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Useful Publications & Links

CHAPTERS - chapterI:Just Getting Started chapterII:More experienced?


Although often thought of as primarily a folk instrument, the autoharp can be played in a wide range of music – almost anything you can think of has been played on an autoharp at one time or another – folk (including traditional, revival, country, old time and bluegrass), popular music from many different decades, classical and modern ‘serious’ music, ragtime, jazz, blues. So anything goes!

At its simplest the autoharp can be used simply to strum along to accompany other instruments, or singing, while more able and experienced players will develop these skills to use more varied and intricate accompaniments using a variety of strumming methods and other techniques.

On the other hand, some players prefer to pick out individual strings to produce pure clean melodies, while very skilled players may also add a variety of harmonies and rhythm accompaniment to the melody line.

Below is a list of useful publications and links UKA



A Guide For The Occasional Player.pdf
*Supplied by Georgia Autoharpers, by kind permission of the author, Laurie Searle. Sadly, Georgia Autoharpers are no longer active, but we particularly recommend this excellent guide. It includes ‘Songs & Tunes’ , also the basics of autoharping: Types of Autoharps, Holding the Autoharp, Tuning the Autoharp, Selecting Picks, Rhythm Playing, Melody Playing, Playing by Ear, Playing by Sheet Music and Additional Resources.

The Autoharp Owner's Manual covers autoharp maintenance, conversions, tuning and string schedules (both diatonic and chromatic), building your own instrument, playing techniques, evaluating instruments, chord bar setups, amplification, history, and much more. Each subject is addressed by a current premier musician/builder. The articles in this book have been taken from past issues of Autoharp Quarterly and have been updated to address current innovations, problems, and instruments. It is a 'must have' for every autoharp player.

Mel Bays

Why not invest in one of the excellent books which are available such as: Mel Bay’s Complete Method for Autoharp or Chromaharp, written by Meg Peterson in the late 1970s (Mel Bay Publications Inc, Pacific, Missouri, USA). Available on Amazon and other sites.
“The most complete, authoritative text available on autoharp. Teacher and author Meg Peterson presents a colorful array of songs and styles as well as a myriad of strum patterns in an easy-to-understand manner. This self-teaching course features Meg's highly acclaimed system for teaching melody solo performance on the autoharp. .... 48 lessons....... reference section... for those who wish to learn about music notation, theory, harmony, transposition, and chord substitution..... 122 practice songs..... information on tuning, changing strings..... CD.”!


Cathy Britell’s excellent It’s an Autoharp – a very first beginner’s guide to autoharp playing. Includes a CD. “This is just the book to own if you wish to learn to play the autoharp. Cathy sets out with the assumption that the student has no familiarity with the instrument and gently guides the student to the place where the student’s own creativity can take wing. It’s a dandy book.” Stew Schneider.

Cathy Britell has sold many copies of Autoharp For Kids for $15.00 each, and received many positive comments about the book. Now, she has decided to make it freely available as a gift to anyone who wants to share this wonderful instrument with children.

Both are available direct from Cathy Britell’s website

  • Certainly look at some of the excellent material on YouTube provided by the UK’s own youtubeRyan Carr & youtubeBob Ebdon also US experts such as youtubeJo Anne Smith.
  • Join UKA and get access to the UKA Members Area. An invaluable source of information, videos and downloads. Membership also entitles you to more than 40% discount when booking a UKA Event.
  • Come along to one of the UKA’s own training Days, which include workshops for everyone from absolute beginners to advanced players. More Info...
  • Investigate attending a week or a weekend at one of the Sore Fingers Summer Schools events – Easter Week or October Weekend – where you will find classes for many instruments, including autoharp, at these predominantly Bluegrass and Old Time events. More Info...
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Subscribe to The Autoharp Quarterly. Excellent magazine produced four times a year by the D'Aigle Family (Pete is the luthier of the very beautiful D’Aigle autoharps) of Seattle, Washington State, USA. It contains great information about autoharps, autoharp techniques and autoharp people, as well as a lot of music for both chromatic and diatonic players of various abilities.

Chords Aplenty

Lucille Reilly’s Chords Aplenty may prove to be invaluable if you want to work out your own chording and tab for arrangements of tunes and songs that you want to play, or even just to increase your understanding of music theory as applied to the autoharp.
“This long-awaited masterwork has it all: chord options for every note in every key, chording strategies, ploys for determining a tune’s key, modes, transposing tunes and more… applied to a wide range of well-known and less-heard tunes… a definitive autoharp reference for years to come.”

Going Diatoinc

And if you are contemplating starting out with diatonic playing, you might like to look out for Going Diatonic: a comprehensive guide to autoharp conversion by George Foss. May also be available from Amazon Books.
“First published in 1990, and still the best book for converting your autoharp to a diatonic, Bryan-Bowers type setup. Everybody’s doing it! In-depth treatment of the musical principles involved, an array of diagrams for your new chord bars, some tuning tips and lots more.”

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