Original Schwarz-Jaw Harp - Quality since 1679

Then ...

Ludwig Schwarz, 1902 - 1979

Karl Schwarz, 1937 - 2002

Karl und Ludwig Schwarz
forging a Jaw Harp in the thirties

Now ...

Karl und Maria Schwarz

Michaela und Lisa Schwarz

Our history

In 1679, the Schwarz family in Molln began production of Jaw Harps. "For 13 generations, the company has been in continuous family ownership. By expanding the production assortment, we have been able to consolidate our market position to this day ", emphasizes company boss Karl Schwarz.

The Jaw Harp is considered an ancient folk instrument. Already Celts and Romans used this lovable musical instrument with the strange buzzing tones, which was used as a cult instrument for necromancy, for example, in primitive peoples.
In its original form of bamboo, the Jaw Harp is still widespread in Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Oceania.
The stronghold of the Jaw Harp can be found in the market town of Molln in Upper Austria.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, when the death penalty still existed, a woman named Barbara was to be burned at the stake.
However, the court pardoned all those who invented something that did not exist before. So this Barbara made a buzzing bamboo and wooden piece, from which she could elicit sounds, and awakened by the extraordinary sound the mildness of the judge, who then pardoned her.
Resourceful craftsmen took up this idea and began to produce the Jaw Harp made of iron and steel.
Concretely, the production of the Jaw Harp began in 1679 with the enactment of the Craftsmen's Order for Jaw Harp makers by Steyr. With this year, the history of the Jaw Harp in Upper Austria begins to become tangible. The fact that it was even necessary to seek order in the rule proves that there has been production and lively trade in Molln and the surrounding area for a long time.

In the following centuries, up to 40 masters in their family business with 200 employees produced several million pieces of Jaw Harps annually. The Jaw Harp was not made in workshops, but in the respective rooms.
It was customary for the whole family, including the children, to help and the room became a working and living place at the same time. Up to 36 handles were necessary to make a Jaw Harp, which was made exclusively by hand. There were no machines at the time.
Over time, manufacturing has been steadily streamlined. However, it still takes 12 steps to the finished Jaw Harp and half of these steps are pure handcraft.

As early as the 18th century, 60-70% of Jaw Harps were produced.
In today's "Bummerlhaus" on the town square in Steyr were the so-called "publishers" (today one would say wholesalers). These helped the Jaw Harp makers and distributed the goods across the rivers Enns and Danube and across the Black Sea into the whole world.

According to the stories, at the time all the lads had not only a pocket knife in their trouser pocket, but also a Jaw Harp. They played this with their beloved at the window. The girls could not resist the erotic sound of the Jaw Harp and opened the windows. At that time many single children were born. For this reason, in 1856 the Catholic Church, which had great power, forbade play with the Jaw Harp at the window under the threat of severe punishment. However, this ban lasted only 2 years.

At the end of the 19th century, the importance of the Jaw Harp decreased a bit and today only two families deal with the production of Jaw Harps. Including the company Schwarz from Molln, the last full-time manufacturer. Ludwig Schwarz, the grandfather of the current company owner Karl Schwarz, was the last guild director of this time-honored craftsmanship.
Dependence and political events such as wars or civil unrest led to many guild families becoming impoverished. The emergence of newer musical instruments and the rationalization of production methods also caused the abandonment of many former workshops - the Mollner Jaw Harps were made by hand in several family businesses until after the Second World War.

Today, the Schwarz family, as the oldest producing place, produces first-class Jaw Harps and besides tuned bells, okarinas, flexatones and panpipes, exports and values to more than 40 different countries worldwide.
The Jaw Harp is now used in folk and house music as well as in jazz as well as in modern music. That's why Schwarz has specialized in hand-held instruments. These Jaw Harps are hand-turned, fire-blued and provided with a special steel tongue. Similar to the Styrian harmonica, it is sanded or soldered at a certain spot to achieve the pure final mood.
With this method, it is possible to make the whole scale from high to low C including half tones.

The Original Schwarz Jaw Harp is a very mystical and unique-sounding tongue instrument that is loved by both young and old. Bring your Jaw Harp to sound and let it surprise you!

Order your Jaw Harp set here!