Ok so i made 3 Kalimbas with small cigar boxes i had. I used car wiper blades for tines.

They sound so different. I'm not sure if it's the sound holes but only 2 were successful really.

From left to right:

Left Kalmia is the loudest but the box is a good size and the sound holes are in the middle.

Middle Kalimba is horrible - i think it's the lid. It just buzzes and sounds rubbish.

Right Kalmia is quite nice but a lot quieter than the others - i like the shape though it fits nice in the hand.

I think i'll be making more but tuning them is really frustrating.

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Hello Estone;

Congratulations on your kalimbas they look great.  They are fun to make and play.  I have been making them for several years now and would like to offer some suggestions that may help you with future builds.  Although I have not used cigar boxes yet for mine but will do so soon.  The same principles apply for whatever kink of box is used.  I make my own from scratch using various woods.  I have also used wiper inserts and can say that the thickness of these tines seem to work better on smaller boxes.  Thicker tines work better with larger boxes.  (The larger the  inside of the box is the larger tines work better, and the thickness of the sound board makes a difference on the thickness of tines to be used also.  You will get the hang of this with the more you build.  I have used lawn rake tines which work great on the larger boxes with thicker tops.

The buzzing on the middle one may have to do with the tension bar not compressing the tines evenly.  I have had similar situations mostly when using thicker tines and the screws were tightened too much causing the wood to bow slightly although that may not be the case if you are using wiper tines.  Almost always the problem is the tine not having solid contact with the bridge for whatever reason.  Investigate that closely.  Here are a couple I made a few years ago, one with wiper blades and one with the lawn rake tines.

Keep up the good work and don't get discouraged, it will take some trial and error, that is part of the learning process.  By the way, I am still learning.



Sorry, meant to reply ages ago and completely forgot.

Thanks for the advice, it's all really useful for when i come across some small boxes again.

I know the buzzing you mean, i have had this too. Usually the outermost tines. This isn't the same buzzing though, it's the box construction. You'll notice that the middle box has a different type of lid to the others. It's the only box where you can see the side walls.

If i put pressure on the box lid the buzzing goes. The only way i can think of to rectify the buzzing is to glue the box shut.

But, to be honest, I'm just not going to make Kalimbas out of those kind of boxes again. It's frustrating enough tuning the instrument so i'm not going to use boxes i know i won't be happy with.


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