How to Play the Jews Harp




Learn how to play the Jews harp in no time!

Step 1: 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

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

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:

Participated in the
Art of Sound Contest



    • Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest
    • Fandom Contest

      Fandom Contest
    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest

    15 Discussions


    Tip 4 months ago on Step 3

    A quick additional tip: there are other ways to adjust the sound of the harp beyond the shape of the mouth and controlled breathing. You can also use the shape of the tongue to adjust the resonance of your mouth and, more impressively, you can produce a harsher, more 'growly' deep note by opening your throat. There's a lot you can get out of this instrument with a little experimentation!

    If you don't like the idea of having to hold a vibrating lump of metal against your teeth - and it does take a bit of getting used to, I will say - then I'd suggest starting with a Dan Moi. This is a Vietnamese form of Jews Harp like a little strip of brass, and it's held against the lips rather than the teeth. Otherwise it is played and sounds very similar.

    For those interested in a reasonable quality, affordable instrument, I'd recommend a Paval Potkin khomus. For a reliably loud sound, the Glazyrin vargans are good quality if you can get your hands on one. If you need a professional tuned harp you're better off seeking out a master.


    6 years ago on Step 4

    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!


    9 years ago on Introduction

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

    5 replies

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

    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. 


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    2 replies
    Bisquick the ninjaara

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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

    2 replies

    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.


    9 years ago on Step 3

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