Kalimba - aka - Thumb piano

Fun little instrument for anyone...

I used a cigar box, but a home-made box would work as well...build one for yourself, the kids or grand-kids, gift-giving or what-ever, just get out in that shop and create ;)
The keys can be anything you can imagine, but spring steel seems to be the favored material...Mine here uses tines from an old leaf rake, I've seen where some folks use the metal from an electricians snake, bicycle spokes, umbrella ribs, hacksaw blades, even those windshield wiper inserts etc. etc. let your imagination run wild LOL

As far as tuning goes, it's just a matter of loosening the hold down screws and moving the tines in &/or out of the holder and then re-tighten.
Mine's set up with a piezo pick-up & jack port to plug in to an amp, D.A.W. or even straight into the PC...great to add effects such as reverb, distortion etc. what ever floats your boat. Not necessary to play, it's just an option.

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And since I can't play this thing any better than my sorry guitar playing, here's a little sample of how they should sound :D http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8uI59vXP_c
 

Vaughn McMillan

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Very neat, Ken. :thumb:

Not positive Larry, but I believe it's because he has it set up with different keys{IE: key of C, key of Am etc.} :dunno:

They've mainly there as a point of visual reference, sort of like the fret markers on a guitar neck. Since each tine can be tuned to different notes, they really don't have anything to do with the key signature itself.
 

Ryan Mooney

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The grounding bar solves on of the main hassles in that with the other setup everytime you loosen it up to adjust one tine the others can move.

I do wonder if it changes the tone substantially (I'm not well versed enough in instrument physics to even guess)?
 
Cool! So do we get to hear the tone of yours? Just curious how well the piezo picks up the sound.

Nice job btw! :thumb:

Sure, apologies for the sad video/sound...using my picture camera's vid capture & built in mic :eek:

The piezo's work great but they do pick-up any ambient sounds nearby. After this I can see I need to file some more rough edges on the tines :bang: just enough burrs to catch some skin.

Thanks for the clarification Vaughn, you could see I had no idea LOL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCb17z9EWjk
 

Vaughn McMillan

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33,441
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ABQ NM
The grounding bar solves on of the main hassles in that with the other setup everytime you loosen it up to adjust one tine the others can move.

I do wonder if it changes the tone substantially (I'm not well versed enough in instrument physics to even guess)?

I agree the grounding bar is a great idea. I doubt it changes the tone at all, compared to a single clamping bar. The tone is primarily a factor of the bar material, thickness, and length, as well as the resonance of the box.
 
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