Hands plucking kalimba instrument

As children, many of us grow up learning musical instruments. From the guitar to the violin, we all learn one instrument or another. However, as we go through our teenage years, many of us give up on our musical ability. Whether we fall out of love with the instrument, begin prioritising alternative activities or simply want to focus on our social life, we all have our reasons for doing so. How do you want to get back into music whilst doing something different to everyone else? You can consider playing the kalimba.

Also known as the thumb piano, the kalimba is a small piano-like instrument inspired by the traditional Zimbabwe instrument, the mbira. It has a very distinct sound and is now played all over the globe. Where can you buy one? You can buy a beginner or professional kalimba online. There are many digital stores you can buy a kalimba from, many of which will provide you with a high-quality instrument. We sell coconut thumb pianos and do not currently have kalimbas for sale but we can still guide you in the right direction.

Our Recommended - Professional Kalimba [17 note]

top pick 17 note professional kalimba

This 17 note mahogany kalimba is perfect for a beginner or professional. It is everything you need to get started on your kalimba journey and will provide the ability to play your favourite songs. On top of that it comes with a tuning hammer, thumb protectors, and a case to keep it safe. We have compared many types of kalimbas to make this easy for you and have chosen this one based on the manufacturing, the style, and the price. For more information on choosing a kalimba see below. 

Features

  • Made from solid mahogany wood
  • Suitable for beginner and professional 
  • Comes with lots of accessories
  • Perfect gift

Manufacturer

Kalimbas are traditionally from Zimbabwe, Africa and are made from Kiat wood which is a traditional African hardwood. One of the most popular kalimba brands is a chinese company called Gecko and each instrument is mass produced. To ensure your instrument is unique, we highly recommend doing a little research before purchasing.

Types

There are three main types of kalimbas. They are treble, celeste, and alto.

  1. The Treble kalimba has 17 notes
  2. The Celeste model is board mounted, and has clear high notes. In comparison to the other types it sounds more delicate like a music box.
  3.  The Alto has 15 notes which is exactly two octaves. The kalimba is usually in the key of G. 

Material

A traditional kalimba is made from African hardwood (usually kiaat). Alternative options include coconut, gourd, bamboo, spruce, sandalwood, mahogany and more. All of which will provide the instrument with its own unique sound. 

Notes / Tines

Depending on where you shop, a kalimba should have 6, 8, 12 or 17 tines based on your skillset. If you’re completely new to the instrument, look for a lower number of tines. Many kalimbas will come with their own manuals which will help you to quickly pick up the instrument. Before you know it, you’ll be able to play with 17 tines easily!

Price

When it comes to buying a kalimba, the price is one of the most important aspects. You can pick up a budget instrument made from coconut or gourd for as little as £6. If you are looking for something more midrange with 17 keys, a case, tuning hammer and other accessories you will be looking at around £22. An electric kalimba is more high end and could cost £60 or more.

Most Popular thumb piano kalimbas

There are many different types of the thumb piano, those made with a ply, hard, softwood board, coconut shell, base metal keys, or superior steel sprung keys. From 12cm to a large 20cm, the number of notes is another factor. Ours range from 5 to 8 and are tuned to the western scale. These could be a suitable gift for a kid or for a beginner-professional musician. 

1. Wooden Kalimba (full size)

full size kalimba

Simple yet effective, featuring a wooden board and simplistic design, suitable for a beginner child or professional. This one is full size (17 or 21 keys), and as it has the key notes marked on each tine, you can play almost any song depending on your skill level. This solid mahogany wood kalimba also comes with a tuning hammer, thumb protectors, and a sleeve to protect it from scratches, etc. This is the ultimate thumb piano kalimba and is the winner in the kalimba world. 

2. Coconut Thumb Piano (7 Notes)

small coconut thumb piano

This one is a little different, and is rather unique. The coconut thumb piano is made from natural produce and comes in assorted dot painted pattern designs. Each one is approximately 12cm, but this does of course vary. This one has 7 notes which makes it much less intimidating for beginners, allowing you to relax with your kalimba without the worry of knowing too much what you are doing. It has a beautiful sound and each one features different colours.

3. Medium Coconut Thumb Piano

16cm balinese coconut piano

Our most popular, this coconut thumb piano has beautiful carvings on it, and is approximately 16cm. With an upgraded wooden top, it comes in assorted designs and make for a fantastic gift. This 7 note is also suited to beginners, but would also be a great element to bring into the music studio! 

4. Pocket Kalimba

pocket kalimba

Just as the name suggests, this small beautiful kalimba is approximately 7cm, yet it still has 8 notes, and fits in your pocket. It has the notes on it so that you can play like a pro, on the go. It is compact, portable, and sits perfectly in the palm of you hand. You could say that it's child size, but we think that its the perfect size. It's cute to say the least, it's an absolute charmer that any musician should have. 

5. Large Gourd Kalimba

20cm large coconut thumb piano

Showcasing our large gourd kalimba, that is approximately 20cm diameter. This one has 8 strong robust steel keys and is suitable for a beginner adult. It combines the dot painted design with the wooden top and is a statement woodwind instrument that delivers a stunning natural look. 

6. Vietnamese Dan Bung Thumb Piano

Vietnamese thumb piano

Featuring a round handmade thumb piano with steel sprung keys from Vietnam. It has hand-painted flowers to the side, with an effective working soundbox. These thumb piano kalimba are sourced from many countries such as Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia and more places but are shipped from our warehouse in the UK. This is more of a music instrument collectors item as not many of these are made and our quantity is limited, if you like the look of it, you should get it before its gone!

7. Kalimba (5 notes)

5 note kalimba

This African musical instrument consists of a rosewood board with attached staggered metal tines, played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs. So fun to play and relaxing to hear, the most simple thumb piano that we sell, children love to play these, it is a fantastic toy but can also be used by the professional musician who would like to try a new angle.

Recommended Accessories

thumb piano kalimba accessories

If you haven't got these 3 items already, you definitely should get them. As they are all helpful in one way or another. The little hammer will help you tune your instrument without hurting your thumbs on the metal tines. The kalimba stand will give you a place to put your kalimba when you have finished playing with it.

They also look amazing in the studio and will further protect your instrument. A storage bag is a must if you are planning on taking your instrument out with you, but also will protect it for when you want to put it away.

Tuning hammer | Kalimba Stand | Storage Bag

Music

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