Kalimba / thumb piano

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Project by Eddie G posted 02-04-2014 03:01 PM 2539 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here are pics of the latest project I made. It’s a kalimba or thumb piano. I made it out of flamed maple. The rosette is a broach I found at goodwill and cut the clasp off the back. I installed a simple piezo pickup with volume and tone making it electric. I went to the local music shop and got an old clarinet case for $8. Took out the guts, cut some scraps to fit the kalimba and covered it with new felt from jo-Ann’s fabric. This I made for my daughter Isabella’s 13th birthday present. I took it in to the music shop to show the owner and he held it up and said “if Fender made KALIMBAS”. Turned out pretty good. Sounds beautiful. And Bella liked it. Enjoy. The wood and keys came as a kit from Robert Renick thank you for providing a quality base for a special gift for my baby sunshine.

-- Ed G., Hillsboro, Oregon, U.S.A.

8 comments so far

View BigDaddyO's profile


136 posts in 3996 days

#1 posted 02-04-2014 03:22 PM

wow, very nice. I have been thinking about making one of those for my kids for a while. Though, i don’t think mine will look that nice.


View PaulDoug's profile


2610 posts in 2922 days

#2 posted 02-04-2014 03:59 PM

Beautiful! Can you post w video of it being played? I’ve never seen an electric on before.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View drbyte's profile


848 posts in 5281 days

#3 posted 02-04-2014 04:00 PM

Beautiful job on a beautiful instrument. Love these things. I may have to electrify my next one. Broach was a great idea!. What kind of wood did you use for your bridges? Keep them coming!!

-- Dennis, WV

View Roger Gaborski's profile

Roger Gaborski

341 posts in 4967 days

#4 posted 02-04-2014 09:50 PM

Looks good. Did you dye the wood green?

-- Roger

View Eddie G's profile

Eddie G

44 posts in 2793 days

#5 posted 02-05-2014 11:37 AM

The bridge wood was just pine dyed black. There is a brass rod imbedded in the bridge so the wood is really inconsequential. I did dye the green with the first coat blue then lightly sanded to give the grain depth. Here is a video of an electric kalimba: My daughter has the one I made and I will take a video of it played when I can. As I stated previously, go to and tell Robert Ed sent you… Thank you all for the kind words.

-- Ed G., Hillsboro, Oregon, U.S.A.

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 3655 days

#6 posted 02-05-2014 09:55 PM

Very, very nice! Sure beats any others I’ve seen before.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4251 days

#7 posted 02-05-2014 10:51 PM

Very Nice Project Indeed! Beautiful Work! Thanks For Posting!


-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3646 days

#8 posted 12-11-2014 08:29 AM

A very popular instrument in Northern Rhodesia, almost every fifth person walking about had one of these Kalimba’s only thing they were made with ‘bush materials’ a hard gourd was usually the sound box with roughly carved wood key holders and the metal keys tightly lashed on with telephone wire. The people would play them constantly as they walked along their journey through the winding paths from one village to the next.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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