An autoharp is basically a zither with buttons you can depress the make chords. A staple of elementary-school teachers, autoharps allow even the most non-musical among us to lead a singalong, although the instrument has also been played by numerous members of the Carter family, John Sebastian, and Joni Mitchell.

Like the harmonica, the autoharp was patented by someone who is generally not considered to be its real inventor. In the case of the autoharp, a Philadelphia inventor named George Zimmermann filed a patent for an autoharp in 1882, but his design was inferior to one by a German named Karl August Gütter, whose Volkszither was patented in 1883. Indeed, when Zimmermann started manufacturing autoharps in 1885, he kept his invention’s name but incorporated Gütter’s design, which allowed users to play multiple chords at the same time.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Music Museum

National Music Museum

The National Music Museum, which is located at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, features 15,000 instru… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Perfect Clean Oscar Schmidt 21 Cord Autoharp Zither, Ready To PlayPerfect Clean Oscar Schmidt 15 Cord Autoharp Zither, Ready To PlayVintage Oscar Schmidt Silvertone 15 Key Autoharp - 36 StringsVintage Oscar Schmidt 21 Chord Auto Harp In Soft Case With Wrench Omnichord Om-27 Suzuki L70157-717Oscar Schmidt Autoharp 36 String / 15 Chord (15 Ebh/r)Antique 1920's Marxochime Marx Violin Uke Autoharp Guitar Colony Zither15" Ukrainian 11-string BanduraVintage Oscar Schmidt Autoharp 1940's Original With Case Very Good ConditionVintage Silvertone Autoharp By Oscar Schmidt 36-string With Case And AccessoriesChuck Margi Sudler Artisan Dollhouse Miniature Harp Mandolin Zither 1/12 MusicalAutoharpVintage Jubel Tone Zither West GermanyAntique Zither For PartsWooden Zither Nepenenoyka Lap Harp Made In Belarus #530Antique Pat 1894 Oscar Schmidt Zither Chickering Harp Special Niagara Model NjVintage Oscar Schmidt 12-chord Autoharp Model 12 Bh/rChromaharp Autoharp And CaseVintage Oscar Schmidt [silvertone] Autoharp 36 Strings W/case - As Is1960s Oscar Schmidt Autoharp Zither W/original Box + Registration Card Nr651# Oscar Schmidt Autoharp W/ Case - Unsure If Working ProperlyAutoharp Oscar Schmidt~ Repair Or PartsAntique ZitherVintage Oscar Schmidt Silvertone Autoharp Excellent 1960's L.a,calif.Hammered Dulcimer Hymns With Alisa Jones Mandolin Autoharp Dobro Violin GuitarChromaharp 15 Chord Autoharp With Case3 Felt Picks For Ukulele, Uke, Bass, Autoharp, Zithers *new!* Free Shipping!Suzuki Q Chord Molded Case For Digital Guitar Autoharp Synthesizer Case Alone