TUTORIALS: the diatonic kalIMba

Here you will learn everything you need to know about your instrument.
Note that this section evolves over time as more information is added.
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The way to hold the diatonic kalimba is the same as for a chromatic kalimba
Watch the video below

If you want to change the tuning, because you want something new or the wood and metal of the instrument have worked as a result of improper storage, you just need to follow this transposition wheel, and follow tutorial No. 1

How to MAKE the wheel?
  •    Print it on preferably thick bristol paper (or normal paper if you plan to laminate)
  •     cut out the two wheels
  •     place the small wheel on the big one
  •     attach them together in the middle with a brad. that's all!
How to use the transpose wheel?
The small circle: each triangle is separated by a half tone. The interval therefore respects that of a major scale with 1/2tone between 7 and 1 and 3 and 4. and a tone between all the other numbers.

If you put the 1 opposite the C (do), opposite each other colored triangle you will see your tones appear for the C (do) scale, the half tones opposite the white triangles. All you have to do is tune as indicated.
if you put the 1 opposite the B (si), opposite each colored triangle you will see your tones appear for the scale of B (si)
And so on!

I designed this transposition wheel to also help those who do not know music theory in transforming sheet music into numbered sheet music.
You have a drawing of the note with scope corresponding to each letter and each number.
I put the treble clef and the bass clef equivalent, since we come across it really often, the treble clef is the one most in the center, the bass clef is the one towards the outside




1) Hold your kalimba
The way to operate the chromatic and diatonic keys is the same. In this video, this is presented on chromatic
In this video you will learn how to hold your instrument in a way to avoid pain and make your playing easier!

The way to operate the chromatic and diatonic keys is the same. In this video, this is presented on chromatic





Even with clean hands, be aware that while playing, you sweat and that perspiration is acidic, which in the long run can weaken the metal of the kalimba and make it more likely to rust.
Ideally, you should clean your kalimba at the end of each musical session! Think of it like brushing your teeth after a good meal.

Simply use a soft, dry, clean cloth and wipe the keys to remove fingerprints. this should be done very regularly.

Regarding the body of the instrument:
For varnished or acrylic kalimba you can clean with a little soap.
For kalimba with a natural finish, take a soft cloth and rub without applying too much pressure. Let dry then finish by applying a little oil (olive or deodorized coconut) with a cloth. Leave the wood to soak for a few hours, then polish with a soft cloth. This cleaning on natural wood should only be done when the instrument begins to feel slightly sticky to the touch.

wood part of the soundboard: when you start to see areas that seem dry or you see dry fingerprints appear - the fingers drink the oil -, pass a very thin film of oil on your instrument with a cloth, then let it absorb for a few hours. Remove the excess by rubbing with a clean cloth. Olive oil, natural and accessible, or deodorized coconut oil are very suitable and hypoallergenic choices.

The resin part must be cleaned with a damp or dry cloth; preferably use a very fine chamois type window cloth or a microfiber glasses cloth.
If a scratch deep enough to be visible appears following an accident with a hammer or pliers, a small drop of liquid oil on the scratch, wipe, it will be much less visible, if you are a handyman you can also polish it with special products.

Know that playing itself is part of maintaining the instrument. The more regularly you play, the more the wood will work and the better the sound will be!

Make sure the keys are very clean and dry
If a scratch appears and it is annoying, it is possible to use a nail buffer

Buy a two-sided nail file, these files have the particularity of sanding very finely on one side, and polishing on the other.
  1. Take your kalimba
  2. File without putting too much pressure on the rough parts of your keys with the abrasive side of the file
  3. wipe the key to remove small residue
  4. Polish the key vigorously with the “polishing” side of the file
  5. Wipe again.
You will thus find the softness and shine of a good kalimba key . ❤

The choice of storage is important because there are many enemies to the longevity of the kalimba

  •    UV rays: risk of yellowing of your acrylic or resin instruments, change in color of the wood (becomes darker and often turns more brown whatever the color of the original wood)
  •   humidity
    is the worst scourge for this instrument, which causes the appearance of rust, swelling of the wood and even mold over prolonged exposure.
  •   The change in temperature can alter the wood and therefore the tuning: it is possible that the wood works and that it no longer takes on the frequencies in the same way. Only one solution: change the tuning of the instrument for a more serious alternative.
    Note that in stormy weather (hot and humid) the kalimba may start to buzz. Store your instrument securely in its case with silica gel sachets.
  •     Dust: it gets everywhere and is difficult to dislodge in certain places. it can cause buzz to appear, and if your keys are greasy, they will happily stick to them, creating a very sticky gunk that is difficult to clean!
  •     Shocks: We know that the kalimba is a rather sturdy instrument, but the soundboard can still be damaged, and the keys can go out of tune or even come out of the support!

The different storage methods

  •    Flat on a table without protection or on a wooden support
    In addition to the risk of falling, you expose your instrument to dust, humidity, and UV rays if you leave the instrument in the sun.
    The supports are intended more for the exhibition of a kalimba than for its storage, with a significant risk of falling.


  •     In a fabric pouch.
    It takes up little space and is inexpensive. This is usually what you automatically get when you buy a kalimba ! This protects against dust and sunlight, but not against humidity or shock. On the other hand, it's super practical for carrying around your kalimba in your bag when you're short on space and already have a very heavy bag!


  •     In a hard case:
    it's still the best storage solution. Your accessories no longer wander around, the instrument is protected from everything and what's more, it really goes out of tune less quickly. Note that it is strongly recommended to put a small silicon sachet (the kind found in shoe boxes) in the case to completely keep the instrument dry if you live in a humid area, a tropical climate, or if you are traveling. Only drawback: it's a little more bulky.