Solid-body mini Autoharp?

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Solid-body mini Autoharp?

Postby MatthewVanitas » Mon Jun 04, 2007 12:49 am

I could have sworn I saw this product at a shop once, but can't find it online now.

It was a tiny autoharp with maybe 5 to 7 keys, solid body (one piece of hardwood). It was a cute little critter, and I have a thing for travel instruments.

Does anyone recall who made these? Links?

Thanks much.
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Postby Gordon Brown » Mon Jun 04, 2007 2:27 am

Oscar Schmidt Easy Chord or childs autoharp. 6 keys but they aren't solid body they are hollow. I have one that my kids play with.
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Postby DaveB » Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:51 pm

Gordon Baker of Glad Morning Autoharps makes a very nice child's harp that is a bit more of a real intrument than the Easychord. He'll even sell you a case for it!

You can find him at http://home.fuse.net/glbaker/
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Re: Solid-body mini Autoharp?

Postby MatthewVanitas » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:42 pm

Resurrecting a four year old thread here. As mentioned, I'd seen one of these once at Lark in The Morning in Seattle in maybe 1998 or so, and that's it.

Recently, I'd been helping out some friends who wanted to get into music, and had suggested the autoharp at one point. I went to glance on eBay to see how the used market was, saw a "mini Oscar Schmidt autoharp", and thought I might as well grab one if I can, since I have a weakness for cute instruments. I got a nice maple one for $87 shipped, which doesn't sound bad.

Current plan is to play it for just a little bit to get a feel for it, and then gift it to my buddy's three-year old son. The buddy is a really serious guitarist, and I figure a mini autoharp might actually be within the coordination skills of a toddler, at least in terms of holding down a button and (clumsily) strumming. I figure he can at least play a C chord along with his da, and it'll be interesting to see how old a kid needs to start being able to sense chord changes.

I'll try and post a video clip of me toying with in when it comes in. Thanks again for setting me right on the name (and proving I hadn't imagined it) back in 2007. Looks like that advice paid off.
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Re: Solid-body mini Autoharp?

Postby Posgroup » Sat Jun 18, 2011 9:20 am

I have a few Easy Chords. They are kind of like a ukulele version of an autoharp! Definitely cute.
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Re: Solid-body mini Autoharp?

Postby MatthewVanitas » Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:22 am

Posgroup wrote:I have a few Easy Chords. They are kind of like a ukulele version of an autoharp! Definitely cute.


I've been playing with the one I bought to give to the buddy's kid. We're going out for Sichuan Chinese dinner next week and I figured I'd give it to the dad then to take home. Thus far, I'm finding it pretty fun; it's high-pitched, but not necessarily shrieking or grating. With the short strings and no fine-tuners it takes a steady hand on the turn on the tuning key, but on the bright side only 18 strings to tune.

My primary kvetch would be not so much the limited chords, but the choices. It has a top row of Bb, C7, D7, and bottom row of F, C, G. Setting aside transposing issues (I'd prefer DG vice FC), I'm not thrilled having no minors, and two 7ths (which I'm not fond of in general). Should it be relatively easy to "hack" this instrument to change the chords? I can just unscrew the comb cover, take off a bar and re-do its felt, relabel the key, and I'm good, yes?

With the strings it has now in the tunings it has now, it could do CG (though then I'd have two wasted A# strings). The lowest string is already a D, so I could get a DG if I were to eliminate the A#s for two C#s and move a few things over accordingly.

For key settup, I'm totally new to autoharp, but I'd imagine something like this would be useful for folk:

C - e - b (lowercase for minors)
- G - D - A

For the Easy Chord for my buddy's kid, I'll just leave it as-is. I have a diatonic 'harp off of eBay coming in the mail, but I do think it'd be fun to have a tricked-out Easy Chord too, so I might get one myself, re-felt it as mentioned above, and while I'm in there tweak the action, put in better springs etc.

Has anyone worked on an Easy Chord, or have any comment as to things I should consider while fixing one up for myself with a better chord selection, to get better action, etc?
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Re: Solid-body mini Autoharp?

Postby MatthewVanitas » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:10 pm

UPDATE: I liked the maple EC so much, I'm keeping it for myself and picked up a different one for my buddy's kid.

Turns out the next Oscar Schmidt EC I got was the exact model I saw some 15 years ago: it is indeed solid body, painted red, and five chords. It's a little grimy, and the strings are all jet-black. The felts are falling off, but not a huge deal since I want to re-felt to C diatonic anyway. I figure the kid would get more use having C-F-G and Am-Dm than with the current Bb-C7-F-G-C. Tom Fladmark makes string sets for the EC for $36, and since this is going to be a fully-refurbished gift I guess I'll spring for a set of those too.

All in all, $50 shipped for the red 5-chord EC, about $5 of bar-felt, $7.50 for new white buttons with labels, $36 for strings. So just under $100 when done, and it is a very cute little instrument. Will report back once I get it to my buddy's kid.
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