What are some of the features my kalimba could have?
Notice the tonal modulations or wah wah made
when the thumb covers and uncovers the sound
hole in the opening 30 seconds of this video.
The most important feature of any kalimba is its tuning. Tuning is distinctly divided into two branches, as you will see in this Tuning discussion. The first branch exists because your kalimba will slowly go out of tune as you play it, and you will need to retune it periodically - say once a year for a seldom played kalimba, once a month for a moderately played kalimba, and once a day if you play hard and loud for hours daily with a drummer. The other branch of Tuning is all about choosing to put your kalimba into a different tuning to experiment with the way the kalimba will sound and feel with a whole new arrangement of notes.
Each kalimba we sell comes from the manufacturer in a standard tuning, which will work with most of the books that we write and sell. However, we also provide you the opportunity to select and order an alternative tuning, which may sound emotionally different to you, or which may be required if you need your kalimba for a special purpose - like playing along on a particular song with another instrument playing in a specific key.
Each kalimba we ship will come with a handsome tuning chart like the one shown here. It will clearly indicate the note that each tine should be tuned to, and many of the tuning charts also list the degree of the scale (ie, 1 is the root, 3- is the minor third). These tuning charts will help you understand how to play the kalimba and will help you get the most out of your kalimba experience.
Here's some friendly advice: If someone tries to sell you a kalimba that is not in tune, or if they claim that tuning doesn't matter, run the other way!
Select Color of Painted Tines
The Hugh Tracey kalimbas have traditionally come with select tines painted either red or blue. The color was not important, but which tines were painted was important - they served as reference posts as you played the kalimba, and also helped you transfer notes from tablature to your kalimba.
Kalimba Magic now paints the tines ourselves, meaning we can also spice it up a bit and give you the colors you want. Tine colors available are: red, blue, green, yellow, black, white, unpainted and custom (a combination of the available colors).
Select Style of Wood
Our best selling kalimbas, the Hugh Tracey kalimbas, are all made from the African hardwood kiaat. Kiaat presents in a variety of colors and grain styles. Usually it is a warm brown, but the sapwood is blond and it can have red, black, and blond highlights.
Our most popular kalimbas now offer a choice of wood style, including solid wood color, darkest, mostly blond, part blond, and interesting grain. Even if you are ordering a kalimba which does not have wood style as an option on the product page, you can still request that wood in the comments field.