Kalimba buyer's guide

What is the difference between all kinds of kalimbas?

There are many different types of kalimbas, the below four types are the most popular. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages. To decide which one to buy, it depends on the tone you are looking for.

In general, flat-board kalimba sounds bright and crystal, it has the clearest tone among others. Whereas the hollow body kalimba has more round and warm tone. The design of the sound hole in the middle can make fascinating 'wah-wah' sound when you move your fingers around the sounds hole, which is so much fun to play. Acrylic kalimba looks dreamy and has very clear tone. However, as acrylic material doesn't vibrate as much as wood, acrylic kalimba is much quieter than a wooden kalimba.  


Does the type of wood have a huge impact on the tone?

Not a huge difference but quite noticeable. Different shapes have a much greater impact on sound than different wood. So the easiest way is to choose the shape first, then choose the color you like, and read about the timbre characteristics of wood in the product description. We have sound test videos attached in product description for most of our kalimbas. 

What is the best kalimba for beginners? How many keys should I choose?

Technically, no matter what type of kalimba, the way of playing is the same. 17 keys kalimba is the most suitable size for beginners. It has enough range to play most of the popular piece, and the kalimba tabs for 17 keys are easy to find. If you are buying your first kalimba, we strongly suggest you to try the 17 keys hollow body design with the sound hole in the middle. In our opinion, the 'wah-wah' sound effect on a kalimba is not to be missed.

Which kalimba has the best sound quality?

In terms of quality, kalimba made by the brand Lingting is always amazing. Yes, it is a little bit pricey than other models, but it's so worth it. 

Which tuning should I choose?

70% of model we sell are tuned in C major, which is the most common tuning for kalimba and the easiest to understand.

However, hollow body kalimba with middle sound hole design tends to have problem with its end tines (sound muted, not resonate enough). The reason for this is more because of structure on this type of kalimba (the end tines are the shortest and far away from its sound hole) rather than quality problems.

Therefore, choose a different tuning for this type of kalimba will solve this problem entirely. The below two models have perfect end tines and amazing resonance for all keys.



All kalimbas can tune into other keys. Even you have a kalimba that tuned in keys other than C major, as long as it in major keys, you can still follow the same tabs made for C major kalimba. The melody will be the same, the whole piece will just sounds slightly lower.


If you have more questions on how to choose your kalimba, free feel to email us on info@littlekalimbashop.com We'd love to hear from you!

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