I finished my long-threatened swiss-army kalimba today. The Rumba Stick (see the album for details on the pictures) is a rake-tine kalimba mounted on the top of a previously-rejected Carlos Toraño Ovation box. I rejected the box because the "pretty" finish turned out to be some icky plastic coating, with even the bottom covered in nasty faux velvet (what were they thinking?)
Later I started the kalimba part, loosely following Dennis Havlena's plans for a rake tine kalimba.

I got frustrated with trying to tune it, and set it aside. At one point I threatened to make it into
a bass, and just leave the kalimba tines as sympathetic chines. Today, I got around to it: I used the rake handle as a through-neck, and put an old drawer.handle on the now-stripped back (masonite,
no less) as a bridge.

I used an old furniture screw to mount a prototype "jingle" instrument on the top of the handle, to allow the beer-caps to ring when the stick is thumped to the floor or shaken.

I strung up the bass with eyebolts and weed-whacker line left over from my "doodle base" build. The two strings are tuned to a low G and the D below it (the root and dominant of the kalimba's diatonic scale).
I also managed to get the kalimba tunable by screwing in a third screw in the center, allowing me to keep enough tension on the bar to keep already-tuned tines stable.

I can play simple melodies on the kalimba with one hand, and pluck the bass strings as "drone" notes with the fingers holding the stick. To get other notes on the bass, I would need to turn it upside down and "fret" it against the handle like a washtub bass.

I'm pretty happy with the funky, sculptural quality. Don't know that I will be playing out with it anywhere, but it has been a lot of fun to push it to completion.

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Replies to This Discussion

You may have stumbled onto something, Tres. Good things sometimes come from things that don't work out like we planned. Love that box.
Determination pays off ! What a wild and crazy build. I love it, it is one of the best ever, originality over the top.
Coooooooool build, Tres! Post some tunage...stat!
Cool build, Tres! I like the total funk factor that you have going with this thing.... looks like it would be a lot of fun to play. I also hate what they did to those boxes with that plastic stuff and velvet.... I have a few in my collection as well. I thought they might make a better jewlry box or purse than they would an instrument but you've proved that theory wrong!
Thanks, all! Here is a quickly hacked-together recording multi-tracking all three main sounds:
play If that doesn't play for you, it is also the first track on my profile page.

Well by golly it's not Glen Miller or henry mancini, nor even Flatt & Scruggs, but it sure brought a smile here!

Gosh I'll bet you're having fun with it!



Crazy design.... I love unique & usual things. Way to go !!!!

WOW! Very unique and downright funky build, Tres. You've inspired me to find some material for the tines and get to work on one of these. Thanks for sharing your photos with us.


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