The Kalimba is a simple yet beautiful instrument to play. Although many of them may appear quite similar, there are can be some significant differences between their sound quality and volume. In this article, I take you through some of the best options to buy online.
My top pick as the best kalimba is the Gecko kalimba, as it has a great sound, it comes at a good price, and it comes with a bunch of useful accessories.
Kalimbas generally have a wooden body with a resonator box than has 17 metal plucks on top, which is played by thumbs or forefingers. Each pluck represents a note, so you have notes within a two-octave range to play with.
The 5 Best Kalimbas of 2023
Let’s go through them a bit more, I’ve compared the differences between each of them, in terms of sound and design.
1. GECKO Kalimba
This is a classic 17 plucked kalimba is in a standard C tuning, with which you get tuning hammer and a protective bag.
The most important thing about this instrument is its sound quality. This is definitely a full-bodied kalimba and not a toy.
Even though this instrument has very good quality, the price is pretty cheap. This is a great buy whether you’re an amateur or a professional looking to widen your instrument collection.
If you’re looking for a great-quality all-round kalimba, then this my recommended option. However, if you’re looking for one that has an internal pickup for amplification and recording then check out the Moozica 17-Key EQ Kalimba later on in this guide.
2. UNOKKI Kalimba 17 Keys
Although kalimbas generally are very affordable instruments, if you’re really on a budget then this one to check out.
This is a standard 17 keys kalimba, made out of mahogany wood and with steel plucks. The outside of this kalimba is painted in a natural wood color with beautiful ornaments around the resonator box hole.
In the package you will get, apart from the instrument, the tuning hammer, wiping cloth, bag, rubber finger protectors and instructions for use.
This is all you need for starting to learn how to play. The sound of this kalimba is good and you can tune the instrument easily with the help of the mobile app.
This is a perfect kalimba for beginners, whether they are adults or children. It’s a cheap, affordable, decent quality instrument, that will help you learn the basics of playing this type of instrument.
3. Ationgle Luxury Kalimba
Another affordable kalimba, this one stands out for its beauty. The beautiful blue color with the resonating hole in the shape of the butterfly is sure to take a breath away from anyone when they see this instrument. This is a classic Hugh Tracey kalimba with 17 metal plucks, while the body is made out of mahogany single sheet pieces of wood.
Together with the set, you will get the tuning hammer, rubber protection for your fingers and songbook with instructions on how to play the instrument.
The plucks themselves are engraved with the notes so this is a perfect gift for beginners to learn which note is where when they play. Apart from notes, plucks are also number coded, so you can learn how to play more easily.
The shape of this kalimba is also modeled to fit perfectly in your hands, with a nice hourglass-like narrowing in the middle of the body. This is a very good, mid-range quality kalimba, fit for both amateurs and professionals alike. It will last you a very long time and it will give you immense joy.
4. ZAIDENBERG Kalimba
And now something a bit different. Zaidenbergs kalimba is different in build from the other kalimbas on this list. It doesn’t have a resonating hole, but instead is built out of solid mahogany wood, with standard steel plucks.
The great thing about the plucks is that they are a bit curved at the end, easing up the playing of the instrument.
With this kalimba, you also get a wooden stand, so that you can present this instrument as a masterpiece that it is when you’re not playing it. It has a beautifully engraved and designed body, in the hourglass shape, which also makes it very comfortable to play and hold in your hands for a longer period of time.
It’s tuned in the standard C tuning and has 17 plucks. This kalimba will provide you with a gorgeous, heavenly sound that quality kalimbas have. As for the price, it’s not too expensive, so you don’t have to break the piggy bank to get this piece of beauty.
5. Moozica 17-Key EQ Kalimba
At the end of the list, I present to you the professional stage kalimba. This kalimba is standard, 17 notes kalimba with a beautiful blue body and resonating hollow body. But, the main thing about this kalimba is that it’s amplified. On the bottom of the instrument is ¼” jack input, through which you can connect this kalimba with the amplifier, making it perfect for the live stage situations.
This kalimba has a great quality sound, clean and beautiful. Keys are made out of carbon steel with engraved notes on them, so you don’t get messed up in the middle of the song!
More About The Kalimba
The native African kalimbas have not always been made with metal plucks, but also with wooden plucks and usually have up to 23 plucks, which are then tuned to specific notes used in Africa. These sounds cannot really be always transcribed in the European note system because they work on different frequencies than European notes.
Today, kalimba is a world-wide recognized instrument. Because it’s so easy to play and has such a beautiful, calming sound (and it’s compact) people around the world are getting these. It’s also very suitable for children to make their first music steps on (since it’s basically working on the same principle as a xylophone).
I hope that this article has helped you make a decision about which kalimba you want to buy. If you haven’t been introduced to kalimba before, I hope that you fall in love with this cute little instrument as much as I have!
If you’re in doubt, my pick as the best kalimba is the Gecko kalimba, though you can’t go wrong with any of the options on this list.