sharp knife between the metal and the felt.
  4. After all the old felt is removed, take a piece of very fine sandpaper, emery paper or steel wool and clean off any residue left by the old adhesive. Be sure you don't clean away your pencil marks! Wipe off with a clean paper towel.
  5. Take one strip of self-sticking Autoharp felt and carefully peel off the paper that covers the adhesive backing. BE CAREFUL -- DON'T PEEL OFF THE ADHESIVE!
  6. Very carefully place the felt, adhesive side down, on the cleaned chord bar, letting an equal amount of felt protrude on both ends. Once you have the felt lined up straight on the chord bar, press it firmly to seat the adhesive. Turn the chord bar over and place the felt side down on a flat surface, such as a table or countertop, and press it down firmly. (This will help squeeze out any air bubbles between the metal and felt.)

  7. Take a very sharp knife, such as a Stanley Razor Knife, an Exacto knife, or a single edge razor blade, and make a cut in the felt exactly 1/8" on either side of the pencil mark. Using the point of the blade, carefully pick out the 1/4" piece of felt you just cut. If the adjoining felt starts to lift up, press it back down and make your cut deeper. You can't hurt the metal part with the blade.


    Note: Many hand makers prefer to use a ``V''-cut instead of the square cuts used by Oscar Schmidt. Start the cut exactly 1/8" on either side of the pencil mark, as above, but bring it at and angle such that the two cuts meet at the edge of the bar right at the pencil mark. This is slightly easier and leaves a little more support for the felt piece damping the adjacent strings. Thus:


  8. Proceed to the next mark and repeat the above procedure. Continue until all the felts that you marked have been cut out.
  9. (A) If you have a 12- or 15-bar or Wildwood Flower Model Autoharp, place the chord bar you have just finished back on top of the chord bar holder and determine how much of the excess felt needs to be cut off to make the bar fit snugly into the holder while still working easily. You may not have to cut any off, but if you do, make the piece longer rather than shorter. (You can always take more off, but it isn't easy putting it back on!)

    (B) On 21-bar Autoharps, cut the felt off at 3/8'' in from each end of the bar.


next up previous contents
Next: Chord Bar Conversion kit Up: How to do... Previous: Removing and Replacing the   Contents

Arnold M.J. Hennig
Elderly Instruments Repair Dept.
April, 2003