What is a Kalimba?
It’s an African thumb piano which produces a calming, rhythmic sound using metal tines attached to the soundboard. It’s a member of the lamellophone family. This Kalimba produces complex harmonics hence having a distinct sound.
They are frequently handcrafted and have between 5 and 21 keys. It has two layers of lamellas and can cover a broader range, using it as a bass accompaniment.
The metal tines are installed atop a hollow box in that an acoustic guitar body resonates and amplifies sound. Modern Kalimbas are tuned to a diatonic scale, which means there are no sharps or flats.
Important Things to Consider
How Many Keys does the Kalimba have?
Before you begin, decide how many keys you want on your kalimba. Many Kalimbas have 17 keys programmed to a different tone/key (Standard tuning in the Key of C). Remembering that a kalimba has a limited number of keys/tines means you only have a limited number of chords.
You can perform more tunes on your thumb piano and have more musical flexibility when you have more chords. Of course, the more keys your kalimba has, the larger it is. Consider a kalimba with fewer keys, mainly if size and portability are important factors.
Close Proximity or Extensively Spaced?
Many people fail to notice the space between the kalimba’s keys/tines. If you have large fingers like mine, playing on a kalimba with closely spaced fingers can be difficult.
This is especially important if your playing style necessitates precise plucking. When playing a thumb piano, you must pay close attention to your finger spacing because precision is essential. It’s critical to consider your playing style when purchasing a Kalimba.
This is especially true if your songs require you to strum on multiple keys at once. Kalimbas with closely spaced tines, on the other hand, are typically made of pure wood. Our kalimba recommendations will assist you in selecting the best kalimba for you now that you know what you want.
Dense Wood or Unfilled Body
This means that the keys on pure wood kalimbas are closer together, and thus the sound isn’t as resonant. You can “strum” in multiple keys at the same time, creating chords as you go. This is because, as previously stated, hollow body kalimbas frequently include a soundhole that increases the volume of your instrument’s sound.
When compared to their pure wood counterparts, keys and tins are typically more widely spread out. These are ideal for playing songs that require a lot of picking. Spaced-apart keys allow you to play with greater precision, resulting in fewer errors.
Stickers or Inscribed Chords and Figures
If your Kalimba requires additional assistance, we recommend this, but you want to keep the aesthetics tidy. Each kalimba key/tine has its chord, which is very useful. Similar to the stickers used by piano students to label the keys as they learn. You can do the same thing with kalimbas.
Some keyboards have the chord names inscribed on the keys, so keep that in mind before proceeding. Chord names etched on kalimbas are highly recommended. They are more appealing and require less upkeep.
However, as you continue to play your kalimba, you may notice that the stickers begin to peel off. You’ll be glad you spent the extra money for a kalimba with etched chord names in the end.
These are the Best Kalimba Options in 2021
GECKO Kalimba 17 Keys Thumb Piano
- Handheld kalimba instrument (or finger/thumb piano) for music learning, impromptu jam...
- Easy for kids and adults to learn and play; lightweight and portable
- Ore steel keys with curved tips for comfortable playability and a vibrant...
This beautifully crafted Kalimba by Gekka is an excellent all-around choice for players of all skill levels. In this Gecko Kalimba, mahogany wood and metal steel bars provide customers with a better sense of hearing, vision, and touch. Many people are surprised and impressed by how well this kalimba performs for its price.
Although this Kalimba comes tuned in C, the tuning hammer included by Gecko allows you to change the key. It has good resonance and a large volume as a result of the soundhole. This kalimba produces a rich, bright tone. As a result, the thumb piano comes with a lovely protective case that keeps it safe from damage, humidity, scratches, and so on. When traveling with your instrument, the case makes it much easier to transport it.
The chord names aren’t written in the keys/tines. That’s all there is to it. These stickers are great for beginners, but this bundle may not be for you if you want a visually appealing Kalimba. So don’t let this one thing deter you. You can permanently remove the stickers once you’ve gotten to know your Gecko Kalimba.
Gecko has demonstrated that a high-quality kalimba does not have to cost more than $100. Again, their thumb piano is well worth the price and would make an excellent gift for anyone. In addition to the kalimba, the instrument comes with a comprehensive self-study guide and an attractively displayed tool.
The GECKO Kalimba 17 Keys Thumb Piano can be purchased from www.ubuy.co
If you’re on a tighter budget, you might want to consider the following option. The quality remains high, and it is constructed with the same materials. The keys are made of manganese steel, and there are 17 western tuned notes from C-E to allow the user to learn how to play with or without musical experience. Red and green stickers are available to assist the visually impaired for as long as they are required.
The body is made of mahogany, with carved details on the soundhole that are more elaborate and larger than standard sound-hole inlays. It also has a lovely stained finish in a variety of colors. It is not only less expensive than the other two, but it also includes a tuning hammer, a soft carrying pouch, a cleaning cloth, and rubber thumb protection.
In addition, the producers have included a guidebook to assist newcomers in getting started. If you’re looking for a low-cost Kalimba with a solid mahogany top, this is the one for you! It’s an excellent entry-level option for people who have never played the kalimba before, and it comes with a nice set of accessories.
The UNOKKI Kalimba can be purchased from buyxpress.com
Apelila 17 Key Kalimba
If you want something a little brighter, consider an Apelila Kalimba. Various colors and shapes are available, some with themed sound-holes such as ballerinas or guitar pick-shaped holes. Despite their differences, their construction and functionality remain the same.
They are made of mahogany and are loaded with 17 carbon steel keys tuned to C. Most top sellers on the market today are significantly more expensive than these, and their diverse range of styles makes them an excellent gift option.
They include, among other things, a tuning hammer, thumb protectors, stickers, a velvet carry pouch, and a small user’s manual. It’s a must-have for any musician, a well-made Kalimba with various designs and a vibrant tone. They are an excellent value, make perfect gifts for children, and sound fantastic.
The Apelila 17 Key Kalimba perhster.com
JDR 17 Keys Kalimba
This next kalimba has 17 keys, which appears to be standard for westernized kalimbas. It has excellent acoustic properties because it is rigid but flexible and carved from solid mahogany. It is handcrafted, as are the other instruments in the lineup, and has an intricate inlay around the sound-hole, which is a little smaller than some on the market but still produces a fantastic sound.
The Gecko, on the other hand, comes with green and red sticker decals to make learning a little easier and more visual. It also comes with a detailed booklet with a few song arrangements to get you started right away, as well as an EVA case and a tuning hammer. This Kalimba’s tongues are of high quality, and the sound is clear. It is less expensive than the Gecko and comes with a similar package.
The JDR 17 Keys Kalimba can be purchased from www.ubuy.co
EASTROCK Kalimba 17 Keys Thumb Piano
The best kalimba for the money is EASTROCK’s 17-key thumb piano. This 17-key kalimba is handcrafted from mahogany wood and is one of the most popular kalimbas for beginners. Although this thumb piano is the most affordable option on our list, the finish is so lovely that you’d never guess it was on a budget.
Eastrock did an excellent job engraving chord names on each kalimba key, knowing that many customers in this price range are likely to be beginners. The natural air-dried mahogany veneer lends a crisp and sweet sound to this thumb piano. This kalimba’s solid wood and box design enhances its resonance, creating a “melodic and lasting” effect as you play.
This instrument is just as durable as other options despite its lightweight. This kalimba is a joy to hold due to its hand-polished and curved edges. It comes with a tuning hammer for making adjustments. Overall, this is an excellent option for those looking for an inexpensive way to learn how to play kalimba while saving money.
The EASTROCK Kalimba 17 Keys Thumb Piano can be purchased from www.ubuy.com
MOOZICA 21 Keys Solid Koa Kalimba
Without a doubt, this is a superior thumb piano with more keys than the Moozica. Kalimba is constructed from a single piece of Koa wood and featuring a solid wood board design. Therefore, it makes the warm and rich sound of the Koa wood body, while its solid design allows for better expression of higher pitches, as do Moozica’s 17-key kalimbas.
This solid-wood kalimba produces a softer sound than hollow-body kalimbas, but the tone it makes is melodic and pure. You won’t have to worry about the 21 keys on LingTing’s piano with this thumb piano from Moozica. We can use F3 to E6 to play. Moozica had chords engraved on each tine with beginners in mind.
This helps new players get to know their kalimba while keeping it clean and easy to maintain for more experienced players. Despite being heavier than other options due to its higher wood density, this thumb piano holds a direct and complete vibration when playing. Everything comes with handy extras like a hard case to protect your kalimba, a tuning hammer, finger guards, and music scale stickers to make life easier.
Moozica 17 Keys Kalimba Marimba
To spice up your Kalimba purchase, check out Moozica’s 17-key thumb pianos. Moozica’s 17-key Kalimba is available in four different color/wood combinations. There are two types of koa kalimbas available: one made of Acacia Koa wood and the other of koa and spiky wood. Mahogany is used in the second and third choices, with one, in particular, having a deep blue hue.
In terms of sound, Koa wood has a warmer and richer tone, whereas Mahogony wood has a brighter and more precise tone. Several owners stated that the tone quality was excellent across the board, from high to low. However, you can always fine-tune the tuning to meet your specific requirements.
These kalimbas are labeled with chord names and numbers, making them ideal for beginners. These Moozica Kalimbas are ideal for players of all skill levels, thanks to their sturdy construction and high-quality tone, and they’re also reasonably priced. Despite their apparent focus on beginners, even advanced kalimba players can appreciate the quality and tone of these thumb pianos.
The Moozica 17 Keys Kalimba Marimba can be purchased from www.walmart.com
Rain Whisperer Kalimba by LingTing
This is ideal for players looking for a Kalimba with extra keys. The LingTing LT-K21W Rain Whisperer Kalimba is an excellent choice for both beginners and advanced players. This thumb piano is made of the finest black walnut wood and has a pure and heavenly tone. It’s is a pure wood instrument with a gentler resonance than a hollow body Kalimba.
This kalimba has 21 keys and is tuned in the key of F. With 21 keys, you have more musical experimentation options and can perform more songs. This Kalimba comes with a tuning hammer so you can tune it to your musical needs. Keep in mind that the keys/tins will be closer to you. This is ideal for playing songs that require strumming in multiple keys at the same time.
You must rely on syllable stickers symbols to determine which chord each key is because keys lack chord. LingTing’s Rain Whisperer Kalimba is our top pick. They go to great lengths to ensure that their Kalimbas are of the highest quality in construction and sound.
The Rain Whisperer Kalimba by LingTing can be purchased from www.ubuy.com
We can improve this one’s utility and comfort with a few minor tweaks. Koa, another inexpensive tonewood commonly used for low-cost guitars, was used to handcraft this guitar. It was hand-picked and dried naturally in the air. A smoothed cutaway hand rests on either side of the box to provide a more comfortable grip when playing with your thumbs. A lovely hand-painted decal adorns the sound-hole rim.
It has 17 steel-ore solid tines and learner stickers in green and red to help users identify their thumb placement. Aside from the instruction manual, it comes with an excellent portable travel case and a tuning hammer. The smooth hand rests, and an air-dried finish distinguish this koa kalimba. The hand rests allow those with shorter fingers to extend their fingers out while keeping their palms calm.
The Newlam KalimbaKey Kalimba can be purchased from www.kit.co
Donner 17 Key Kalimba
Donner’s second discount offer, which consistently undercuts competitors. Mahogany trapezoid kalimba has slight bends to provide hand rests. It appears to be well-made and long-lasting having 17 steel tongues engraved with diatonic scales and numbers and is pre-tuned.
A simple decor piece surrounds the soundhole, and it’s a fantastic, cost-effective alternative for those on the fence about purchasing a kalimba. In addition, they sell a 10-note bass version for around $20. It’s simple to transport and use, with a carrying pouch, tuning tool, and user manual included for easy reference.
This is an excellent first instrument because of its low price and simple decorative appearance. Even though it does not come with a case, it is just as well-made as more expensive options.
The Donner 17 Key Kalimba can be purchased from www.ubuy.co
- Package in : Kalimba + Book + instructions + tune hammer + red and green stickers +...
- Material: [body: Solid Mahogany Wood] + [keys: Carbon Steel]
- International standard C tune: 1(D), 2(B), 3(G), 4(E), 5(C5), 6(A), 7(F), 8(D),...
Another well-made budget option is this Luvay model, which is reasonably priced and has a sturdy trapezoid construction. It is made of high-quality mahogany, and the soundhole is embellished with beautiful artistic elements. It’s also machine-made, but it’s of high quality. This is another 17-key kalimba tuned to a different system in this case.
Each key is made of reinforced steel that has been bent to make it easy to grip with your thumbs. It comes with a drawstring bag and a soft travel case with a shoulder strap and optional red and green stickers to help beginners practice their craft.
In addition to the tuning hammer and cleaning cloth, a music book with some sample tunes to learn is included. Luvay is a well-made bag with a shoulder bag that is surprisingly affordable. This is another low-cost option with a less juvenile style.
The Helesin Kalimba, another outstanding example, joins the list of affordable westernized kalimbas. It is solidly built from Koa wood and has a beautiful tone and a distinct wood grain pattern that makes it stand out. It also has 17 strong tines with a screw locking system to keep them in the key for long periods.
They are marked with notes and numbers and bent to make playing them more accessible. It comes with a tuner hammer, cleaning cloth, thumb protection, and a cotton purse to keep it safe. It’s made of Koa wood and has a pleasant tone and locking system. It’s another excellent kalimba alternative to consider, thanks to its exquisite construction and locking system.
The Helesin Kalimba can be purchased from www.walmart.ca
This one has a solid wood body that has been hollowed out and reinforced. It has a bear-shaped soundhole and is tuned in standard C. If you don’t mind looking a little silly, the kalimba’s main body’s circular shape provides better acoustics than any of the other kalimbas we’ve chosen.
Aklot also offers a trapezoidal form, but we thought we’d try something a little different for today’s reviews. There are 17 steel tongue keys with a great ring and tone included. The watertight EVA case is padded and contoured to fit around the curvature of the piece.
Cleaning cloths for the tuning hammers and a beginner’s handbook and stickers are included on the inside. It has a sturdy design and a high-quality case, making it an excellent choice for young students. It’s well-made and, with the bear motif, would make an excellent beginner’s instrument.
The Aklot Kalimba can be purchased from aklot.com
Kithouse offers two different kalimba styles: simple, modest inlay and an eye-catching mandala design. A real mahogany soundboard improves audibility and produces a richer tone. A carbon steel key set with 17 C to E keys has been incorporated into the design, adding strength and sound vibration.
Although the soft case isn’t as tough as the EVA case, it’s still extremely well made and protects the instrument from knocks and scratches while allowing good portability during transit. Both the tuning hammer and the soft case are of high quality. The tongues have been imprinted with notes and numbers in addition to the green and red stickers.
This kalimba stands out due to its beautiful design and high-quality construction. It also includes an optional shoulder strap and a flannel-lined carry case. It’s one of the best options available; it’s inexpensive and comes with a tremendous soft carry case. Despite the lack of learning resources, it contains a few essentials, and we like the mandala style.
The Kithouse Kalimba can be purchased from www.ubuy.ca
Tuning Your Kalimba
Kalimbas are set to a specific key. The majority of thumb pianos are tuned to the key of C, but one can adjust the pitch with a tuning hammer.
How to play the kalimba?
- To play the modern kalimba, hold the enclosure in your hands, gripping it with your fingers while leaving your thumbs free to move.
- To play, pluck the tongues with your thumb in a downward motion, one thumb on each side of the instrument.
- The kalimba box has two small sound holes on the back that one can cover with the fingers to change the resonance and tonal qualities.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Kalimba?
- There are 17 keys in the internationally recognized key of C on modern kalimbas, all of which are roughly the same size and shape.
- Would you mind taking a look at the mahogany and Koa models we’ve highlighted? Some low-cost guitars are made of laminated plywood, which does not resonate with solid wood.
- One should curl the tongues for long-term use (most are). A perfectly straight tongue can cause thumb injuries.
- The tines of a tuning hammer can move and change pitch over time due to constant thumbing. The higher the pitch, the more tines move in a short period, and the lower the pitch, the longer the pitch.
- A tuning hammer is essential for keeping your tongue in check. You can use a tuning app to fine-tune it, but it takes some time to tap at either end, depending on how sharp or flat the keys sound.