My Quickie Instructions on Converting a 15 Chord Autoharp to 21 Chords
Before you start
Consider putting new strings on your harp (search Google shopping) and cleaning it while you have it all taken apart, after you remove the 15 chord setup and before you add the new 21 Chord setup.
You’ll probably need a drill (borrow one) with a range of small drill bits (99¢ Store often has sets), some paper tape, small Phillips head screwdriver.
The whole process took me almost exactly one hour of focused work.
Need an Autoharp conversion Kit?
(I’m not affiliated with any companies below)
Text instructions (PDF from the Oscar Schmidt site HERE):
These instructions assume that you know the basic principles of an autoharp, and that you are reasonably skilled with a screwdriver, drill, square etc. This installation is not difficult but does require a minimum of mechanical skills.
1. Remove the old bar set. Clean up your ‘harp and change the strings if needed. 2. Lay out the conversion kit parts. Springs and screws may be placed in a can with a magnet to keep from loosing them. You should have 42 springs, 4 small screws
for the cover, 4 longer screws for the combs, (some combs require smaller screws as well, each kit seems to vary). You should also have 4 metal angle brackets to hold down the cover, and 21 bars, 21 buttons. Call if you are missing any parts.
3. Lay one comb at the treble end of the ‘harp, screw holes to the inside. Line this comb up to measure 5/8” from pin center to the #36 string, measuring from both ends of comb. Also position it as near the anchor end of ‘harp as the placement of the cover will allow, to give maximum playing room between the cover and the tuning pins. This should place the comb at about 1⁄4” from the metal anchor cover on “B” model ‘harps. Tape comb in place temporarily.
4. Lay the bass comb on the opposite side in like manner but don’t bother to tape it down just yet.
5. Find the “F” and “F7” bars. Put in place, one at each end of combs. The hole in the bar belongs at the treble end, the slot at the bass end. Remove the tape on the treble comb, and move it in or out so that the felts on the bars line up as perfectly as possible with the strings they must dampen, and the gaps line up with the strings that must ring. Do this while keeping the comb as parallel as possible to the #36 string. The #1 and #36 strings should be open. Once the best position is found, tape the comb to the ‘harp.
6. With an awl or ice pick, mark the holes on the treble comb. Remove the comb now and pre-drill the larger screw holes with a 5/64” bit, at the depth needed for the screw.
7. Anchor this comb by placing the metal angle brackets in the corresponding slots under the comb, and attach the comb with the provided screws.
8. Put the two “F” bars back on the combs and line up the bass comb. The comb pins should be about half way into the slots. With a small square, square the #1 string to the chord bar. Now fasten this comb in place as you did the other.
9. Now you may install the springs and the chord bars in your desired positions. Line up the buttons in three rows to correspond with the holes in the cover.
10. When placing the cover, use a pencil eraser to help shift the buttons to line up with the holes in the cover. Now you may fasten the cover with the provided screws, and begin the process of checking that everything works as planned.
That’s it! Enjoy!
And finally, one of my big inspirations: