• The Autoharp

    The autoharp is a stringed instrument of the zither family and is most often used for accompaniment in folk and country music. It can be played on a table, on the player's lap, or resting on the player's shoulder. The player typically strums the strings with a pick held in the right hand while the left operates button-controlled bars that damp all strings except those of the selected chords.
    There is some debate over the origin of the autoharp. In 1882, Charles F. Zimmermann, a German immigrant in Philadelphia, patented what he called the "autoharp" which was a symmetrical instrument that included mechanisms for muting certain strings during play. Circa 1883, a German named C. A. Gütter obtained a patent for what he called a "Volkszither." Gütter's instrument more closely resembles the autoharp we are familiar with today. After a trip to Germany, Zimmerman returned to the US and began producing Gütter's design in 1885 with the name "autoharp." 
Last Modified on April 12, 2015