Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Latest Kalimba Creation

During the Christmas holidays this year, I had some extra time on my hands, so I finally got around to assembling some kalimbas from materials which I purchased over a year ago. They are really simple to create, in fact I bought the wood already cut at Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) store. The wood is alder, 1/4" thick, and the top and bottom pieces come in 5" x 24" planks, and the side pieces come in 1.5" x 24" strips. I cut the basic box to measure 5" x 8" x 2". Really simple, only a few cuts with the saw and you're ready to glue it together. The clamp is made from U channel, cut from an old shelf bracket (you know the movable shelfs that you attach to the wall. A piece of aluminum bar (also from OSH) clamps the keys. The only part which took a bit of looking was the spring steel for the keys.
On an earlier prototype, I used the fingers from an old rake. But the best supplier for new material is Music Kits. They have it in any length you want. If you're not one for cutting, you can also purchase a complete kit from Music Kits. In fact, they have a wonderful selection of kits to assemble everything from a harp, to a guitar, to a banjo.

The Kalimba has 8 keys, and it has a diatonic tuning in the key of G major. Tuning a kalimba is bit of a chore, but I've quickly learned that if you make the key a little sharp (too short) then it's easy to tap it into tune a bit at a time from the rear (top) of the kalimba. Having a digital tuner helps a lot.

The picture below shows the basic contruction of the kalimba.

I decided to finish one of the kalimbas as a "going away" gift for one of my friends from work, Cordelia. I wanted to do some woodburning and she loves birds so she asked if I could put a raven on it. I wanted to do something Native American style and I found a wonderful image of a North Western Pacific style raven, which I woodburned on the back of the kalimba. You can see the work in the image below.

 Posted by Picasa


Cordelia said...

So far I've learned how to play "The Girl I Left Behind Me" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." It's actually a very cerebral musical instrument! Thank you Mike!


Anonymous said...

Awesome raven!