17 August 2020

New: Bamboo 17-Note Kalimba

Posted in News and Announcements

This one looks and sounds bright and shiny!

I am particularly proud of the design of this kalimba. Ecologically sustainable bamboo, with a "KALIMBAMAGIC" swirl of motion resonating from the sound hole. My wife, artist Su Washington, and I, made this design.

"KALIMBAMAGIC" on the front is meaningful for two reasons. First, it is a call to you to create your own kalimba magic every time you pick up this kalimba. And second, this is a kalimba that I am happy to put my name on


The Kalimba Magic Bamboo 17-Note Kalimba

OK, basically this is the same kalimba that has been coming out of China for the last three or four years. It has the same notes, and is painted the same way we have been painting the Heart-17 kalimbas (so you can use our tablature-based books with this kalimba, too). You can play the same songs. It is the same... but different.

What do I like about this Bamboo 17-Note Kalimba? What makes it different?

* The blond wood is similar to one of my favorite Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimbas. If you have been on the Kalimba Magic YouTube channel, you have seen that favorite blond kalimba.

* And just like my blond Hugh Tracey Treble, this Bamboo-17 Kalimba has good clear high notes. Read on to hear my explanation for that.

* When I play this one, I love to see the "Kalimba Magic" spiral design on the face wood. This face design was created by myself and my artist wife, Su Washington. (See a link to her web page below.)

* One might think of bamboo as the bottom feeder of woods... but I found an advantage to bamboo. Now, typically the kalimba face (or back) pieces are made from a single piece of wood. Whilst aesthetically pleasing, it turns out the wood is weakest in the center of the face wood. On the other hand, the bamboo is not wide enough to span the entire width of the kalimba - rather, there are between 15 and 20 slices of bamboo wood that are glued together to form a piece of bamboo wood wide enough to span the face or the back. It gives an attractive butcher block effect. But the big advantage is that the small bits of bamboo that are glued together are actually stronger and stiffer than a single piece of wood on the face. This improved strength factors in in two ways - first, the multi-piece bamboo face wood design is physically stronger, and this kalimba will stand up better to the physical abuse we players might put our kalimba through. I accidentally left my first one in the car... for 10 days.... in Tucson AZ.... in May and June... when the outside temps were over 100, and in my car it would have been 130, 140, or higher. And yet, my bamboo kalimba's facewood did not crack or anything. Wee! And the other advantage to a stiffer kalimba wood face is that it will support the higher notes better. With a less-stiff face wood, some higher notes end up just going "thud", while the Bamboo-17 tends to have clear, tone-worthy notes at the upper end.

Anyway, my personal "Kalimba Magic" Bamboo-17 kalimba is a warrior - I have been taking it with me hiking and traveling, and I've been enjoying it a great deal. If you get one, I trust you, too, will enjoy yours!