What are the Differences Between the Autoharps?
The obvious initial difference to take in to consideration is 15 Chord vs 21 Chord . A 15 Chord autoharp will be more limited in the musical range of the songs you can play. However for a child a 15 Chord will be simpler to learn and play songs on. Many times 15 Chords are found in music instruction rooms in grade schools.
The second biggest difference is the tuning system. They all have tuning pegs at the top of the Autoharp, but some have second small tuning pegs that are adjusted with an Allen wrench at the bottom as well. This secondary tuning is called a fine tuning system. The pegs at the top will tune your autoharp satisfactory for most people's recreational playing. But because the pegs are larger every turn changes the tension of the string by a significant amount. If you are playing professionally you may be interested in have a more refined exact sound and the small pegs at the bottom will change the tension a very small amount, letting you fine tune the Autoharp.
Third is an electric pickup. Most of the Autoharps are strictly acoustic. However there are autoharps that have a pickup built into the side of them; these are considered acoustic / electric - meaning they can be played wither way. Acoustic / electrics have a sound hole and a pickup so they can be used both ways. There is one however that is specifically electric; the OS150FCE. This Autoharp has no sound hole and is intended to be used electrically only.
Lastly is style and woods. Most are either Maple or Spruce. Spruce is generally considered an upgrade over Maple. Spruce produces a clearer range with more powerful highs and lows than Maple.
The glue from lamination (lamination is taking strips of wood and gluing it together to form a solid piece) can interrupt the reverberation of the sound off the wood and affect richness of the sound coming from the autoharp. However the advances in glues have decreased this since the early days of lamination. So the sound coming from lamination will be a little more muted than a solid. They also tend to be heavier because of the glue.
Here is the down side of the solid face – they are affected by humidity more than laminated. Laminated can expand and retract better than solid wood. Solid wood if it gets humid enough can warp or expand and affect the joints at the sides of the autoharp. So if you are playing outdoors a lot or don’t have a good storage location or are giving to a child that may be less careful with it, laminated is a good choice.
The color and style are generally aesthetic. It all depends on the color you want, wood grain, and in the case of the OS 45C - unique sound hole shape.What is the difference between an Autoharp vs. Chromaharp
An Autoharp is actually a brand name that has become synonymous with a type of instrument because of its popularity. Oscar Schmidt developed a new instrument and called it an Autoharp. However they also created this as a brand for the instrument when others started producing like instruments. Others needed a name to call their versions so they chose Chromaharp.