If you are like me, for most of your life you thought of the autoharp as a fake instrument for nursery school teachers and people who are too lazy to learn guitar.
My opinion began to change when I saw a Johnny Cash tribute on TV (not the recent one, but a 1999 TBS one) on which June Carter Cash--70 years old and gorgeous--sang "Ring Of Fire" and accompanied herself on the autoharp. I got more interested when I read Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone? and learned that Sara Carter played the autoharp. I decided I would get one, especially since I hate playing electronic keyboards and that was my only possible accompaniment when I lead music activities at school or Scouts. Then I found out that autoharps are really, really expensive. In the meantime I realized that schoolkids and Scouts don't know or care if you are playing D, G and A7 (works better than C, F and G7 for my voice and hands) on every song and I started trundling the guitar around.
I didn't forget about the autoharp, though--it has a special sound that's different from a guitar and it really has a place in Appalachian music, which interests me. (I also have a yen to learn mandolin but talk about expensive. A friend of ours bought a cheap mandolin and warned me away.) So I mentioned it to a friend who is a music minister and she said her church had a closet full of autoharps gathering dust. I got one on permanent loan. The only problem was it was really, really out of tune. I tried tuning it with every socket wrench head in the basement, and then with a combination of pliers and a crescent wrench. Painful and not entirely successful. The autoharp sat in the corner of the sunroom for a couple of years.
And then last week I thought, there has to be a tool for this. Froogle search for "autoharp tuning tool" turned one up at an Amazon affiliate for $2.99. Of course it should be a national law that one of these tuning wrenches is inside every autoharp case but what can you do?
So now my autoharp is tuned and I am practicing strums and singing "This Land Is Your Land," "Who Knows Where I'm Going," "Good Night Irene" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" Only 6 years after the first vague stirring of autoharp lust.
If there's something you need to move your life forward, do me a favor and find out if it only costs $2.99 plus shipping. You'll be glad you did.