Introduction: How to Play the Jews Harp

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Learn how to play the Jews harp in no time!

Step 1: Holding the Jews Harp

Picture of Holding the Jews Harp

Start out by holding the Jews harp with the "L" curved part facing away from you. This works best if you point it at a small dog or cat or even another person.

Now, grip the edge of the rounded end firmly with your index finger and your thumb like in the second picture. You do not want it to slip or move at all so apply about the same pressure as if your were Vulcan neck pinching someone.

Make sure the no part of your hand or fingers are touching the thin piece of metal in the center, because it has to vibrate freely.

Step 2: Positioning Your Mouth

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Place your top teeth on the upper half of the top bar and your bottom teeth on the lower half of the bottom bar. Make sure that your teeth create a space between them to allow the middle part to vibrate.
If your harp slips up or down while your plucking it,the vibrating middle part could hit your teeth and that can be painful.

Now slide your teeth out to the open end of the bars so there is a space between the corner of your mouth and the end of the bars. This will make the sound a lot louder.

Now hold the harp firmly against your teeth. This is important because when you pluck the middle part it will make the whole thing vibrate and if it's not tight against your teeth it could give you whiplash and possibly damage your frontal lobe.

Now let your lips relax and rest on the bars.

Step 3: Changing the Tone

Picture of Changing the Tone

Now pluck the middle part and shape the inside of your mouth like your saying "Oh".

Once you get that, pluck it again and change your mouth like your saying "Eee".

You can make "Boing" sounds be changing between "Oh" and "Eee" quickly.

Now try Breathing in and out through your mouth in rhythm to your strumming and it will change the sound a little.

Now experiment and have fun!!

Step 4:

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TorBoy9 (author)2013-05-25

Short and to the point, with excellent photos and sufficient text. Well written and I learned how to play the harp, sort of. A great 'ible!

billytwix (author)2009-06-30

I went to the link to purchase one and all they had were jaw harps. they didn't have any jew's harps.

They call them "Jaw"harps to be politically correct but they were originally called "Jews"harps. Hey thanks for the comment!

Why were they called Jews harps?

Because they were created and played in Israel. Most people think that cowboys made them but that is not there true origin.

Actually, theres no specific reason there called Jews harps, and they weren't created in Israel, they don't realy have any exact origins because they came from all different places in all sorts of shapes and materials. 'Jews Harp' can refer to many different musical instruments that are placed to the mouth and plucked with a finger. At least I think thats what I read. Try:  and
Also, they come tuned if you buy the expensive ones, I've only ever gotten the the cheap snoopy harps, and somtimes you have to bend them into playing shape, and I did have one break on me. 

ara (author)2009-10-11

Hi! This is an ancient folk instrument in Romania, is named "drâmbå". I have recently buyed one to learn to play, but i'm confused. Is not dangerous to put it on teeth (because o vibrations)? Thanks in advance!

Bisquick the ninja (author)ara2009-10-15

The only thing that is dangerous is if it slips or if you position itwrong causing the middle part to hit your teeth.  Other than thatit shouldn't cause any damage.

Thanks for the comment!

Actually, it hurts if you snap yourself on the knuckles.
Twang! "Ouch!" 

pogoman12345 (author)2009-07-07

im no trying to be mean or anything but that is the worst jaw harp in the world there called a snoopy harp and they sound terrible

Mine sounds just like the one they use at the beginning of "Steamboat Willie" the Disney cartoon which sounds great. You prolly just got a bad one.

I agree with you because I have that same one and it sounds just fine

bushkiwi (author)2009-08-17

Thank you : ) These are very clear & helpful instructions!

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