When I was a kid I was gifted a Jew's harp. I never formally learned to play it (and also didn't learn to play other instruments, so my knowledge on music theory and on instruments is very limited). I'm not sure I played it the way it's supposed to be played. I always produced the (to my ears) best sound when the harp lay firmly connected to my teeth. But playing, the vibration of the metal was quite strong, even numbing in a way.

Does (correctly) playing the Jew's harp damage the teeth?

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    Disclaimer: I have NO IDEA. But it looks like, no, doing it right can be safe (while clearly, doing it wrong might not be). I strongly suspect that having it contact your teeth seems much more resonant to you because it's sending vibrations right through your skull, but I wonder whether it really matters to the sound transmitted to the listener. My takeaway from the link above is "start learning with a weak reed and take it easy." Oct 10, 2021 at 0:01
  • If the reed is not at the resonant frequency of your teeths you're probably fine. The bad thing is that you don't know this frequency until you reach it and shatter your teeths. The good thing is that a shattered (smaller) teeth will have a higher frequency hence, after the first shatter you know that you're safe by playing Jew's harp work a lower pitch ;).
    – Tom
    Oct 10, 2021 at 16:51
  • @Tom Is... is that how Jews-harpists usually find out? Or is that conjecture?
    – user45266
    Oct 11, 2021 at 5:50

1 Answer 1


The Jew's harp is supposed to lie against the front of the teeth; not bitten down on. Another recommendation is to (primarily) pluck the reed inwards (this reduces the chance of pulling the frame off of the teeth); c.f. How To Avoid Damaging Your Teeth while Playing the Jaw Harp

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