What is a kalimba?
The kalimba is an African musical instrument with a wooden soundboard and metal keys. The 15-key kalimba that we are making at Juma Instruments is an instrument that originates from African ethnic groups in Southern Africa. In the classification of musical instruments, the kalimba is in the category of lamellophones or plucked idiophones (Hornbostel-Sachs system).
Kalimba is one of the names used for this 15-key African lamellophone. Other language varieties are Nyunga, Nyonga, and Karimba. Karimba translates to “little wooden xylophone” and Nyunga translates to “something little that causes fun trouble”…
Variations of the kalimba are found all across Africa, for example in Zambia they play the Kankobela which has 7 to 12 keys. In Congo, they play the Likembe which has 8 keys in pentatonic tuning.
The 15-key kalimba comes tuned in a major key. For players who would like to play more keys, we are making the 19-key kalimba, which has got the same basic tuning and layout as the 15-key kalimba but with additional keys from the same scale. We can make different types of kalimba and tunings (minor or custom) on request. You are most welcome to contact us to discuss the options.
Juma Instruments are made by Zimbabwean instrument maker Dingiswayo Juma. They are quality and solid instruments that can last you a lifetime. All metal keys are hammered by hand and tuned with a tuner to ensure they are in pitch and can be played with other instruments. The soundboard is made of quality hard wood and artistically crafted into shape.