How to Buy a Quality Jew’s Harp

Written by  on December 26, 2015 

A range to aim for is somewhere between $15 and $100.

How to Find a Quality Mouth Harp

Tracking down a mouth harp with reasonable playability and tone can be a challenge. In Eastern Europe and Russia, theyve got quite a long tradition of making really nice jaw harps, Berry remarks. You can spend as much as four hundred US dollars on a jaw harp over there.”

Most people relegate the jaw harp to the rhythm section, but as Berry explains, the tiny instruments can get melodic with just a little practice. First, the jaw harps tongue needs to be parallel with the bars of the frame–the less accurate the positioning of the tongue, the fuzzier the tone. There are people who have been making them for quite a few generations. You can sing through them and break the note up with a harmonic. You can breathe through it to get a tremolo effect. Comparing many mouth harps will allow a musician to get a feel for picking the instruments with the clearest tones.

How to Find a Jews Harp in the Right Key

The majority of Jews harps arent tuned to a particular key. No matter how a musician accentuates overtones to create different pitches, the fundamental drone will always be present.

The instruments simplicity may make forking out 20 bucks seem extreme. They resonate in different sinus cavities, so where you put your tongue, and how open your mouth is can take you from a pretty high pitched sound down to a low sound. Contrary to what musicians may think when confronted with the glut of $5 mouth harps, quality Jews harp playing really does require a quality Jews harp.

There are a few basic criteria to separate the instruments from the junk. This works fine when a musician is playing around on his own, but if he wants to join in with a jam, his Jews harps key is an important consideration.

On the bright side, beginners can pick up a nice mouth harp for a lot less than most other musical instruments. Its just one of those sounds I guess.

Unfortunately, this novelty appeal has all but relegated mouth harps to the realm of musical trinkets and toys. Recently its been making appearances in genres such as rock, pop, and alternative as well. Second, the tongue should be attached properly at the joint to prevent poor tone.

In related articles musicians can:

Read about the dan moithe traditional mouth harp of Southeast Asia.Find tips on how to play the Jews harp.Discover how a Jews harp player uses harmonics to create melody.Quotes obtained through conversation with Ron Berry, February 2010.VRS101

Even when playing simple rhythmic accompaniment, musicians need to be mindful of their jaw harps key.

The Jews harp, also known as the mouth harp, jaw harp, and trump, has found its niche in folk music from every part of the world. A clunk or no sound at all will indicate poor sustain. That note is the fundamental. Ron Berry, a mouth harp player and instrument maker from Australia, describes their appeal this way, You can pick them up and get a sound out of them straight away. They can determine the key by plucking the tongue and using a tuner to check the pitch. For a bit of bass, you can drop your Adams apple to let the sound resonate in your esophagus. Given the Jews harps appeal, its surprising that finding a well-made Jews harp can present such a challenge.

How to Find a Jews Harp Thats More Than Just a Toy

Jews harps are one of those novelty instruments that cant help bringing a smile. Theres quite a broad range of sounds you can get with them, he says. The fact is, a quality mouth harp has a lot of tweaking going on behind the scenes. I like to play them at the market and watch peoples eyes go wide as they walk past. Putting these effects together into a nice rhythm and using the overtones to make melodies is where it starts getting musical.

To check a mouth harps sound before purchase, a musician can pluck the tongue near his ear. Its a good bet the mouth harps readily available at music stores arent worth the money.

Max Lyons

Max Lyons

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Max Lyons

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