Anyone play Kalimba?

JnApple

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I have one they are fun. Came up with a simple Waltz, nothing serious.
 

KoaKat

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I have four kalimbas. I got the first one, a cheap ($28) hollow box from eBay last Christmas. I had never really played an instrument before and have very little musical talent but read that the kalimba was easy to learn. (It is.) A few weeks later I got a Hluru flat board (~$50) which is not as loud as the hollow box but is better quality and sounds better, albeit softer. Then I wanted to see what the acrylic ones sound like so I got a cat-shaped acrylic for $32 on Amazon. It sounds different than the others but has a very pretty sound to it. Eventually I felt too limited by the 17 keys of those three kalimbas so I bought a 34-key Seeds model. I ordered it from the manufacturer and paid ~$88 because it was a pre-order when the company was just starting up. You can buy one on Amazon now for $100-110.

I have a lot of digital sheet music and have tagged and organized them based on whether they can be played on a 17-key or if the song requires 34. I mostly play the Seeds and I highly recommend it. Many 34-key instruments cost a lot more. Some are made from prettier wood but that was not enough to make me upgrade to a $200-300 instrument.

A few months into my kalimba journey I was looking at some custom instruments by a company that also makes ukuleles. Saw a couple ukes that were so beautiful -- one was koa and the other was spalted maple or mango -- I decided to learn to play so I would have an excuse to buy one of those.

There is a very active kalimba forum on Reddit, if you want to learn more about them.

kathy
 

Sporky

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Reporting in, Gecko received, I repeat, the Gecko has been received.
Out of the box the camphorwood smell is a bit overwhelming, I suspect they rubbed extra oil on it. Feels good in the hands though, smooth, feels well made, the tines are sturdy. It's not loud but not quiet either, just fine for my couch playing. The whole thing feels sturdier than I expected so I wouldn't be worried about carrying it around.
Downside: pictures of model (K17CAP) showed C tuning, but mine is in B. The tuning is easy to change, but it does mean that the engraved notes are all wrong, which is annoying. Also the note stickers which would've somewhat remedied this aren't in the box. Facepalm.
I read that this model has slightly wider tines than most kalimbas. They feel just right to me.
The two highest notes (edge tines) don't ring very long, in fact the highest one is pretty dead. All the rest ring beautifully. I decided to tune the whole thing way down to G. Now it's much better. I'm surprised by how much I can feel the notes in my hands through the wood. Feels nice, especially when tuned down. The sound is dreamy. "Noodled" with it and then felt like I was coming out of a trance.
All in all it's a lovely toy.
 
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KoaKat

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It's very nice but I did not know that Gecko made kalimbas that were tuned in a key other than C. Personally, I would have sent it back but that's just me. I hope you enjoy it.

k.
 

Sporky

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It's very nice but I did not know that Gecko made kalimbas that were tuned in a key other than C. Personally, I would have sent it back but that's just me. I hope you enjoy it.

k.
In other circumstances I would have swapped it for a new one... But I'd probably end up not keeping it in C anyway. Not getting the label stickers is a bummer and I sent the seller a message about it. But other than that it's ok!
 

wqking

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The two highest notes (edge tines) don't ring very long, in fact the highest one is pretty dead. All the rest ring beautifully. I decided to tune the whole thing way down to G. Now it's much better. I'm surprised by how much I can feel the notes in my hands through the wood. Feels nice, especially when tuned down. The sound is dreamy. "Noodled" with it and then felt like I was coming out of a trance.

Congratulations for your new toy.
In some China Kalimba forums, it's known that Gecko has bad sustain on high pitch notes.
Mine is another China brand, Walter, 21 keys, which is known that has better sustain than Gecko, though I didn't compare it because I didn't play Gecko before.
Good luck to your re-tuning adventure. I hate to use so much effort to hammer so many tines.
 

Sporky

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Congratulations for your new toy.
In some China Kalimba forums, it's known that Gecko has bad sustain on high pitch notes.
Mine is another China brand, Walter, 21 keys, which is known that has better sustain than Gecko, though I didn't compare it because I didn't play Gecko before.
Good luck to your re-tuning adventure. I hate to use so much effort to hammer so many tines.
Agreed, I used flat (toothless) jewellery pliers to move the tines most of the way, and the hammer for fine tuning at the end
 

Sporky

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It's very nice but I did not know that Gecko made kalimbas that were tuned in a key other than C. Personally, I would have sent it back but that's just me. I hope you enjoy it.

k.
In the end I'm returning it! The seller rudely responded that the pictured kalimba in C was actually in B because the lowest note is B on it, and that if I'm not happy I should return it to Amazon. Evidently the seller didn't know anything about tuning/intervals. The one in the product picture has no sharps... SMH. Also still missing something, and the smell of the kalimba was too much in the end. But the experiment has taught me that I really do want a kalimba! How's your experience with the Seeds 34-key staying in tune?
 

KoaKat

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How's your experience with the Seeds 34-key staying in tune?
I tuned it when I bought it (last Spring) and haven't since. Yeah, I'm kind of embarrassed about that. So I just checked it and the lower row of tines are all off a few "cents"; the upper row are still pretty much right on.

FWIW: These are the stickers I put on my Seeds: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08R793XD9/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I used the stickers with a letter and number on the lower row then I took four of the orange (blank) ones and put them on the middle four upper tines and marked what key they are. I didn't bother to mark the other upper tines because they are just the sharp of the tine below. People who play from kalimba tabs use the blank stickers on some of their tines to make it easier to follow the notes but I don't do that. I can sort of kind of read music which means I am not limited to songs that someone has created tabs for. I hope this makes sense.

Good luck with whatever you buy. If you are willing to invest ~ $100 I do recommend the Seeds.

k.