How to Choose the Right Kalimba for You

Your Guide to buying the best Kalimbas


Kalimbas are an African musical instrument that provide a unique and enjoyable musical experience. Whether you are an experienced musician or are just beginning to explore the joys of music, a Kalimba is a great way to get started. This buying guide provides information about the different types and sizes of Kalimbas, as well as some helpful tips and tricks on how to choose the right one for your needs. With this guide, you can easily find the perfect Kalimba to begin your musical journey.

Key features

  1. Type - Kalimbas come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from traditional to modern, so make sure to choose one that fits your playing style and needs.
  2. Number of Tines - Kalimbas typically come with anywhere from 5-17 tines, so consider the range of sounds you want to make when selecting the right number.
  3. Material - Kalimbas are made with either metal or wooden tines, and each material will produce a different sound. Metal provides a brighter, stronger tone while wood provides a warmer, gentler sound.
  4. Tuneability - Many Kalimbas offer tuneable tines, allowing you to adjust the pitch of your instrument to match other instruments or to find the perfect sound for your music.
  5. Price - Kalimbas range in price from very affordable to high-end models. Consider the features you need and determine your budget before shopping.

See the most popular Kalimbas on Amazon

Important considerations


  • Variety - Kalimbas come in a range of types and sizes, allowing you to find the perfect instrument for you and your preferences.
  • Portability - Kalimbas are small and lightweight, making them ideal for travel and easy to transport.
  • Versatility - Kalimbas can be used to produce a variety of musical styles and tones, from traditional African music to modern pop and rock.
  • Durability - Kalimbas are built to last and are often made with durable materials such as metal or wood.
  • Affordability - Kalimbas are relatively inexpensive compared to other musical instruments, making them a great option for those on a budget.


  • Cost: Kalimbas can cost anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars.
  • Availability: Kalimbas may be difficult to find in traditional music stores, and must be purchased online or from specialized retailers.
  • Learning Curve: While kalimbas are relatively easy instruments to learn, they require practice and dedication to perfect and master.
  • Durability: Kalimbas are made of wood and metal, and can be damaged if handled too roughly or exposed to extreme temperatures.
  • Noise: When not playing in a controlled environment, kalimbas can become too loud and disrupt the peace.

Best alternatives

  1. Marimbas - A large, wooden, xylophone-like instrument with metal keys.
  2. Vibraphones - A percussion instrument with metal keys that create a vibrato effect when struck.
  3. Hammered Dulcimers - A stringed instrument with a trapezoidal sounding board.
  4. Xylophones - A percussion instrument consisting of a set of wooden bars that are struck with mallets.
  5. Guitarleles - A hybrid instrument that combines elements of both a guitar and a ukulele.
  6. Kokle - A Latvian stringed instrument that is played by plucking the strings with the fingers.

Related tools, supplies, and accessories

  • Tuning Hammer - A small hammer used to tune the kalimba.
  • Pick - A pick or thumb piano is an instrument that uses metal tines of various lengths, which are plucked with the fingers. It is an idiophone, which means it produces its own sound without the help of strings or drums.
  • Dampener - A small piece of material, usually foam or rubber, used to dampen the sound of the kalimba.
  • Stickers - Stickers can be used to label notes on the kalimba and help make it easier to play.
  • Tuning Sticks - Small sticks used for tuning the kalimba and helping to keep it in tune.
  • Carrying Case - A case to hold and protect the kalimba while traveling.
  • Capo - A device used to raise the pitch of the kalimba, allowing for easier playing in different keys.

Common questions

  1. What is a Kalimba? A Kalimba is a plucked instrument of African origin traditionally made from a wooden board with metal tines. It is also known as a thumb piano or an African mbira.
  2. What are the different types of Kalimbas available? There are several different types of Kalimbas available, such as traditional African mbira kalimbas, modern box kalimbas, diatonic kalimbas, and chromatic kalimbas.
  3. What is the best type of Kalimba for a beginner? For a beginner, a traditional African mbira or a modern box kalimba is a good choice because they are relatively easy to learn and play.
  4. What is the difference between diatonic and chromatic Kalimbas? Diatonic Kalimbas are tuned to a specific key, while chromatic Kalimbas are tuned to all twelve notes of the chromatic scale, allowing you to play in any key.
  5. What materials are Kalimbas typically made out of? Kalimbas are typically made out of wood, metal tines, and sometimes plastic or other synthetic materials.
  6. What should I look for when buying a Kalimba? When buying a Kalimba, it is important to consider the type and quality of the instrument, as well as the tuning and range of notes it offers. It is also important to consider the size and weight of the instrument, as well as any accessories included.


An interesting fact about Kalimbas is that they are sometimes referred to as African thumb pianos, as they are primarily played using the thumbs and index fingers to pluck the tines. This is quite different from the majority of other traditional musical instruments, which are generally played using hands and fingers to strum or pluck strings or keys. The unique playing style makes the Kalimba an interesting and enjoyable instrument to play. Additionally, Kalimbas are traditionally believed to have spiritual significance and are thought to be able to ward off evil spirits and encourage positive energy. This makes them an especially popular instrument throughout Africa. Source

Disclaimer: This buying guide was not created by humans, and it is possible that some of it's content is inaccurate or incomplete. We do not guarantee or take any liability for the accuracy of this buying guide. Additionally, the images on this page were generated by AI and may not accurately represent the product that is being discussed. We have tried to convey useful information, but it is our subjective opinion and should not be taken as complete or factual.