The jug as a musical instrument reached its height of popularity in the 1920s, when jug bands, such as Cannon's Jug Stompers were popular.
The eponymous jug is just that: an empty jug (usually made of glass or stoneware) played with the mouth. With an embouchure like that used for a brass instrument, the musician holds the mouth of the jug about an inch from his or her mouth and emits a blast of sound, made by a "buzzing" of the lips, directly into it. The jug does not touch the musician's mouth, but serves as a resonating chamber to amplify and enrich the sound made by the musician's lips. Changes in pitch are controlled by loosening or tightening the lips. An accomplished jugplayer might have a two octave range.
The jug is primarily an acoustic instrument, although amplified and "electric jugs" appear from time to time, and have even been used as musical props (such as in the 1960s psychedelic band 13th Floor Elevators).
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