March 18, 2012
Vol. 7, Num. 2
Kalimba Magic NEWS
introducing new models!
I get one or two dozen emails each day asking me all sorts of questions, and I answer almost every one. Some questions get asked over and over again. I try to include those questions in my "Ask Mark" column.
I love the kalimba and the Treble in Bb is my first choice. I'm 14 and play in a band with my friends! If you could tell me how long shipping is from you to Charlotte NC, and if the Treble kalimba in Bb is good for playing together with guitar, that would be great! Thank you Mark, or who may be reading this! —Noah
I ship 2-3 times a week - I will be shipping later today. Shipping is via US Priority Mail, and takes 2-3 days to reach NC from Tucson AZ. While the Bb Treble kalimba is my personal favorite, it is not so good with guitars, as guitars don't like playing in Bb! (It is great for playing with horns, saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, trombone, etc - or for playing all by itself. AND as it turns out, it is good for playing with mbira dzavadzimu in Cosmas tuning.)
How should you choose a good key for your kalimba if you play in a band? First: sit down and look at your songs and ask, "What key is each song in?" Do you know how to figure that out - or does someone in your band know? Pay attention to majors and minors, because G major has "G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G" while G minor has "G A Bb C D Eb F G" - i.e., the same notes as Bb. Guitars often like to play in these keys, and I have suggested some kalimbas that will work well in those keys:
Of course, the Chromatic kalimba is also a possibility, but that is a different beast altogether.
Another possibility - you could have the guitars play with a capo on - a song that was in A with capo on first fret will become Bb. A song that was in G with capo on the third fret will also become Bb.
Now, it turns out that you can retune your kalimba a little bit and make a big difference in the key you are in. For example, changing the F sharps to F naturals will move you from the key of G to C. It takes me about a minute to retune the two F#s to F, so I can do it during live performances. ANYWAY, looking at the keys of your songs that you might want to play kalimba on will help you decide which kalimba or kalimbas might be most useful to you.
I am considering getting a new kalimba. I have a Hugh Tracey in G with a KK hot spot pickup. I love it, but I want more key variation. I play with lots of effects. I am thinking a Chromatic kalimba in C with a pickup would work ok - how does it sound? My current pickup usually needs a preamp - does yours? I kinda want to avoid getting a bunch of kalimbas because there are some modifications I might make that would be hard to replicate. Also, if I am not happy, what is your return/exchange policy?
The Chromatic in C --- there are three models:
Alto Box Chromatic retuned to C. On the front, it is just like an Alto, but the F#s ==> F natural... so it will sound just like an ALTO, pretty much. All the "flats" are on the back, right behind their unflatted counterparts (behind each G on the front will be a Gb = F#). See here for tuning layout.
A third possibility is the ALTO CELESTE Chromatic, which is arranged just like the Alto Chromatic, but is mounted on a board. As the kalimba is not as thick as the Alto, this is easier to hold and play, but it is not as loud as the box Alto, and doesn't allow for wah wah effects since there are no sound holes.
The "flats on the back" is challenging, but it is possible to learn how to play. START OUT by just playing in C on the front, then start to add one or two chromatic notes from the back.
The KALIMBA MAGIC EXCHANGE POLICY: For a cash refund, I will refund 85% of the cost of
merchandise (but not the cost of shipping) returned within 30 days of purchase,
assuming it is in good condition. (If you are international, we can stretch that 30
days a bit). IF you want a different kalimba, I can apply 100% of the cost of
merchandse to the replacement items.
Just a quick note to say I got the kalimba on Thursday and haven't been able to put it down. It really is magical! Its a challenge to play late at night as the sound just makes me feel so relaxed and sleepy!
Anyhow I've had to put it down as its completely filed down my thumbnails to nothing, after I had grown them fairly long too. I can see that will be the main challenge as I find the instrument is easy to play!
Oh and the people that told me it looked like a bird box and sounded like rubbish soon changed their minds after playing it in person!
Glad to hear that you are enjoying your kalimba! Try playing with a lighter touch - see how lightly you can play and still get a good loud sound. Hugh Tracey wrote that the most silvery sounds can come from a very light touch on the kalimba tines.
ALSO, there is a brush-on Super Glue that Target carries that will make your nails somewhat more resistant to erosion from kalimba playing. I have this Super Glue in my kalimba case and in my car, as it is also useful for repairing broken nails.
As a last resort (for me, at least -I prefer playing gently and using Super Glue), check out the Alaska Pik - a guitar pick that fits on your thumbs.
Send me your questions! I certainly don't know everything about the kalimba, but I know a lot, I'm learning more each day—and I am happy to share this information.