easily recognizable, it is equipped (with a few rare exceptions like the Seeds 20K) with a single row of keys , containing tones (to simplify, white piano keys)
What are the advantages and disadvantages?

  • lightweight, everyone can play it, even children.
  • easy to use, from a young age.
  • lots of choice (with sound box, without sound box, in a wide range of different materials!)
  • less visually impressive than a chromatic color which can sometimes be a little scary (wrongly)
  • no semitone (black piano keys) which means that if in a piece you have a semitone wandering around, you will have to retune a key to get the right note. And if you do sessions where you play several pieces, unless you have several instruments it can quickly become a real headache!
  • a fairly limited number of keys for those who really want to have fun (yes, we sometimes end up getting stuck even with 21 keys , because of the missing half tones!)
  • 3/4 of the time diatonic players end up feeling the need to switch to chromatic, finding themselves with one or more diatonics that are no longer needed on their hands.
  • frustrating for people who are already musicians!!!!!
We recognize it because it often has 2 rows of keys
One row is provided with tones, the other with half tones.
  • evolving instrument: beginners will focus on the row of tones, and add the semitones little by little, when the need arises or when they feel ready
  • Economic. Certainly when purchasing a chromatic is more expensive than a diatonic, because the instrument is more complete and the possibilities are much greater. But you avoid buying too many instruments (believe me, we quickly end up with a nice collection) which in the end will no longer all be played. a beautiful waste and not always easy to sell!
  • There are no more tuning changes to make! That's the huge plus. All your semi tones are there and just waiting for your fingers to sing! it's very useful!
  • depending on the type of tuning and the placement of the keys , the playing possibilities are varied, there are several, which leaves a lot of choice!
  • a very wide variety of timbres and tunings to suit all ears
  • The price. it is more expensive than a diatonic. in the trade, the price of diatonics varies (for a quality instrument) from 50 to 120€, diatonics range from 100 to 500€ for a kalimba with a resonance box! at poopoopidoo we are on a range between 100 and 150€ on kalimba with a full soundboard, and in this case, in the long term, it remains much more economical than the diatonic.
  • it weighs more
  • This can scare some people because the abundance of keys makes the instrument visually impressive.

Opt for a diatonic kalimba
-for a very young, very old audience, with a disability such as mental deficiency (need for simplicity and lightness)
-to offer a kalimba to a person who you are not sure will stick to the instrument (whether it is yourself or someone else!)
-in case of a very very tight budget.
-For purely meditative use

Opt for a chroma if
-You are sure that the person who plays it will be hooked
-If the person who will play it is already a musician or already plays the kalimba
-If you want to avoid ending up with a monstrous collection of diatonics before taking the plunge into chromatics (which happens in my experience about 80% of the time with people who are hooked)
-If you don't want to spend time changing keys tunings to get the right note
- if you want to make your own covers
- you like melancholic pieces or you have the habit or desire to play a lot of pieces one after the other p
-To avoid getting stuck due to lack of keys .


Choosing a kalimba can raise a number of questions that we will try to answer here! We will mainly focus on chromatics, but diatonic will also be approached sparingly.

Most brands today only tune in C and B. This is the norm.

Brands therefore often tend to have a “margin of error” where notes can be harsh or even downright silent. It costs less to replace the instrument of a dissatisfied customer than to waste time finding the perfect tuning for each piece of wood, when kalimba are manufactured by large companies, because the instruments come out of warehouses by the hundreds.

Regarding the non-redundant mode on a Chromatic kalimba , the reason is more technical: the keys sold commercially are not long enough to lower the tuning lower than in B.

It is important to know that the lower the tuning, the longer the keys , the longer the sounds last over time (therefore more beautiful highs!)

Budding musicians who go for C kalimba without looking further sometimes miss out on a choice more suited to their needs...

If you just want to play with scores or play alone, if you want to use it for musical therapeutic use or for relaxation, the redundant or non-redundant modes can both be suitable, so choose the one that suits you best and carefully select the tone and tuning, according to your health and your mentality (further in the article)

If you want to create your own covers from your hearing, without sheet music support, or play with other instruments, a C tuning is recommended, it is the simplest for this use.

To compose, those who already have musical background, those who want the most complete instrument possible, non-redundant tuning is recommended for its wider range. Those who want the most quickly acquired instrument should look to redundant kalimba .

The other selection criterion is your mental state, your state of health, because certain tunings and certain timbres may be better suited than others. ( of course there are always some exceptions, I'm speaking as a general rule)
The choice of the timbre of an instrument can therefore greatly influence the sensation of music, and have effects on your state of mind.
These observations come from my personal observation and discussions over the last 3 years with clients I have met physically.

Optimistic personality, without stress/anxiety, neuro-typical, and/or People who do not hear bass sounds : generally this type of public goes for all types of timbres , with a small preference for bright/crystalline instruments , see sometimes metallic , like a music box or a chime, with all the tuning possibilities.
C and B are appreciated by people with partial deafness who will hear the high notes better, and will sometimes need a sound box (if your instrument does not have a sound box, placing the instrument flat on a closed shoebox will amplify the sound.)
MODEL SUGGESTION: all kalimba fit. It's a question of taste
with a predominance for
Blossoms at night
Bora Bora/Coloradas

Anxiety disorder/stress : on the contrary, these people will often prefer more heat, more softness, more vibration, no metallic timbre, and a clear sound. In short, a search for a little cocoon of reassurance. The highs will tend to be aggressive, they can generate anxiety. Generally we will prefer mid and bass tunings G, F# F, and E, or even B non-redundant for the chromatics , rather A for the 17K or kalimba in 21K

Neuroatypical people (ASD, ADHD, etc.) or with neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's type) the search for sensations and gentle stimuli is generally the same as with anxious people because these disorders are often accompanied by anxiety. There is also hypersensitivity, which can be tactile, or auditive. An instrument with a poorly adapted tone can cause stress, physical discomfort and sometimes even distress or disgust.

The tunings suggested for autistic disorders are therefore the same as above, with a very pronounced taste of autistic people for #F and F in chromatic , rather A for 17K or kalimba in 21K
-Bora Bora/Coloradas

ADHD/ADHD in general this audience will prefer a tuning between G and F in chromatic
The E is often too low for neuro atypicals who like to have a little hint of "light" in their sound.
non-redundant B tuning is also suitable, because it provides less aggressive bass and treble than in C, but only on predominantly warm instruments)

For the timbre, A bright but non-metallic sound, with a little roundness, "balanced" timbres, atypical neuro people like to find a certain sound balance and great depth in their instruments.
-Mt doom may be suitable unless depression

Play music for babies
Little ones like crystal clear sounds without a metallic appearance and hear the highs better; they also need good sound projection so they don't have to play in their ears. I suggest a tuning in A (17K) a 21K diatonic or a non-redundant chromatic in A, G, or B so that the kalimba fits all babies
-Me(LL)ow 17 and 21
-Blossoms at night
-India 17K

For a person suffering from hyperacusis , they do not need a metallic timbre or crystalline lenses , they need roundness, softness and a low sound volume, therefore no resonance box . The tunings chosen are ALWAYS F or low E.
-olivewood (for very severe hyperacusis)

What agreement to offer, in case of doubt?
A G or an F# . you are therefore right in the middle of the tuning range, impossible to go wrong, it corresponds to a large majority of the population!

IF you need more help with your choice, do not hesitate to send us an email! :)