If you’ve been considering purchasing a kalimba, you may be wondering what key you should purchase.
Fortunately, there is a relatively easy answer.
If It’s Your First Kalimba
If you’re purchasing your first kalimba, you’ll almost certainly want to purchase a kalimba in the key of C Major (which I’ll hereon refer to as just ‘C’.)
This is because the vast majority of kalimba tabs you’ll find on the internet are written for kalimbas tuned to C, as it’s the most common. When purchasing a kalimba online, you can usually assume it’s in the key of C unless the sales page specifically mentions otherwise.
The key of c is equivalent to the white notes on a piano – it contains no sharps or flats. Therefore, a kalimba in the key of C will contain the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. Note that on 17-tine kalimbas, these notes span several octaves, giving you room to play a wider variety of songs.
Note however that just because a kalimba arrives in the key of C, it can be adjusted to other keys by retuning it with a tuning hammer. Many kalimbas come with one included.
If You Already Own A Kalimba
If you already own a kalimba that’s tuned to C, you may want to consider purchasing a second kalimba that’s tuned to whatever key is the most common you intend to play songs for. This way, you won’t have to spend time retuning your kalimba just to play the occasional song that isn’t in the key of C.
This will also allow you to play many songs in their original key, rather than transposing them to the key of C for simplicity’s sake.
The 2nd most common kalimba key is the key of G Major. G Major contains the notes G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#. While you can certainly buy kalimbas that arrive tuned in the key of G Major, you can also re-tune a kalimba that’s already tuned to C by following the tutorial below:
Alternatively, you may wish to purchase a chromatic kalimba. While these are significantly more complex to play, they give you the added benefit of being able to play music in any key, because they have all the extra notes already on them.
Is It Seriously Worth Buying An Extra Kalimba, Just To Save A Few Minutes Of Time?
This was something I had to honestly ask myself, and it really comes down to…
- How patient you are.
- How often you play kalimba.
- How much money you have to spend.
Fortunately, kalimbas are an instrument that’s honestly not that expensive. While I’d be hesitant to recommend you buy a bunch of kalimbas if you’ve never played one before, there’s no harm in purchasing a second or third when you’re ready to do so. Being able to just pick up a kalimba with whatever key you need is incredibly convenient, which means you’ll probably spend more time actually playing it.
If you need to justify the purchase though, you can always consider picking up a different type of kalimba than your original one. For example, purchasing a flat board kalimba or an acrylic kalimba if you already own a hollow wooden one.
This way, you also get to experience the subtle differences that each different type of kalimba can provide.
Ultimately, the key of your first kalimba isn’t something you need to spend a lot of time worrying about, as it can always be adjusted if need be.
However, most tabs are written in the key of C Major, and therefore, it makes sense to purchase a kalimba in this key unless you have a specific reason not to.
When you’ve been playing kalimba for a while and you’re ready to purchase a second one, purchasing a kalimba in a different key can save you time and open up additional possibilities.
Thank you for reaching this article – if there are any questions that I can answer for you, just let me know!