Music

Jawharps

Clayton Bailey expands on the classic boinging-twang of the jaw harp with myriad handmade brass variations. Take for instance, the Gunharp –

Gunharp

What do you get when you graft a jaw harp to a deer rifle? You get a very accurate jaw harp called a Gun Harp. You can brace it against your shoulder, point it and pluck it very accurately – with pinpoint precision. It sends an irresistible call into the wild to flush out humans or animals.

The Gunharp has been used by Hodag hunters in Northern Wisconsin, USA. When played correctly, it is said to imitate the mating call of the female Hodag . For this reason, a Hodag in heat is said to be in “Boing”.

Check out more including the “Universal Jawsaphone” – The jews harp and the jawsaphone (Thanks, Erica!)

12 thoughts on “Handmade jaw harp collection

  1. These are called Jew’s Harps. Those of us who were raised around Bluegrass music really appreciate the way the political correctness worshipers have bent way over backwards trying not to offend Jews with regard to the Jew’s Harp, but that IS what they are called and we Jewish folks are not the least bit offended; in fact Southern Jews are proud of our Jew’s Harps as well as our Confederate Veteran forefathers who took them off to play, during the War for Southern Independence.

    The Jew’s Harp is over four hundred years old. It is called a Jew’s Harp in many languages, however in old Germany it became known as a “mouth drum” (loosely interpreted). It definitely is not a Jaw’s harp nor is it a “juice” harp, unless it is being played by a slobber mouth.

  2. I see where you’re coming from – note that I did print “jews harp” in the article. I myself am accustomed to referring to the instrument as a Jaw Harp or Mouth Harp, and I have heard Jew’s Harp as well :)

    Curious – any idea where the ‘Jew’ part of the name originates?

  3. Thanks for posting this amazing gallery link. I’ve been collecting harps since I was a kid, but I’ve never seen these add-ons before.

  4. The OED has it that:

    [T]he attribution of the instrument to the Jews occurs, so far as is known, only in English, and there is no actual evidence as to its origin.

    It dates the term (and its relative “Jews’ Trump”) back to the sixteenth century.

    There’s a folk etymology (unsupported AFAIK) that the name derives originally from “jaws harp”, so people using this term may be doing so out of a sense of pedantry rather than a desire to avoid offence.

  5. It’s not PC, just miseducated. Jews have nothing to do with the instrument besides the fact that they sold a ton of them while the wondered the country side making money off folks, a time honored tradition amongst the Jews.
    As an earlier comment stated, “jews trump” roughly translated means TOY TRUMPET. The most likely origin of the name.
    Nothing to do with Semites.
    Educate yourself.

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