Everyone has their own preference when it comes to autoharps. Some like diatonic 'harps, others like chromatic. Some like homemade autoharps, others can only afford the standard-Oscar Schmidt. That's where I am. I've been playing my OS since I started in 1998, and I love it. Sure, I'd love to try out a better autoharp, but for right now, Oscar Schmidt is the way to go!
Disclosure: These links go to my amazon affiliate. I've found that Amazon usually offers the best deal on new autoharps, but feel free to look around.
Beautiful 15-chord autoharp. It plays in 7 keys, has traditional button configuration, a laminated rock maple pin block, and tobacco sunburst finish. Not the best-constructed instrument, but it is the Best value for a newbie.
21 CHORD ADIRONDACK MODEL - natural solid spruce top, sunburst birdseye maple back (laminated), imitation abalone inlay around top & soundhole, cream binding, high gloss finish. Pro Series instrument with fine tuning system. Tuning wrench, tuning tips & picks included.
21-Chord Autoharp with Built in pickup. If you're looking to go professional or you just want to be heard among the throng of musicians. You need a pickup. This 'harp will save you the installation fee later.
Personal Note: As I said before, everyone has a preference of sound. I found that my favorite autoharp bodies were made in the late 70s and 80s. I don't know how they were made, but they have a warmer sound that I love. I search far and wide to find autoharps that meet those specs. Then I customize with a 1/4" pickup and Chuck Daniels' custom action bar which suits my needs perfectly.
The 15-chord autoharp I mentioned above is not the best made instrument. While it's a great starter instrument, it feels poorly made, and I don't care for the sound of it at all. The Appalachian has the best sound to my ear, but it still doesn't compare to those 70s and 80s autoharps.
While they are not my first preference, buying a chromaharp will save a good $50, so if you're just starting out, give it a shot.
Tips on purchasing an autoharp.
Chuck Daniels Autoharp Repair Page
Outstanding customization of Oscar Schmidt autoharps. Services include: Custom Action Hold Down System, Refelting, Restringing, and diatonic conversions.
* I had Chuck add his custom-action hold down system to one of my autoharps. It greatly reduced the amount of noise from the keys. I still love it ten years later!
Autoharp Works by Bob Lewis
Bob Lewis also does similar work as Chuck and is an expert on Diatonic autoharps.
Stringed Instruments in Missoula
Autoharp builder and repair
You can also create your own Autoharp Repair Kit quite easily to fix any problems you have with your autoharp.
If you want a quality instrument that will last you for many years to come, consider having a custom-designed autoharp. It will cost you, but it's worth it. Check out these great luthiers.