The New 2B/9B, a 9-Note Kalimba with Buzzers
Plus New Thomas Bothe Tunings

2B Kalimbas

In Africa, all of the kalimbas have some sort of buzzers. The buzz is just a natural part of the kalimbasound. Here's the story I heard from B. Michael Williams: The kalimba's wood represents the earth, the metal tines represent all the living things on earth, and the buzzers represent the voices of the ancestral spirits. Every action that living things undertake evokes approval or disapproval from the ancestors, hence their buzzing voices chime in with every note.

There are many different ways of making the buzzing sound, and the method which Thomas Bothe used on this kalimba model - a small diameter metal rod with several tiny metal rings on it - produces a very pleasing buzz sound.

This is a tiny little kalimba - just 2 inches by 3.5 inches, slightly narrower but longer than the 2B/9 kalimba without the buzzers. The narrower body has only two embedded magnets and two magnetic feet, which are used to fasten the kalimba to a resonator such as a frame drum or the optional resonator frame fitted with goat skin.

Thomas Bothe creates new and unique tunings for each of his instruments, as if he were asking each kalimba what it wants to sing. Well, actually, of the eight 2B/9B kalimbas I have, there are seven unique kalimba tunings. (Maybe two were twins?) Most of Bothe's tunings present two different arpeggiated chords or suspended chords, one on the lower tines and another related chord on the upper tines. This batch of tunings had several that were based on scales rather than arpeggios:

In addition to these seven tunings, you can get the 2B/9B with buzzers in any of the tunings that are available for the 2B/9 kalimba without buzzers.

To learn more about my totally subjective ratings of the quality of these tunings, read my essay on kalimba tunings.