Top Autoharps – Guide & Comparison
If you’ve embarked on a musical journey and the instrument that raises your interest is the autoharp, this paragraph might be of help as it will provide you with the information you need to get one step closer to finding the best autoharp for your needs. After carefully examining the features of various products in this category, we have concluded that the first model to consider is the Oscar Schmidt 36-String OS11021FNE. The handcrafted design and the materials used render this product ideal for beginners and seasoned players alike. It will help you keep the instrument in tune at all times thanks to the integrated Ft600 fine-tuning system and engage in live performances due to the built-in passive pickup it comes with. If this item is out of stock, a reliable alternative in terms of quality is the Oscar Schmidt OS45CE Appalachian.
Our Top Choice
Carefully and stylishly-handcrafted, this unit might be just what you need if you want to practice more and do so for a long time. High tuning precision is ensured by the Ft600 fine-tuning system featured. Moreover, the item comes with a built-in passive pickup, which makes it ideal for plugged-in sessions. Its stylish maple top and gloss finish will pair your gigs with pleasing visuals as well.
Since it boasts such features, the item might not be that affordable.
Ideal for beginners and advanced players alike, this unit promises to last, help you create superior sonic works, and add a stylish visual touch to your performance as well.
If bluegrass and folk are the genres you prefer and you’re on the lookout for an autoharp to match such needs, this unit is worth paying attention to. The instrument features quality maple and spruce that will help you create full and rich sounds for a long time. The flower-shaped soundhole further enhances the stylishness of this product and sets it apart.
This model does not include a fine-tuning system to help you tune it more easily.
Give this product a try if you want to take your music performance one level higher and advance your skills. It is stylish, durable, and easy to transport and store.
Also To Consider
Rest assured that this autoharp will get noticed and will do so not only through the sound quality provided but also through a stylish design. It is addressed to both beginners and seasoned players. The instrument plays in 11 different keys, a feature that ensures versatility. Furthermore, its dimensions promise to make it easy and comfortable for you to transport it.
The product does not come with a built-in tuner yet it includes a tuning wrench.
With a stylish blue body and quality materials that are committed to ensuring durability, this autoharp will help you learn and explore more with greater ease.
10 Best Autoharps (Updated Reviews) in 2020
Today’s market is quite generous when it comes to autoharps, which means that there are many options to choose from but that it might also take a bit of time to find the best autoharp to buy. To ease your shopping and decision-making process, we have showcased below some of the most appreciated items in this line.
- 1. Oscar Schmidt 36-String OS11021FNE
- 2. Oscar Schmidt OS45CE Appalachian
- 3. Oscar Schmidt OS21CQTBL Blue
- 4. Oscar Schmidt Classic With Bag & Book
- 5. Oscar Schmidt OS11021AE Satin Brown
- 6. Oscar Schmidt OSC-OS45C 21-Chord
- 7. Oscar Schmidt 15 Chord With Bag
- 8. Oscar Schmidt 21 Chord Autoharp
- 9. Oscar Schmidt OS15B Autoharp
- 10. Oscar Schmidt OS73C Autoharp
- Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Oscar Schmidt 36-String OS11021FNE
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional autoharp player, this autoharp by Oscar Schmidt is worth paying attention to as it boasts features that will help you master this instrument and get closer to the sonic output you’re after. The unit was carefully handcrafted and thus promises to ensure durability as well as superior sound quality.
To make sure your instrument is always in tune, the unit sports the Ft600 fine-tuning system, a feature that will enable you to enjoy greater precision when tuning the autoharp. This system turns out to be a great advantage especially if you play a lot and thus need to tune the instrument quite often.
Furthermore, the fine-tuning system will also spare you the trouble of tuning the instrument using the pegs, which might get tedious if performed daily. This also means that you will get to protect the pegs from wear and tear.
The product was also designed to please the eye; therefore, it boasts a flame natural maple top that comes with a stylish gloss finish. The unit features a built-in passive pickup, which makes it ideal for plugged-in performance.
Equipped with features that will help you keep the instrument in tune easily, this handcrafted Oscar Schmidt autoharp will take your sonic adventure one step further and help you advance your skills.
Since tuning is such an important part when it comes to performance quality, this model comes with a fine-tuning system that will help you tune the instrument easily and as often as you need.
The tuning system will not only provide you with greater tuning precision but will also prevent the pegs from wearing and tearing too soon.
The stylish maple top and gloss finish will add to your performance from an aesthetical point of view.
Thanks to the built-in passive pickup, the unit can be employed for plugged-in performances as well.
The unit might fall a bit on the expensive side yet the features it comes with make it a reliable instrument.Buy from Amazon.com for ($499.99)
2. Oscar Schmidt OS45CE Appalachian
Built with bluegrass and folk players in mind, this electric autoharp is ideal if you’re looking for a reliable instrument that will help you explore and translate your sonic creativity or simply advance your skills. Featuring quality materials and nice visuals, this instrument promises to help you create autoharp music for a long time.
To keep up with extended use and to deliver superior sound quality, the product boasts a spruce top, a maple body, and a satin finish. These features are committed to working together to enhance your sonic performance and add nice visuals to your practice or live sessions. Furthermore, this model sports a unique flower-shaped soundhole, which sets it apart.
The Appalachian is also available in an acoustic version in case your needs require such a model. The electric unit weighs only 10 pounds and is about 23 inches high and 12.5 inches wide, which means you can easily add it to your travel gear or carry it from one place to another.
The instrument sports a passive pickup, so you don’t have to worry about batteries or losing power. It does not come with a fine-tuning system; therefore, you will have to fine-tune it yourself.
If you’re a bluegrass/folk player interested in getting an electric autoharp that will keep up with your musical preferences and requirements for a long time, this unit is worth adding to your list of options.
The instrument promises to ensure superior sound quality thanks to the materials used and the way it was built.
It features a spruce top, a maple body, and a satin finish that result in a stylish instrument.
The product comes with a unique flower-shaped soundhole that will add nice visuals to your performance.
Thanks to the passive pickup featured, the unit allows for plugged-in sessions.
The product is lightweight and small, which ensures ease of storage and transportation.
This model does not come with a fine-tuning system, which means you will have to fine-tune it yourself, a process that might prove to be challenging and time-consuming especially at first.Buy from Amazon.com for ($494.01)
3. Oscar Schmidt OS21CQTBL Blue
Created to ensure comfortable and easy playing as well as superior tone response, this model from Oscar Schmidt boasts features that will meet the needs of beginners and seasoned players alike. From the quality of the materials used to the way it was built, this autoharp stands for reliability, playability, and superior aesthetics.
The first thing you’ll notice about this unit is its carefully and stylishly-designed body. The instrument boasts a maple body and top as well as a rock maple pin block. The glossy finish further enhances the nice visuals offered by this model.
The blue autoharp is not only about cool aesthetics, though. It was designed with musicians in mind and therefore promises to provide its users with superior sound quality and versatility. It thus plays in 11 different keys, a feature many players have appreciated. Thanks to the patented chord bar, beginners will find it less difficult to learn how to play autoharp.
The item weighs only 10 pounds and measures 25 x 13 x 5 inches, which means that you can easily add it to your musical gear even when traveling or carry it from one place to another. The pack also includes a tuning wrench.
If a superior tone response, playability, and a stylish build are the benefits you have in mind when thinking of your new autoharp, this model might be right up your alley.
The product was carefully designed and thus features quality materials that will last and deliver the sound quality you’re after.
Committed to helping musicians of all levels enhance their performance, the unit plays in 11 different keys, so players can cover a greater variety of needs.
This item comes with a patented chord bar that promises to make it less difficult to discover and master the ins and outs of this instrument.
The autoharp is not only about high sound quality but also about stylish visuals thanks to the maple and glossy finish used.
The unit does not have a built-in tuner, so you will have to tune it yourself, which might prove to be a tedious process at first.Buy from Amazon.com for ($379.95)
4. Oscar Schmidt Classic With Bag & Book
Discovering the sonic capacities of autoharps is easier with this model from Oscar Schmidt as it was built with the needs of beginners in mind. It can also be employed by experienced players interested in exploring the sonic outputs one can create when using the autoharp. The pack includes a quality autoharp and a few accessories many students will find quite useful.
You will thus get a book that will provide you with step-by-step learning methods so you can master this instrument in no time and play your favorite autoharp songs professionally. To further simplify your experience, the autoharp boasts a patented chord bar for easy playing.
The unit plays in 11 keys, a feature that renders it versatile and thus ideal for a variety of music interests. To pair its sonic capacities with nice visuals, the manufacturer used quality maple to build this model. Furthermore, the product comes with a stylish high-gloss sunburst finish.
To make it easier for you to transport the instrument from one place to another and to protect it when you don’t use it, the item is paired with a bag. Plus, you will also get a tuning hammer and finger picks.
If you’re new to autoharp playing and you’d like to learn more about the sonic capacities of this instrument, this model might be just what you need.
The product comes with a learning book that will help you master this unit with greater ease.
The item plays in 11 keys that ensure versatility and features a patented chord bar for easy playing.
Thanks to the quality maple used and the glossy finish, the unit will also enhance your performance from an aesthetical point of view.
To further simplify your experience, the autoharp comes with a tuning hammer and finger picks.
Ease of storage and transportation is ensured by the bag included in the pack as well as by the product’s dimensions and weight.
The book is intended for beginners and young players; therefore, more seasoned musicians might find it to be of little help.Click to see the price on Amazon!
5. Oscar Schmidt OS11021AE Satin Brown
Featuring a stylish design, quality materials, and a built-in tuning system, this autoharp is worth adding to your list of options. Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve already gained experience in this field, this unit can help you learn, explore, and create sonic works of superior quality.
To make it possible for you to use it for a long time and enjoy appealing sounds, the product boasts a solid spruce back and an ovangkol top. Thanks to the new chord bar arrangement, you will get to play in the keys you like best with greater ease. Plus, this model offers special chords that render the unit ideal for folk, bluegrass, and traditional music.
The product is not only durable and versatile but also easy to tune as it sports the FT600 fine-tuning system so you can easily make the finest tonal adjustments. This will also protect the pegs from wear and tear and spare you the tedious task of tuning the instrument yourself.
The instrument also sports a passive electronic pickup and a rock maple pin-block. The satin finish, the natural color, and the superior workmanship behind this unit will add a stylish touch to your performance.
Committed to helping you express your sonic versatility and keep the autoharp in tune with ease, this unit is a choice preferred by beginners and advanced players alike.
The quality materials used and the superior workmanship ensure durability; therefore, rest assured that you can employ the instrument for frequent practice sessions.
Due to the new chord bar arrangement, you can play in your most-loved keys with enhanced comfort.
The special chords included add to the versatility provided by this model, so you can use it for folk, bluegrass, and traditional music.
To make sure you get to tune the instrument with great precision, the unit includes the FT600 fine-tuning system.
The natural color, satin finish, and wood used result in a visually-appealing instrument.
The unit might be a bit heavy if you intend to travel or carry it from one place to another frequently.Buy from Amazon.com for ($495)
6. Oscar Schmidt OSC-OS45C 21-Chord
Whether you’re playing the autoharp as a spare time fun or you do that for a living, this model is an option you might want to take into account since it promises to ensure durability, playability, and superior sound quality.
Given the history and great appreciation of the instruments manufactured by Oscar Schmidt, this unit is committed to meeting the same high-quality standards. It thus features quality materials for its various parts including a spruce top and a maple body. The satin finish completes the stylish design.
Moreover, this model stands out through its unique flower-shaped soundhole, so it is a nice choice if you often engage in live sessions and want an instrument that is not only sonically superior but also visually appealing. It comes with 21 chords and a lightweight body that will enable you to add it to your gear when traveling.
The handcrafted quality translates into countless practice sessions and gigs. Considering its characteristics, the product makes a great option if you often play bluegrass but can also be employed for other musical genres. It is ideal for beginners and professional players alike and it is available with pickup as well.
Boasting the same high quality its manufacturer has provided for years, this autoharp will make it easier for you to discover new sonic ways to express your ideas.
Rest assured that this unit will last even if you engage in frequent practice sessions as the quality materials and build are committed to keeping up with extended use.
This model is an inspired choice if you want to use it for gigs as its stylish design will appeal to your audience; it comes with a unique flower-shaped soundhole that sets it apart from other units.
The product features 21 chords that will help you explore and employ the unit for various musical genres.
It is ideal for beginners and experienced players alike and, thanks to its build, it can easily be added to one’s travel gear.
The unit does not come with a tuning system as other models from this manufacturer.Buy from Amazon.com for ($309.21)
7. Oscar Schmidt 15 Chord With Bag
With a durable body and highly appreciated sonic capacities, this autoharp features 15 chords that allow for musical diversity. The product makes a great choice regardless of your skills and level as it can be used by beginners and professional players alike. It provides the necessary features to meet the needs of both categories of players.
To provide enhanced durability as well as rich and full sounds, the instrument features a maple body. It also comes with a rock maple pin block and a gloss finish. The way it was crafted and the choice of materials result in a sonically and visually-appealing blend.
If you don’t practice at home or you’ve already reached an advanced level and thus engage in live sessions, this kit will make it easier for you to carry your autoharp as it includes a bag that will ensure easy transportation. The bag also provides the unit with protection as it is padded.
The small and lightweight body will make it even more convenient for you to transport it. The pack also includes a tuning wrench and picks so you can get started right away. It has been appreciated for its senior-friendly design.
Ideal for musicians on the road but also for those who practice at home, this kit includes a stylish autoharp, a bag for easy transportation as well as a few accessories to get started right away.
The choice of materials and the carefully-crafted body ensure enhanced durability and thus make it ideal if you plan to use it frequently as it won’t damage anytime soon.
Considering the sonic capacities of this model, you might want to try it whether you’re new to this or you’re a more experienced player.
The pack also includes a tuning wrench and assorted picks and the bag provided is padded to keep your instrument safe during transportation.
The sunburst finish will also complement your performance from a visual point of view.
The instrument does not include a fine-tuning system and thus tuning it might be a bit challenging at first, especially if you are a beginner.Buy from Amazon.com for ($419.99)
8. Oscar Schmidt 21 Chord Autoharp
For approximately one century, Oscar Schmidt Company has been offering instruments with a voice representing the individual freedom for American Folk Music. This particular model of autoharp is the company’s most popular choice as it is easy to handle and play, even by those who are picking up the instrument for the first time.
You can rest assured the autoharps from Oscar Schmidt pass a detailed quality check control, ensuring that each instrument is ready to play.
This 21-chord autoharp is designed for both music enthusiasts and newbies. It features a gorgeous maple body in gloss sunburst for a touch of retro and a chromatic 21-chord bar with three rows of buttons for quick and smooth chord transitions. The patented chord bar button layout includes, amongst others, A, D, G, C, F, Bb, Eb, and A Major.
The rock maple pin block delivers improved strength to ensure your instrument is always in tune.
The company has been in the industry for about 100 years, gaining the hearts of millions of happy American customers, so you won’t regret choosing this autoharp.
It is easy and comfortable to play and comes with detailed instructions on how to tune it and use it, meaning it represents a wonderful tool for newbies.
The body is made of premium maple wood in a sunburst gloss to protect the instrument from extreme temperatures, rain, dust, and stains, without affecting the overall quality of the sound.
The chromatic 21-chord bar with three rows of buttons ensures smooth and quick chord transitions.
The company used to manufacture its autoharps at home, in the United States but switched to industrial manufacturing in Korea for some years now. This means that there might be some flaws coming with this autoharp as they are not handmade. However, they are a more affordable option if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a musical instrument.Buy from Amazon.com
9. Oscar Schmidt OS15B Autoharp
Counting for approximately one century of history, the American-based company Oscar Schmidt has become increasingly popular in the 1920s, delivering high-quality instruments to enthusiast musicians looking to create quality folk music and keep the traditional American values alive.
The OS15B autoharp benefits from handcrafted quality, which means each item is unique and delivers outstanding sound quality. The body is made of premium maple wood and comes with a sunburst gloss finish to add a touch of retro but also to protect the instrument from high temperatures, stains, and water that might alter the quality of the sound created.
The rock maple pin block ensures your autoharp will always be in tune. The product is easy to play and represents a fun way to spend time with your family, no matter if they’re professional musicians or beginners. However, it doesn’t come with a tuning hammer which means you might have to take the instrument to a music shop and have it tuned.
The product represents a great choice for beginners as it is easy to handle and play. It comes with all the necessary instructions too.
In case your bars break after a while, you can purchase replacement ones, which means you don’t have to change the entire instrument for just one broken piece.
The autoharp is delivered pre-strung with quality strings but you can always change them with the ones of your liking to make the instrument sound exactly the way you want it to.
It comes with a tuning wrench to help you easily tune it in case it doesn’t sound right.
If you just picked up this instrument you might have a hard time tuning it on your own so we suggest downloading one of the free apps you get on your phone or ask for professional help.
You have to press down on the frets hard to play a chord, which may not be a good thing for people with limited mobility and those who have arthritis.Buy from Amazon.com for ($349.91)
10. Oscar Schmidt OS73C Autoharp
Are you looking for a superb, high-quality autoharp to improve your playing skills or practice to perfection? The new OS73C model from Oscar Schmidt is handcrafted from superior quality woods to deliver unique sounds.
The solid spruce top combined with the mahogany back makes the item sturdy and a reliable choice for those who want an instrument that can travel with them. It features a semi-gloss finish to protect the autoharp from fine scratches, dust, debris, stains, and rain that might alter the instrument in time and the quality of its sound.
It comes with a device to tune the strings but not a tuner. However, you can purchase one yourself or rely on one of the multiple free apps you can get on your smartphone and save some money.
The unique design and shape of the instrument ensure comfortable playing and carrying, whether you want to hold it in your hands or keep it on your lap to reduce hand fatigue and wrist pain.
The instrument is made of premium-quality wood, including mahogany, to withstand different weather conditions and extreme temperatures without interfering with the sound quality.
The unique shape of the autoharp ensures easy and comfortable playing, whether you choose to keep it in your hands or put it on your lap.
It comes with a tuning wrench to help you easily tune the device but you might want to buy a chromatic tuner to make sure each sound is perfect.
The product is affordable and designed for beginners and those who want to improve their playing skills.
It doesn’t come with fingerpicks, mainly because each player has his or her unique style of playing and not all of them require this accessory.
If you’re not familiar with autoharps, you might have to take the instrument to a professional to get the strings tuned before playing it for the first time.Buy from Amazon.com for ($349.99)
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
Playing a musical instrument triggers various benefits. If you’ve chosen to embark on such a journey and play the autoharp, this buying guide might be of help if you still haven’t bought the instrument and need to do that.
Since there are various affordable autoharp models available for sale, identifying the best autoharp for beginners or more seasoned players might take a bit of time and research. To ease your decision-making process, we have highlighted below a few factors to consider before buying.
Types of autoharps
What is an autoharp more precisely? Briefly described, it is an instrument in the chorded zither family that has more than eleven strings that can be strummed with the hand or a pick. What sets this instrument apart is the fact that it features buttons to form the chords, so when you press them, all the strings that don’t belong to that chord are dampened.
What does an autoharp sound like? Autoharps, just like zithers, create a distinctive, high-register sound that is often heard in folk music, bluegrass, soundtracks, and even classical music.
Now, when looking for an autoharp, you’ll see that there are various types available and the greatest difference between them is the number of chords featured. There are 15-chord and 21-chord models.
Choosing between these two types depends on your level and the targets you want to reach. The market also offers 12-chord versions yet they won’t allow for too much flexibility.
An autoharp boasting 15 chords is ideal for beginners and young players as it is limited in musical range whereas a 21-chord model ensures greater versatility. Autoharps are further divided into chromatic and diatonic models.
The first category includes the regular types of autoharps that are ideal for beginners as they have all the scales of a piano. Diatonic autoharps create a sweeter sound and are preferred by advanced players.
You can’t play the autoharp without tuning it, which means that, apart from the instrument itself, you will have to get a tuner. The good thing is that many models come with an integrated fine-tuning system as some of the products we’ve showcased above. Such models will significantly ease your experience.
However, if you can’t afford such an instrument, you will have to buy an electronic tuner or tuning wrench. Some autoharp kits include various accessories among which a tuning wrench. The thing with such a tuning item is that you will have to pick up the sounds yourself.
Materials used and accessories
Even if your budget only allows you to get a cheap autoharp, you should consider the quality of the materials used and the way the product was designed. If you plan to be serious about playing this instrument, you might want to invest in a more expensive model as it is more likely to serve your needs for a longer time.
There is a variety of wood choices used for the various parts of an autoharp. Spruce, maple, cedar, and mahogany are some of the most popular materials employed in the production of this instrument. Consider the finish an instrument comes with as well. High-quality materials and craftsmanship translate into durability and better sounds.
If you plan to travel a lot and take your autoharp with you, you might also want to look for a kit that includes a padded bag to protect the instrument during transportation and make it easier for you to carry it from one place to another.
Not to mention that dust can reach various parts of the instrument if left exposed. Bags will prevent dust from forming in hard-to-reach places and thus spare you the trouble of frequently cleaning the instrument, which might prove to be a bit challenging given the design of an autoharp.
Your targets regarding this instrument and how serious you are about playing it will help you decide what type of autoharp to buy. However, your budget will force you to narrow down the extensive list of options whether you’re looking for a cheap or expensive model.
As we’ve said above, more expensive models should be considered if playing this instrument is not just a whim and you want to become good at it and even take it to the stage and enchant people with your music.
Some players prefer to buy a cheaper model at first and upgrade to a more expensive one once they advance their skills. This choice has advantages as in case you realize that this instrument is not for you, you won’t regret having spent too much.
Still, if you like it and you are good at playing it, buying a second more expensive model means you won’t use the first one that much anymore. You might want to consider getting a refurbished or used instrument if you’re a beginner. It usually costs less and, with a bit of research and luck, you can get a pretty nice one.
Think of what the unit offers in terms of tuning systems and accessories. If it does not come with any of these, then you’ll have to buy them separately, which adds to the final cost. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, it is always best to try out the instrument before buying and see how it feels and sounds. You can thus know instantly if it is what you need or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does an autoharp work?
The autoharp is a folk instrument meant to be played to deliver individual and original sounds, which means it is the perfect tool to experiment with new styles and create unique songs.
Generally speaking, an autoharp is easy to play, and this is why it has increased in popularity amongst those who wanted to pick up a musical instrument. The product usually has 36 strings, as opposed to most regular guitars that come with 6 strings or ukuleles with 4 but, despite this, you will find that playing the autoharp is much easier than learning to play the guitar.
It features a set of chord bars attached to dampers that will mute all the other strings beside the ones from the desired chord every time you press them. The instrument is generally made of wood and features a rectangular shape with one of the corners cut off.
Q: How do you tune an autoharp?
Whenever you’re purchasing a new autoharp, you will most likely receive it untuned, which means you’ll have to take it on yourself to make the instrument work and sound exactly the way you want it to. However, tuning an autoharp should be made carefully and it is a task that requires time, even if you’re familiar with the instrument.
Mass-manufactured products should preferably be checked by experts and set up to avoid any problems in the future.
Some autoharps come with a tuning wrench to help with the process but you’ll still need to purchase a chromatic tuner for best results. If you don’t want to spend your money on such an accessory, there is also the option of downloading an app on your smartphone that will help you stay in tune every time you touch your harp.
For best tuning, you need to find the correct octave, and then tune each string in succession. Try tuning all the F notes throughout the octaves first, then proceed to the G notes, and so on.
Q: Can you use guitar strings on an autoharp?
One of the biggest problems with autoharps is that the string sets are expensive. Each autoharp comes with 36 or 37 strings that have to be specially made for the instrument to fit.
First of all, you have to consider the ends of the string. Given that guitars and autoharps are available in different sizes, using guitar strings to tune your autoharp might only be possible for some strings as the guitar strings may not fit on the end of the other instrument.
That being said, the unwound strings can be replaced with regular guitar strings as long as you find the correct gauge. However, there isn’t any online guide that you can use as inspiration to make regular guitar strings suitable for an autoharp as the process would be complicated.
Therefore, as much as they would cost, we recommend you only use strings specifically designed for the autoharp.