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Germania Harp & Relatives Germania Harp
Symphony Harp
Harpanola
Aeolian Harp
Sonora Harp
Harp-Guitar-Zither
American-Italian harp

 

fretless zithers >
plucked instruments >
Germania harp family

The common features of this group are the scant departure from simple rectangular body outline, the accompaniment and melody strings being situated on two different levels of height off the instrument's face, and the shorter group of strings exiting out the instrument's back side (the accompaniment strings, in all cases except the harp-guitar-zither).

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Germania
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Germania harp

Germania harp

The Germania Harp is not the definitive instrument of this group. I selected its name as the generic type only because it is probably the most frequently encountered one of this type. But any one of them could have been the original prototype for this branch of the instrument family displayed here.

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Germania
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symphony harp

symphony harp

It looks as though the symphony harp may be identical to the Germania in all but name. It has 6 chords. The melody sections of the Germania, the symphony, and the harp-guitar-zither below are unique among fretless zithers in that they have 2 accidentals per octave, rather than the usual 1, 3, or 5 (fully chromatic.) The labelling of the one pictured identifies it as a Model No. 5. There may be other models.

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Germania
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harpanola

harpanola

The Harpanola is larger and has more chords (7) and more melody strings (25, fully chromatic) than the Symphony and Germania, but is functionally identical in regard to its melody and accompaniment strings being at two different levels.

harpanolas, left to right:

1. This one has the stencil soundboard logo. Original packaging revealed that this instrument was ordered from Montgomery Ward around 1930. Its condition is pristine.

2. And this one has the "organ font" soundboard logo. Otherwise it is identical to the other one pictured.

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Germania
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Aeolian harp

Aeolian harp

Yet another variety is the Aeolian harp. As is typical of these types, some of the chords span about the usual 4-string range of the chord-zither, ukelin, etc., but some of the chords have a few or even several additional strings and thus cover a considerably broader range.

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Germania
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sonora harp

sonora harp

The Sonora Harp has the largest number of strings of these instruments, at a total of 76. This instrument has chords with one string tuned to a major 3rd note and another tuned to the minor. One of these strings is "high" (at the same level of height as the rest of the strings of the chord, and thus accessible) at the head end and "low" (below the level of the other strings of the chord, and thus inaccessible) at the tail end. The other of the two is vice-versa, low at the head end, high at the tail. So you choose between the major or minor version of the chord by simply playing at the end where the corresponding string is high.

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Germania
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Aeolian harp

harp-guitar-zither

The harp-guitar-zither has 4 chords and 19 melody strings. It is configured in reverse of the instruments above, in that it has the melody strings at the higher level and the accompaniment strings at the lower. In fact, this zither would accommodate a left-handed player nicely. Another feature unique to this instrument is the perforated bridge, which accommodates "sharping cams" (white arrows in photo).

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Germania
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American-Italian harp

American-Italian harp

The big brother of the harp-guitar-zither, the "American-Italian harp" is another left-handed zither. It has 6 chords and a fully chromatic 25-string melody section. The accompaniment strings of both this instrument and the harp-guitar-zither travel their length through the inside the body cavity and are visible through the sound hole. Both are products of the Phonoharp Company.

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