Build your own kalimba step by step

The enchanting melodies of the kalimba instrument have captivated music enthusiasts worldwide. Crafting your own DIY kalimba not only enriches your musical experience but also allows for a personalized touch. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps to create a beautiful DIY kalimba from scratch, ensuring you have all the knowledge to start this rewarding project.

How to create your kalimba

Materials You Will Need

Before beginning your project, gathering all necessary materials is crucial. Here’s a simple list to get you started:

  • Wooden board for the body
  • Metal tines (spring steel is commonly used)
  • Screws to secure the tines
  • Tuning hammer for adjustments
  • Wood glue and tools (screwdriver, saw)

Designing Your Kalimba

Designing your kalimba involves deciding on the shape and size, which directly influences the sound and playability. A typical DIY kalimba has a rectangular body, but feel free to choose a design that resonates with you.

Kalimba construction

Constructing the Body

The body of the kalimba serves as the resonating chamber, crucial for its sound. Start by cutting your chosen wood to size and carefully sanding it to smoothness. The dimensions typically range from 6 to 8 inches in length and 4 to 5 inches in width, but the size can vary based on your design preferences.

Attaching the Tines

Tines are the metal pieces that produce sound when plucked. Secure them at one end of the wooden body using screws, ensuring they are tight enough to produce a good sound but still flexible for tuning. The arrangement and length of the tines affect the notes and tones, so precision is key.

To read : Beginner's Guide to Reading Kalimba Music Sheets

Tuning Your Kalimba

Once the tines are attached, tuning is essential. Use the tuning hammer to adjust each tine to your desired pitch. You can use an electronic tuner for accuracy or tune by ear based on your musical preferences.

Discover our best kalimba

Final Touches

Adding personal touches such as varnish, paint or engravings can make your kalimba uniquely yours. These aesthetic additions do not affect the sound but enhance the visual appeal of your instrument.


Creating a DIY kalimba is a fulfilling project that not only gives you a unique instrument but also deepens your understanding of music. With the right tools and materials, anyone can construct a beautiful, personalized kalimba. Enjoy the process and the beautiful music that follows.

Frequently Asked Questions

What wood is best for a kalimba?

Hardwoods such as mahogany, walnut, or cherry are preferred for their density and sound quality.

Can I use any metal for the tines?

Spring steel is recommended for its flexibility and durability, crucial for producing clear tones.

How many tines should my kalimba have?

A standard kalimba has 17 tines, but models vary from 5 to 24 tines depending on the range desired.

Do I need any special skills to build a kalimba?

Basic woodworking skills and a good understanding of musical notes will help, but comprehensive guides can assist beginners.

How do I maintain my DIY kalimba?

Regular tuning and occasional cleaning of the tines and body will keep your kalimba in good condition.