Kalimba (thumb harp) playing skills and noise repair

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Kalimba (thumb harp) playing skills and noise repair

September 04
13:52 2020
Kalimba (thumb harp) playing skills and noise repair
Fingering the keys with your fingernails is recommended, rather than playing with flesh alone. Nails should be around 3mm in length. In practice, with a downward movement, the flesh of the fingertips touches the keys first, so the sound of fingernails hitting the keys is not obvious.

There are people who like to play the karim ba by fingers, and over time the fingertips will grow calluses. In the early stage of playing, it is inevitable to feel pain in the fingertips, and gradually find a suitable way to play.


For pianos like GECKO, where the keys are straight and flexible but not particularly slippery, the fingers clasp the keys, touch them with the fingertips and fingernails, and then run across each key in turn to make a sound.

Try not to drastically change the position and direction of your hand.


The tuning

The tone of the newly bought violin may be inaccurate due to the bumpy delivery. After playing for a period of time, certain notes will also be deviated. Sometimes it’s even necessary to change the whole kalimba in your hand.

So tuning is a very common thing.

The tuning1

Use a professional tuner, or a phone tuning app, and touch each key.

The tuning

As shown in Figure 1, when the key is low, use a small hammer to lightly hit the key up, making the lower part of the key a little shorter. Figure 3 shows that the pitch is a little higher, just go down, and the lower end is a little longer.

If you practice frequently, you may need to tune up every week. The whole process won’t take much time, unless the whole tune is changed.

Murmurs repair

Whether it’s a new piano or one you’ve been playing for months, you can have (sudden) noise problems.Sizzles can appear at any time, any place, on any karimba. A piano bought, played for a few days, then left it idle, it became angry. On a frequently used instrument, if there is a noise on a certain note, the keys are usually tweaked left and right, and then the instrument is played again.

PS: Africans put seashells or soda caps on kalimba to create a “hiss” sound while playing. A removable sand hammer is mounted on an Afro to achieve this effect.

Here are some fixes:

Fine tuning method

You can try to fine tune the keys first, lifting them up slightly and then putting them down. If the noise disappears, fine tune the keys to make them evenly distributed. Generally speaking, the range should not be too large. This approach has been able to solve most of the noise problem, if after trying to still have a sound, you can use the pad of paper method.

Paper method

Cut a piece of ordinary office paper into thin strips about 0.3cm×3cm. The paper should not be too thick, otherwise the pronunciation will be affected. Lift the scratchy keys, slide the note between the keys and the lower pillow, press down the keys, and tear off any excess paper. This works well for the low and middle keys, but not so well for the high keys, because the keys themselves are short, which may affect the resonance of the keys. It is suggested that fine tuning method be used for keys in high pitch area.

As a matter of fact, it would not be very ugly if the piano was covered with paper. When I saw foreign gods playing the Karim ba, not only did the paint drop on the piano, but also several keys were covered with paper. They could still play very well.

Noise problems caused by pickup

If there is a noise problem on a piano with a pickup, it may have something to do with the pickup. How to judge? If a key produces a hissing sound and the noise disappears when you insert the connector into the pickup, the noise may be due to the fact that the key resonates with the pickup outlet somewhere. You can put your finger in the case and gently touch the internal pickup, then check to see if the noise is gone, and finally make sure the pickup is still working.

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