Jaw Harp

The musical sounds of the jaw harp are undeniably unique and an interesting instrument to add to your musical repertoire. Learning how to play the mouth harp is not as difficult as you may think!

The Jaw Harp (also known as the Jew’s harp, juice harp or mouth harp) is a small handheld instrument played with the mouth and finger.

The jaw harp consists of a small metal U-shape body and a rod that is flicked with the finger to produce sound.

young woman learn to play the jaw harp
photo credit: https://www.afcent.af.mil/News/Art/igphoto/2000109360/

What does the Jaw Harp sound like?

The jaw harp produces a “twangy” sound by plucking and manipulating a metal tongue and altering the shape of your mouth to achieve various tones.

Rather than try to find the perfect words to describe the jaw harp sound, we recommend checking out the video below. Listen to hear the sounds that can be achieved by playing this unique and dynamic instrument.

Here is a great introduction video, highlighting various tones that can be produced by the Jaw Harp:

video credit: Bebbcorp Harpery

A Brief History of the Jaw Harp

Little is known of the exact origins and history of the jaw harp or “jew’s harp”. Jaw harps have been found in various forms across the centuries and across the world from many different cultures.

The jaw harp is an international instrument that is likely to have originated in Asia and subsequently ventured into Europe, sometime during the 13th century. 

For a more in-depth look at the history and origins and how to learn to play the jaw harp follow the link below: http://www.silkroadfoundation.org/newsletter/vol2num2/Harp.htm

painting of man, learn to play the jaw harp
photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dirck_van_Baburen_-_Young_man_with_jew%27s_harp_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Where can I buy a jaw harp?

Unlike harmonicas, Jaw harps may be few and far between at local music shops. That said, there are many different options available online. Most jaw harps include a decorative case as an added bonus.

If you want to learn to play the jaw harp, we recommend this quality mid-range jaw harp, perfect for beginning hobbyists:

Check out our unboxing and demonstration of a beginners jaw harp here:

Looking for an excellent resource to learn more about the jaw harp?

Check out theharpery.com for professional grade tutorials, a wide variety of jaw harps to purchase and thorough history of this unique instrument.

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Looking for more musical hobbies and quirky instruments? Check out our list of 12 weird instruments and try one today!