The Differences Between a Kalimba & an Mbira

What's The Difference Between an Mbira & a Kalimba?

If you've been researching the kalimba, you may have seen it called an mbira as well. It may seem like they are the same thing, but there are actually many key differences between the two.

The mbira is a musical instrument from Zimbabwe, which was actually used to entrance people in its traditional purpose. It is said to have been created about 1000 years ago.

The kalimba is the modernized version of the mbira, which was slightly larger. It typically has 17 tines & is tuned to a traditional western music scale. It was invented merely 50 years ago by a man named Hugh Tracey, who we have written a previous blog about. 

Mbiras typically have 2 rows of tines compared to kalimba with only one. However, the number of tines on a kalimba may range from 5-20 tines. 

Kalimbas also have holes to create resonance when played that mbiras did not have. It makes sense to have upgrades on the kalimba since it is the modernized version of an mbira after all. 

If you are looking to buy one of these amazing instruments, I would strongly suggest a kalimba rather than an mbira. They are significantly easier to find, purchase, and play. Take a peek at our 4 designs and pick the one you like best :)

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