How to Tune an Autoharp Without a Tuning Wrench

The autoharp is a great instrument for beginners, but it can be frustrating not to tune. However, tuning an autoharp without a tuning wrench can be done with patience and the proper technique. The following are instructions on how to tune an autoharp without a tuning wrench.

Tuning up an autoharp can be difficult if you don’t have the right tools on hand, so today, we’ll show you how to tune your autoharp without a tuning wrench. So tune in with these steps, and soon enough, you’ll sound like your favorite musician! However, if you don’t have one handy, there are still steps you can take to tune your instrument without it. 

How to Tune an Autoharp Without a Tuning Wrench

3 Types of Autoharp Tuning Techniques:

1. Chord Method:

Like guitars and other chorded instruments, Autoharps can be tuned to chords by playing the desired chord and adjusting the air spring pressure of each row of strings until each string sounds in tune with its neighbors.

The main difference between guitar tuning and autoharp tuning is that an individual strumming a guitar may get a chord accidentally, but a good autoharpist can always get a chord.

2. Chromatic Method:

Autoharps may also be tuned chromatically using the following method: The Autoharp is placed in its usual position with the melody row of strings to the player’s right. If it is strung for left-handed playing, the opposite direction applies. The primary tuning wrench is used to unlock all of the lowest bass strings at the far left of the instrument.

The remaining strings are tuned one by one, starting with a single string and working across each row from left to right until each string has been tuned once. When a new chord is formed on any row, the string for that chord is tuned. Some players use their ears to tune individual strings, while others use a chromatic tuner.

3. Single-String Method:

The methods above are designed for someone tuning their instrument in preparation for playing. However, some players prefer to tune each string individually at other times, such as when changing instruments, adjusting after moving an autoharp across the country, or if they break a string and cannot wait to get it fixed.

Used to Unlock All of  The Lowest Bass Strings

To do this, place your primary tuning wrench on top of the string you want to tune. Then, rotate the wrench until it reaches a point midway between where the string is too high and in tune. The vibration of each freely-tuned string will cause all of the other strings to vibrate sympathetically, producing an overall effect similar to that of a finely-tuned instrument.

7 Ways on How to Tune an Autoharp Without a Tuning Wrench:

1. Tune it by Ear Using the Notes on the Strings:

Autoharps are designed with a unique layout of strings and levers. In addition, each string is labeled with the note it plays when any levers are not dampening it. This makes tuning an autoharp relatively simple: start by playing each string and using the corresponding set of notes to adjust them.

2. Use a Chromatic Tuner:

To tune your autoharp in the key of C major, match the notes played by the autoharp to notes played by a chromatic tuner. This is useful for quickly matching up all of the strings and getting them close to their proper pitches.

3. Tune Using an Online Autoharp Tuning Chart:

An online autoharp tuning chart is a resource that can be used to determine the proper pitch for each string. There are many available charts on various music websites, including this one found through Wikipedia.

4. Tune Using a Digital PIP Camera:

A digital PIP camera can be used to tune your autoharp. Place the autoharp directly under the camera, making sure that it focuses on the autoharp strings. Please take a photo and review it for each string. Sliding your fingers gently along each line will change its pitch, and you can use the photo to determine how far out of tune each string is. Adjust as needed.

5. Use the String Lengths:

Autoharps also have levers that lengthen each string such that the most extended strings are the bass strings and the shortest are for playing melodies on the treble side of the autoharp. Some levers have an arrow carved into the lever itself, showing which direction to move it.

6. Tune Using a Professional Autoharp Tuner:

One of the newest technologies in autoharps is an electric tuner built right into the autoharp itself. These autoharps are primarily manufactured by Hohnica but are also available through Lyon & Healy and other custom manufacturers. With one of these autoharps, you can tune your autoharp using a special tuning key that clamps onto the head of the autoharp.

Use a Chromatic Tuner

7. Tune Using a Pitch Pipe:

A pitch pipe is another traditional option for tuning your autoharp. They are small and easy to carry around and can be purchased inexpensively from any music store or online retailer. However, they produce no sound on their own. Instead, they act only to generate the proper pitch for each string so you can hear it.

You Can Check It Out to Hardtail a Floyd Rose

Things to Consider When Tuning an Autoharp Without a Tuning Wrench:

1. Each string is a different thickness and thus has a slightly different pitch.

2. Adjusting one string affects all the strings, so be gentle.

3. Remember to count from the note on the far left as you tune up and down so you stay in key throughout your song.

4. A sharp is when you’re high of the note, and flat is the opposite.

5. A string should be tuned to 1/2 of its tension (resistance). If you use your ear to tune it, this number will be less than five. If you use an instrument that doesn’t require much accuracy, let the instrument do all the work.

6. You don’t need to tune an autoharp like a guitar.

7. The same string should never be tuned more than two times in a row because that could permanently damage the string and make it sound wrong.

Tips to Maintain Your Autoharp:

1. If tuning your autoharp is something you do often, get a tuning wrench. Unfortunately, it’s harder to use than it looks.

2. There are other ways to tune an autoharp without a tuning wrench, such as using a guitar tuner or another instrument to adjust it by ear. This can be done but can take some time and patience.

Tune Using a Pitch Pipe

3. To avoid cracking the wood or warping, never expose your autoharp to extreme heat as this can ruin the soundboard and make tuning more difficult. Also, don’t leave it in a car during hot weather if you can help it.

4. Keep your autoharp out of direct sunlight and away from UV rays. This may be done by keeping it in a case if you have one.

5. Always keep your autoharp clean by dusting it often and wiping off excess dirt or grime that might build up on the soundboard or other parts. You can also use gentle wood cleaners to remove gunk if necessary, but make sure to wipe off any excess thoroughly.

6. Make sure your strings are tuned to the correct tension or pitch by checking them often. If they start looking flat, it’s time to re-tune them, possibly with a new set of strings if some are severely worn out. Replacing the strings is one of the most common repairs needed.

7. When removing a string, remove it from the tuning peg first and then the roller bar if your autoharp has one. This will prevent damage to both of these parts.

8. If you have a problem with any part of your autoharps, such as a loose string or soundboard crack, do not try to fix it yourself. If you know how to call a repairer and let him handle it instead of taking apart something that could be irreparable if done incorrectly.

Can You Tune an Autoharp With a Guitar Tuner?

An autoharp’s strings can be tuned with a guitar tuner, but first, there are a few caveats to know about. Many guitar tuners work by using the first string as a reference point. However, this doesn’t work too well on an autoharp because its first string is also one of its outermost strings, resulting in too loose.

The solution is to tune all of your strings by ear first; this method makes sure each is appropriately tuned. Then you can use a guitar tuner on one of the outermost strings to fine-tune all of your autoharp’s strings in unison.

How to Tune an Autoharp With a Tuning Fork?

You can tune your autoharp just like you would any other stringed instrument. For this method, you’ll want a pitch pipe or tuning fork that matches the pitch of E and try to match the open strings with these devices.

After all of the strings sound properly attuned when played open, apply the appropriate amount of tension to each string in turn until it matches the sound produced by the other strings you’ve already tuned.

Use Guitar String

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need to Tune an Autoharp?

No, you do not need to tune an autoharp. Autoharps are designed to be played in the same way every time they are used, and there is no need to adjust the strings or wood since they are made to last a lifetime.

Can You Tune an Autoharp With a Guitar Tuner?

Yes, you can tune an autoharp with a guitar tuner.

There are a few things that you will need to do:

  • A guitar tuner
  • An autoharp
  • A pliers or a wrench
  • String (or chord) changes

Can You Use a Guitar Strap for an Autoharp?

Yes, you can use a guitar strap for an autoharp. However, it is not recommended to do so because it can damage the autoharp.

A guitar strap should only be used for guitars with a hard case or gig bag. The guitar strap should not be used if the autoharp does not have a hard case or gig bag.

The autoharp is a delicate instrument, and using a guitar strap can cause damage to it. This could result in cracks in the wood, loss of sound quality, and even damage to the strings.

What Size Is an Autoharp Tuning Wrench?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the size of an autoharp tuning wrench will vary depending on the make and model of the autoharp that you are working on. However, most autoharp tuning wrenches measure between 2-3/8″ and 3-1/4″ in diameter.


When tuning an autoharp, there are two things to keep in mind. First, you should never tune the strings while they’re under tension because it will cause them to buzz and sound out of tune. Secondly, since tuners can’t be expected on every instrument, you’ll need a way to get your instrument into a perfect pitch without one!

Luckily for us non-professional musicians who don’t’ have access to expensive tools like these wrenches, we know how to use household items around our house or yard to do just that.

You may find yourself looking for something with a hole in the center or something flat so that you can place it across the strings at different intervals. So after reading this blog post you now have some idea of how to tune an autoharp without a tuning wrench. Let us know if we can help you any further!

Jennifer Branett
We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

DIY Quickly