Wild Blue Pixel
TIP OF THE DAY
Friday, December 31, 2010
We've built it - a couple of times for some of us - tuned it, and now we're trying to play it. If it doesn't sound quite right, here are a couple possible remedies:
Are the tines tensioned enough? If it was easy to slide the bridge into place then you may not have enough tension on the tines for them to ring. Slide the bridge back towards the middle of the body, pop out the rest and pack some slips of paper under it. Re-assemble the instrument and see if that helps. If not, then you may need to pull it all apart and do the threading again tighter.
Is the top nail parallel with the bridge? If not, that will put uneven tension on all of the tines. If it's a small amount, try sliding the bridge out a small amount on the low side so that looking from the back of the instrument they are level again. I make a kalimba with three machine screws holding down a bar to tension the tines. The tightness of the left hand screw can effect the sound of the right hand tine. Slant the bridge both ways to see if it makes a difference.
Does one note refuse to play? You can make the best looking instrument and it will still go THUNK on a certain note. Re-tune another tine to the same note and try again. If it still goes THUNK, then it's the kalimba not wanting to resonate to that note. If it rings then the tine needs attention. It may just be a bit of fluff trapped between tine and bridge. Give it a wiggle and see if that helps. Sometimes a tine at 90 degrees to the bridge won't ring but tweaked off by a few degrees sounds fine.
The dreaded buzz. I know that traditionally there should be buzzers on each tine and a few bottle caps nailed on for good measure, but a buzzing tine puts my teeth on edge so I avoid them if at all possible. I think the dreaded buzz is caused by a misalignment of the tine with the bridge. Sometimes it can be helped by giving it a wiggle but it'll generally come back. Accepted wisdom is to put something between the tine and the bridge to smooth out the bumps. A sliver of paper is a good remedy but I prefer a sliver of soda can. Both seem to work well. Poor tension can also cause a tine to buzz.
If all else fails, pull it all apart and try again. after all from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success.
That's all for this topic for the time being ,but I think this instrument might make a comeback next year when I look at amplifying and recording. Until then, happy holidays!