Kalimba : The Thumb Piano

Hi, hey there, hello awesomes!

Have you heard of the instrument called Kalimba? *thinking…* 

I saw this word kalimbafor the first time when I was searching for a relaxing game in App Store. Pretty sure I’m not the only one who needed some fun but also relaxing game at the same time right? *wink* It looks interesting so I tried and played the game. I enjoyed it a lot to the point that I went to google and checked if this instrument really exists. *nerdy mode on* It led me to youtube and I saw a lot of videos. I was totally blown away on how my ears loving the sounds, so enchanting and soothing! I spent hours watching those videos. So the ending? I went to amazon and purchased one! *dance dance*

My Kalimba Collection

What is Kalimba?

According to OnMusic Dictionary, The word  Kalimba literally means  little  music. Hugh Tracey created Kalimba based on African Mbira (Source:ONMusicDictionary)

To know more about the History of Kalimba you can check Kalimba Magic

Kalimba is made of tonewood which serves as the body and spring steels which are the tines use for plucking. Some of the popular tonewoods used for kalimba are Kiaat, Mahogany, Spruce, Acacia koa, Sandalwood, and Bamboo.

Resonant Box and Flat Board

Left: Resonant Box Right: Flat Board

There are 2 types of Kalimba body. The Resonant Box or hollow kalimba has 1 sound hole at the front and 2 smaller sound holes at the back. While the Flat board ones don’t have any hole.

Hollow kalimbas are louder than the board ones. You can also produce “wah wah” effect by covering and uncovering the holes on your kalimba.

Diatonic and Chromatic

Left: Diatonic Kalimba Right: Chromatic Kalimba

Kalimbas are available in Diatonic and Chromatic Scale. Chromatic has flats and sharps at the back, so you can play more songs with this kalimba. Though you can also play songs with flats and sharps on diatonic ones, you just have to tune the kalimba into the Key you need.

Kalimba has different keys. The most common ones are Key of C and Key of G.

With Built in Pickup

Left: Without built in pickup Right: With built in pickup

There are kalimbas with built in pickup, which allow to you connect the instrument to an amplifier.

How to Play & Sample sounds

This instrument is played using both of your thumbs. But there are also kalimba players who use 4 fingers, using both the middle & index fingers. To give you an idea what these kalimba sounds like and how i play them, you can watch the videos below.

Hugh Tracey Chromatic Celeste Treble (Flat Board)
Hugh Tracey Treble (Resonant Box)I think this is an old version of Hugh Tracey cause the tines are different compare to my chromatic kalimba.

I hope you enjoy reading my getting to know kalimba post.

Have an awesome day!



Hi, Hey there, Hello!


Dear you..



This is not a sponsored post. The Kalimbas featured were purchased by me.  All photos you’ll find in this blog are ©herlplayskalimba.wordpress.com  unless noted otherwise.

18 thoughts on “Kalimba : The Thumb Piano

    1. Hello there! Thank you for taking time to read my blog. 💞 It’s true, this is really an interesting instrument. I discovered this just this year, like 4 months ago. And I fell in love. ☺️ Kalimba is also what inspires me to go back to blogging.

      Stay awesome! 💞


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