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Kalimbas

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What are the best kalimbas?

The kalimba is a small, hand-held percussive instrument also known as the African Thumb Piano. They are handmade, rounded pieces of wood that have anywhere from 5 to 21 metal tines affixed over a small mouth. You simply take the instrument in your hand, press down on the tine you want to sound, and release it. 

Some have described this African instrument as its own mini drum set, and indeed, you can become as proficient in playing the kalimba as you can playing a complete, multi-piece drum set. As for the best kalimba, it all comes down to different styles, like whether it is made from wood or metal and how far apart the tines are spaced.

Gecko and Moozica are two of the best manufacturers of kalimbas on the market. The Moozica Solid Koa Kalimba has 21 keys and is constructed from a solid piece of koa wood. This kalimba produces a warm, deep sound instead of something like the Gecko 17 key, which has a more angular shape and produces a higher, sharper sound.

Which kalimba is best for beginners?

One of the best kalimbas that beginners can buy is the Newlam. This beautiful little instrument is made from natural, air-dried wood. It comes with stickers, a flannelette bag, and cleaning fabric for your tines and body.

You can also purchase accessories like an electronic songbook, a tuning hammer, and additional instruction books. The hand-rest curve design makes this kalimba perfect for beginners. The shape makes it easy to play, and the tines are perfectly spaced for learning fingers. 

Why is kalimba popular?

Kalimba can be played as part of an ensemble or for solos. This versatile instrument is known by many different names across Africa, where it originates. The kalimba is said to have originated in Kenya but is quite popular in Zimbabwe, where it's played in public orchestras and on the street. 

The kalimba adds a warm, jovial sound to any orchestration. Apart from the sound of the kalimba making it a popular instrument for beginners to take up and learn, it's also relatively easy to learn. There are now bows or picks or reeds: just the instrument and your fingers. Learn the right notes, and you'll be ready for your solo performance!

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