thought I would write a bit about caring for your jews harp. These notes are mainly for harps that are played against the teeth.
Jews harps are mostly made of metal and playing them puts quite a bit of moisture onto them so always dry them well with a cloth after playing. If not you may find rust develops on the blade or legs of the harp.
If rust occurs then clean it off with fine wire wool and use a little edible oil (corn, olive) to wipe across and dry off the excess, this will stop rust returning.
Try to avoid playing immeadiately after eating as food particles get trapped in the harp and can make rust worse or go mouldy!
Almost all metal 'teeth' played harps should be played by plucking the blade in towards the face. Plucking outwards will shorten the life of the blade and, unless very flexible, it will snap eventually.
Excessively fast or hard playing may bend the upright tang of the blade and this will change the pitch of the harp (lower). Do not attempt to bend it back without heating it to red and bending hot by using pliers otherwise it will easily snap off.
With these simple care methods you can make your favourite harp last years. I've had many of my harps for 10+ years and have never broken any.
If you have any repairs / alterations you feel you cannot make yourself please get in touch as I can repair and retune many types of jews harps.
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Jews harps (or jaw harps) are very under-valued small instruments!
They are relatively easy to play and are a sure-fire way to get some attention at any musical gathering.
There are two basic types of jews harp, as shown in the picture below:
The top harp is made of one piece and these get called 'dan moi'. They are playing in front of the mouth and do not need to touch the teeth.
They have great sound and harmonics and come in many sizes and varieties. Usually the smaller they are the higher the pitch, some of the larger ones can have great sustain.
The harp underneath is a more Western style 2-part harp. This one is made from brass. These style of harps need to be played with the harp pressed against the front teeth (never between them!). Many folks prefer the direct sound and volume they get from this style and harmonics can be amazing on better quality harps. See image below for correct playing position:
Choosing a harp:
Many folks start off with a cheaper dan moi. This is a good option if you want something quick and simple and do not need to play with others in key.
Dan moi can be great for 'techno' sounding fast rhythms and sound almost electronic. Larger ones can have great sustain and deeper tones.
I personally prefer to play western style harps against my teeth as I think I get much more control of the sound and harmonics. I also now prefer to play higher quality tuned harps that are available in most keys (notes) including sharps and flats. This really opens up the possibilities and means I can play along with just about any other instrument or a band and be in tune!
Check out the great range of tuned harps http://www.soundforhealth.com/collections/tuned-jews-harps
Something for most budgets!
I'll be writing more tips and sending out special deals so keep watching.
I recently bought one of these over the internet, without trying first, which was a risk, but one I'm quite glad I took. This instrument has an extensive range of keys and playing speeds, as well as the ability to drop down to a low A. I've always used traditional termite eaten instruments and had a style of playing which suited only certain keys and instruments,but with the new super slider, I've been able to achieve a whole lot more! The sound quality and back pressure is really good and I've even used this as an instrument of choice in the recording studio.
I would not swap mine for any of the other slider type didgeridoos on the market.