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Top 10 Best Kalimba On The Market In 2019 Reviews

Also known as a thumb piano, the Kalimba is a delightful instrument that is enjoyed by many players worldwide. It might not be the first instrument someone would decide to take up, but nonetheless, the Kalimba can give a truly rewarding playing experience.

Understandably, making the right choice of a Kalimba, especially if you’re new to it, can be overwhelming. You’ll need to ask your self what qualities and features of the instrument are important, as well as, assess the level of your playing skills. The answers to those questions will help decide on a model that’s best for you.

Now, considering that there are a whole range of Kalimbas to choose from, this is easier said than done. That’s why we’re here. We have gathered together the Top 10 Best Kalimba on the market, and have written this review to help you decide which one is the perfect Kalimba for you.

So, let’s discover what model best suits you…

kalimba review

Top 10 Best Kalimba For The Money In 2019 Reviews

NameNumber of KeysTinesBodyTuneAccessories
Number of Keys
17
Tines
Carbon steel
Body
Mahogany
Tune
C
Accessories
Portable bag
Number of Keys
17
Tines
Ore metal
Body
Mahogany
Tune
C
Accessories
Protective box, tuning hammer, study instruction, Kalimba learning booklet
Number of Keys
17
Tines
Ore steel
Body
Mahogany
Tune
C
Accessories
Carry bag, and tuning hammer
Number of Keys
17
Tines
Carbon steel
Body
African piano wood
Tune
C
Accessories
Carry bag, and tuning hammer
Number of Keys
17
Tines
Carbon steel
Body
Mahogany
Tune
C
Accessories
User manual, bag, tuning hammer, instructions, key stickers
Number of Keys
17
Tines
Aluminum alloy
Body
Mahogany
Tune
C
Accessories
Not specified
Number of Keys
17
Tines
Iron ores
Body
African mahogany
Tune
C
Accessories
Music book, tune hammer, and bag
Number of Keys
17
Tines
Carbon steel
Body
Mahogany
Tune
C
Accessories
Portable bag, stickers, and wipe cloth
Number of Keys
17
Tines
Mineral steel
Body
Mahogany
Tune
C
Accessories
Tuning hammer, cloth bag, pickup, and key stickers
Number of Keys
10
Tines
Metal
Body
Mahogany
Tune
C
Accessories
Engraved notation, cloth bag, tuning hammer, and music book

1 Donner 17 Key Kalimba

We begin our review with this truly delightful Kalimba – the Donner 17 Key Kalimba. This is a beautiful instrument with solid construction and many features you’re going to enjoy. We love it, and we think you will too.

First of all, it is small in size and super lightweight, so you’re not going to have any problems whatsoever moving this around. It also comes with its own bag for transporting the instrument, which adequately protects it.

Another reason we love this Kalimba is because of the price. It is very affordable, which means the instrument is within the easy reach of most people. And, for the price, the Donner 17 Key offers an amazing level of performance that will impress everyone who listens to you playing it.

This is a great Kalimba for piano players who are trying out the instrument for the first time. The experience will definitely feel familiar.

Now, to the keys… The Donner 17 Key Kalimba, quite understandably,  comes with 17 keys. And these keys are made from high-quality carbon steel. By virtue of this, the Kalimba gives a beautiful sound and superb resonance.

Plus, it’s so playable, just get your thumbs warmed up and you’ll soon be rocking some nice tunes.

With a solid mahogany body, this Kalimba from Donner is easily one of the best in the market.

Finally, we should also mention that this Kalimba comes perfectly tuned. Donner tunes it to the international standard of C. Which are the notes of 1(D), 2(B), 3(G), 4(E), 5(C5), 6(A), 7(F), 8(D), 9(C4), 10(E), 11(G), 12(B), 13(D), 14(F), 15(A), 16(C6), 17(E).

So, once you get this out of the box, you can begin playing and enjoying your Kalimba immediately!


Donner 17 Key Kalimba

Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros
  • Solid mahogany body.
  • Carbon steel keys give great sound.
  • Professional grade Kalimba.
  • Small and lightweight enough to be portable.
  • Comes perfectly tuned.
Cons
  • A few customers complained about not receiving a tuning tool with the package.

2 Mugig 17 Key Kalimba

The Mugig 17 Key Kalimba is another high quality instrument that’s quite similar to the Donner we just reviewed. Also, like our previous model, it is made from mahogany which gives the Kalimba its solid feel. So, this is an instrument that will last.

As for the tines, they are made from ore metal, which makes a fantastic choice and gives them a smooth feel. You’re really going to enjoy how the tines feel as you run your fingers over them. They also give the Kalimba a clear, smooth, and clean sound.

Moreover, the mahogany/ore metal combo of the body and tines of this Kalimba ensures durability. But, not just that, it also impacts on the sustain of the instrument, which, in turn, improves the sound quality.

In weight, this Kalimba is really light and compact, making it super easy to travel with. There’s also a bag included, which make taking it anywhere, even easier.

To ensure that this Kalimba is usable by all levels of musicians, Mugig throws in a manual and a songbook. So, don’t worry if you’ve never played the Kalimba or any other instrument, for that matter. Mugig has got you covered.

Being a box-mounted Kalimba, this comes with a resonating chamber. This gives, a rich, deeply resonating sound that your sure to enjoy.


Mugig 17 Key Kalimba

Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros
  • Mahogany body and ore metal tines ensure durability and improves sustain, as well as, overall sound quality.
  • Small and lightweight making the Kalimba portable.
  • Highly playable by all levels of musicians thanks to the instruction manual and song book.
Cons
  • The key arrangement makes this somewhat difficult to play as some keys are harder to reach than others.

3 Gecko 17 Key Kalimba

We love the Gecko 17 Key Kalimba for its style and design. It looks quite high end and is really attractive. In fact, everything about the packaging of this Kalimba gives you the feeling of luxury.

Now, this is handmade. And Gecko sourced high-quality mahogany to make the body of this instrument. As for the tines, they decided to go for ore steel. In combination, these two materials give the Kalimba an outstanding look.

But beyond the looks, the mahogany body and ore steel tines also give this Kalimba its characteristic sound. It’s a clean and very clear sound.

In feel also, we are impressed by the Gecko 17 Key Kalimba. It’s superb and you’ll love running your fingers over this instrument.

It is moderately priced, although we wouldn’t exactly call it budget. And so, to protect your investment, Gecko gives you an EVA protective box. This screams of quality and will definitely keep your Kalimba safe in case of accidents.

If you wish, you can combine this with other instruments for a recording session or a performance. It blends well with other instruments, such as ukuleles for instance.

Finally, for those without any piano, drums, Kalimba, or experience on any other instrument, you need not worry. Buying this also gets you access to Gecko’s professional learning guide, which should show you the ropes nicely.


Gecko 17 Key Kalimba

Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros
  • Solid, handmade construction.
  • Clear, beautiful sound.
  • Comes with a Kalimba learning booklet.
  • Looks and feels high end.
Cons
  • Sometimes, a few keys come a little loose, making the instrument difficult to tune.

4 Ammoon 17 Key Kalimba

Ammoon is a brand that can be trusted, as they have proven to us with several products. So, we’ve decided to include one of their kalimbas in our review – the Ammoon 17 Key.

Besides the 17 key, this brand also carries a 10 key Kalimba for those who prefer fewer keys.

This is another high-quality Kalimba from a brand that knows its stuff. It’s made from African piano wood which is really cool, especially considering the Kalimba has African roots. So, you can be sure that this is going to give you an authentic sound, which is as close to the real deal as possible.

It comes with three sound holes including two at the back. These help to create a superb rich resonant sound when the instrument is being played.

Looking at this Kalimba, you’ll see an instrument that promises to give an exotic feel. Mainly thanks to the African piano wood used to make it. And with the way the makers painted the tines, the entire ensemble looks quite enthralling, as well as, soothing at the same time.

This 17 key Kalimba comes with carbon steel tines. These improve the sustain and provide nice clear ringing notes.

All in all, if you want something that’s truly portable, like palm-size portable, then the Ammoon 17 Key Kalimba is for you.


Ammoon 17 Key Kalimba

Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Pros
  • Small, lightweight, and portable.
  • Rich sound.
  • Made from African piano wood.
  • Enthralling looks.
Cons
  • Instruction manual isn’t exactly clear enough to help with using the instrument.

5 Walter.D Mahogany Tone Wood Kalimba

The first thing that caught our eye when we saw the Walter.D Mahogany Tone Wood Kalimba is its unique color. This is the first Kalimba in our review without the traditional natural finish and comes in an ocean blue color.

If you’re that sort of person that likes to stand out from the crowd, the Walter.D Kalimba is for you. Well, it would appear that standing out can be an expensive pastime, as this comes in a bit pricier than the other Kalimbas we’ve reviewed so far. But, if that isn’t such a big deal, then, this is a great buy.

If you’re out of ideas on what to get a budding musician as a gift, then consider the Walter.D Mahogany Tone Wood Kalimba. Anyone would love to unwrap this little blue Kalimba on their birthday or at Christmas.

The wood itself is mahogany, and of solid quality, we might add.

Of course, the mahogany body also enhances the superb sound from this instrument, as well as the sustain, which is impeccable, nearly perfect, in fact.


Walter.D Mahogany Tone Wood Kalimba

Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros
  • Unique, eye-catching ocean blue color.
  • Small and lightweight for portability. Plus, it comes with a bag.
  • Solid and durable construction.
  • Impeccable sound quality.
Cons
  • An isolated complaint about quality control.

6 Larkyueqi 17 Key Mahogany Kalimba

Our next 17 key Kalimba comes from Larkyueqi. It’s a high quality instrument with a mahogany body and vibrato holes to boost the sound. You can cover the holes with your fingers when playing to vary the sound any way you want. All in all, this Kalimba looks delicate and beautiful.

To add to the brightness and color of its timbre, the makers of this instrument include adjustable springs in the Kalimba. These give the instrument a wonderfully rich sound that will really impress listeners.

Now, this is probably the lightest Kalimba in our review, weighing in at 9.3 ounces. This could be slightly due to the fact that the tines are made from aluminum alloy. As you know, aluminum is lighter than carbon steel and most other metals.

Although this produces really melodious sound, we still think that it doesn’t sound as good as a Kalimba with tines made from harder metals. But other than that, this sounds great.


Larkyueqi 17 Key Mahogany Kalimba

Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros
  • Quite affordable.
  • Very lightweight and easy to travel with.
  • Comes with adjustable springs to enhance the sound.
Cons
  • The instructions are written in Chinese! So, it’s a little out of place in the US market.
  • A few notes are a little hard to play.

7 ADM 17 Key Kalimba

Here is another easy-to-learn on Kalimba, for those without any musical knowledge. It comes with a music book, so there’s help for you if this is your first time venturing into Kalimba.

The ADM 17 Key Kalimba is an exciting folk instrument. It’s compact size make it really lightweight and portable. It also comes with a carry bag.

It features a mahogany body and stainless steel tines. These materials will keep your Kalimba sounding and looking great for years to come.

It’s quite similar to the last Kalimba we reviewed – the Larkyueqi 17 Key Mahogany Kalimba – in that it also comes with adjustable springs, which are used to enhance the sound.

In all, we love this instrument, especially because it’s so moderately priced.


ADM 17 Key Kalimba

Our rating:4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

Pros
  • Quite affordable.
  • Small sized and lightweight for portability.
  • Comes with music book to help novices.
  • Adjustable springs to enhance sound.
Cons
  • Might well be slightly out of tune on arrival. However, that can easily be fixed.

8 Ubeta 17 Key Kalimba

Next, we have the Ubeta 17 Key Kalimba. It’s an excellent instrument with 17 keys and round sound holes. The body is mahogany and the tines are made from carbon steel, making the instrument very durable.

Aside durability, the construction of this Kalimba also makes it lightweight. It’s 15.5 ounces make it super easy to move around. Plus, it comes with a bag, which can be used for storage and to carry it around when traveling.

We love the fact that the Ubeta produces a brilliant sound with minimal effort.

And if you’ve never played an instrument before, they have included an instruction booklet. It’s easy to understand and will have you playing the instrument like a pro in no time.

Finally, this comes in a beautiful, deluxe box which makes it a fantastic gift. It also arrives perfectly tuned. So, right out of the box, you can begin to enjoy your Kalimba without having to alter the instrument very much.

When it does eventually slip out of tune, the tuning hammer makes it easy to set it back in tune.


Ubeta 17 Key Kalimba

Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros
  • Arrives perfectly tuned.
  • A beautiful, deluxe box makes it a great gift.
  • Easy to tune.
  • Excellent construction.
Cons
  • A few keys are a little difficult to play.

9 Vangoa 17 Key Kalimba

In case you didn’t know, some Kalimbas come equipped with a pickup. So, for those who like to rock it loud and proud, this is the perfect Kalimba for you – the Vangoa 17 Key Kalimba. It still sounds like your typical Kalimba but, you can do so much more with it sound wise.

As you probably know, a pickup makes it possible for you to hook the instrument up to an amplifier. Exactly as you would do with an electric guitar. This means that you can turn up the volume and use this for onstage performances.

Be careful though, pickups do tend to detract from the exotic sound of your Kalimba a little. So, you might experience a different sound with using the pickup and when you don’t.

Even though the Kalimba is not supposed to be altered in terms of its sound when amplified, there are no rules that say that it can’t be. So if you want to play a distorted, screaming Kalimba solo through a guitar amplifier on max, then go for it. Experimentation and innovation are, after all, how great music is made.

Anyway, the Vangoa 17 key boasts great acoustics. The mahogany body and mineral steel tines are lovely and give this Kalimba a great sound. Plus, with the quality of construction, the instrument looks like it will last many years of use.

The tones it produces, are beautiful, heartwarming and relaxing. Plus, it’s really easy to play which makes this a great instrument for everyone. And because it is really lightweight and small sized, it’s easy to move around.


Vangoa 17 Key Kalimba

Our rating:4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5)

Pros
  • Comes with a pickup to connect with an amplifier for onstage performances.
  • Sturdy and durable construction.
  • Great sound.
  • Small and lightweight for portability.
Cons
  • A few customers did not get a tuning hammer with this instrument.

10 Mugig Kalimba Mbira Thumb Piano

Lastly, check out this Mugig Kalimba Mbira Thumb Piano. It’s our second Mugig in this review, but will it be as good as the first? Read on to find out.

Now, Mugig makes this especially for kids, although adults can, of course, use it too.

Since it is meant to be used by children, it comes with 10 keys, unlike the 17 key models we’ve been reviewing. With 10 keys, the instrument is a lot easier for the beginner to learn on. And they can upgrade to a 17-key Kalimba when they are ready.

Kid instrument or not, Mugig pours a lot of excellence into the making of this Kalimba. The construction is top notch with a mahogany body and carbon steel tines. You can rest assured that this instrument will see years of use.

Even more, these materials ensure that your Kalimba sounds great. And the way the makers design these keys, you’ll find them easy to play. Plus, they also sustain very nicely which serves to enhance the sound.

Moreover, Mugig includes a music book in the package, which makes it easy to learn to play whatever your background in music is.

Finally, the Mugig Kalimba Mbira Thumb Piano sounds great when played with all kinds of instruments from the ukulele to the guitar. It complements their sound perfectly, giving you a fuller and richer performance or recording.


Mugig Kalimba Mbira Thumb Piano

Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros
  • Great choice for kids.
  • High-quality construction.
  • Easy to play and it comes with an instruction book.
  • Blends beautifully with other instruments.
  • Quite affordable.
Cons
  • Some customers complained about not receiving the tuning hammer and instruction booklet.

Buying Guide For Best Kalimba

In the next few paragraphs, we’re going to try to explain how to go about choosing the right Kalimba for you. And don’t worry, you’ll find the whole process a lot easier than you think it will be.

Which Kalimba Is Right For Me?

There are many kinds of Kalimbas, just like there are many kinds of musicians. So, it’s important to make the right pairing between them.

For instance, you might just be venturing into music for the first time and have decided to start out with the Kalimba. If this is the case, then you should get a budget instrument. You should consider something that can tutor you in the basic rudiments of music. Then upgrade when you’re ready.

Kalimbas that have between 5 notes and 12 notes are a good place to start.

kalimba

If, however, you’ve been playing another instrument for a while, then you don’t need to start from scratch. Instead of going for 5 to 12 note Kalimbas, you could jump straight into 15-note, 17 note or even a 2-octave alto Kalimba. Your background in music will help you navigate them pretty easily.

Now, for the skilled, your options are a lot broader, of course. You could go for a 15-note or a 17-note Kalimba. And if you’re feeling ambitious, you could even go for the chromatic Kalimba. With these instruments, you’d be able to write and compose all kinds of genres of music. These include folk, rock, classical, funk, etc.

Now, that that’s sorted, let’s move on…

Features Of A Kalimba

Here are the primary features of the Kalimba:

Sound Holes

You use the sound holes on your Kalimba to not only hear the sound but also to modulate it. This is done by covering the holes with your thumbs or fingers and then moving them away and back. This results in the modulation of the notes, giving you a simple “wah wah” effect.

Board-Mounted Kalimbas

When compared to box-mounted Kalimbas, board-mounted Kalimbas can’t be modulated to produce wha wah sounds. However, they are more durable than box-mounted models.

Also, you can drop your board-mounted Kalimba into a gourd. This will not only amplify the sound. But, will give a bit of a buzz effect which is how most Africans use them. If you haven’t or don’t want to use a gourd, try using some plastic kitchen bowls.

Gourd-Mounted Kalimbas

There are some Kalimbas that are permanently gourd-mounted. So, there’s a large hole on the top part of the wood, as well as, two small ones on the side. A gourd mount amplifies the sound especially over the mid-range frequencies.

best kalimba review

Resonator Frames

These give the resonance and wah wah effects you associate with the Kalimba.

Tuning

There are two aspects to tuning. The first is important as your Kalimba will periodically slip out of tune with use. The second is more experimental, such as tuning it to get different sounds.

To help with proper tuning, most brands include a tuning hammer and chart with their Kalimbas. This will ensure that you tune properly.

Tine Color

The color of the tines is not important to the sound of your Kalimba. However, they play a role in playability. The painting of the tines will help to serve as points of reference while playing. They also help you to transfer your notes from tablature to the Kalimba.

Wood Type

Kalimbas can be made from different kinds of woods. The most popular wood choice is the African hardwood Kiaat, which comes in a wide range of grain styles and colors (usually warm brown).

They are also commonly made from Sapwood, which is blond but can also sport black, red or blond highlights.

Besides these, Kalimbas also come in other solid wood options with interesting grain patterns and colors.

Conclusion

Deciding on our absolute favorite Kalimba was a bit difficult, considering the fact that all the instruments on our lineup are excellent. But after much thought, we decided to hand it to the…

…Donner 17 Key Kalimba.

We loved the fact that it was decently priced, was perfectly tuned, had a great sound and quality construction.

It’s a great Kalimba, so go get yourself one!

1 thought on “Top 10 Best Kalimba On The Market In 2019 Reviews”

  1. Dear Friends, have no comment but do have question. Am looking specifically for a Kalimba or similar type instrument with deep tones. Do not care for the high pitch sounds on some I’ve heard on internet. I can pick up things by ear and learn to play that way, but not familiar with musical notes, descriptions, etc. I guess most anyone could understand deep tones, bass? Anyhow, thanks for your time. Maribel

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