The popularity of thumb piano is only growing, and today you can find so many different types of this instrument. Kalimbas come in all shapes and sizes, and you can find models that are perfect for beginners, as well as ones designed for more experienced players.
But how much does a kalimba cost? If you are looking to get yourself a new instrument, the price can vary based on the type of wood, model, and a number of tines. The price range for this African instrument is between 20$ to well over 300$.
Based on the specifications, quality, and properties of kalimba, the price can significantly vary.
Lower Price Range For Beginners
The cheapest instruments you can find are below 30$. This way, you can get an affordable instrument that you can try out and see if that’s something for you. You can also start learning and use that kalimba until you become better and progress to the better instrument.
These kalimbas usually use cheaper wood and materials, and the quality is nowhere near exceptional. However, the thumb piano can still be fun, even if you don’t have as many tines as some other players. You will still have the possibility of learning and creating incredible music.
8-key Mini Kalimba For Beginners
One of the examples of low-end instruments is 8-key mini kalimba.
Not to say that this instrument is bad, but 8 keys put a lot of limitations for the player, and they won’t be able to play anything they imagine. Furthermore, the instrument is lacking “fine-tuning” that you will get with better instruments, as well as a resonating box. This also means that the volume will be quite lower compared to more expensive kalimbas.
8-key Mini Kalimba/Ornament
Another great example is kalimba/ornament. You can use this model as a regular thumb piano, and it can be quite a nice gift. But even if don’t want to play it anymore, you can still use it as an ornament. The instrument is made of solid wood, and it has eight keys.
The best part, of course, is that it is quite inexpensive, and it can be a nice instrument for a beginner.
SZRWD Acrylic Kalimba
If you want something a bit different, you can always get an acrylic instrument. This kalimba has eight keys, and it’s transparent. Unlike regular kalimbas that are made of wood, here you will have something a bit more artistic and unique.
As you can probably guess already, the acrylic kalimbas are rarely cheap, but they can be a nice instrument for someone who is just learning how to play thumb piano.
If you are looking to have some fun, for great stress relief, or to start experimenting with a new type of instrument, lower-priced kalimbas are an excellent idea.
Intermediate Price Range
Now, for the intermediate price range, the situation is quite different. You will be able to find excellent instruments that will undoubtedly satisfy your wishes. Most kalimbas in the intermediate range, or over 30$, come with a resonating box or unique design.
You can see from the start that a lot of work and care is invested in these instruments, and there are almost no limitations to the number of keys or sound that comes from it.
17-Key Moozika Kalimba With EQ
A perfect example is Moozica Kalimba which is around 60$.
This specific kalimba is in the key of C major, and it comes with everything you might need to maintain your kalimba and keep it in tune. It has seventeen tines, which is the most common type of thumb piano. Even though there are 17 keys, there is still only a C major scale available, but in two and a half octaves. It also has an internal pickup, which will allow you to plug it into an amplifier, or your PC and use it similarly to electric guitar.
With resonator and a pickup, you can be sure that the sound quality from this instrument will be amazing.
Acrylic Cat-Shaped Kalimba
We already had an acrylic kalimba, but using this material doesn’t necessarily mean that the instrument is cheap or bad. A perfect example are cat-shaped kalimbas.
These are excellent kalimbas for both beginners and more experienced players. The absence of resonator is not a problem, and many professional musicians use similar models.
When it comes to quality, this kalimba is great, and you will enjoy every single second you spend practicing, especially if you are a cat lover.
There are also similar models with different designs, materials, and a number of keys that also fall in the same price range as acrylic models shaped like a cat’s head.
17-Key Muspor Kalimba
For all of those not willing to experiment, or those who simply enjoy traditional instrument, you’re in luck. There are great kalimbas that are not expensive, but will do a great job. A great example of these instrument is Muspor, and their 17-key kalimba.
This model is made of mahogany, have 17 keys, and it looks great. You will be satisfied regardless if you are a beginner or intermediate player. But the best thing is that it’s quite affordable. 17-key kalimbas are always a great choice, and being able to buy an instrument as good as this one is something you should consider.
With high-end instruments, you will get both the quality of sound and craftsmanship. However, it might be expensive. Similarly, to any other instrument, the prices for high quality can get rather high. When it comes to the kalimba, expensive ones can be over 300$. But having a high-end kalimba doesn’t mean that more expensive ones will have more keys. It only means that a person making it invested a lot of time and care into creating a unique and beautiful instrument.
One of the examples of high-end kalimbas is Sansula Renaissance. The instrument has eight keys but has a unique design and a new and exciting sound. This thumb piano has a drum skin that allows it to create sounds as no other kalimba can. Thanks to that, the price is a bit higher, and it is around 200$.
If you are looking for something unique and exquisite, Sansula might be a perfect choice. The main disadvantage of this kalimba is, of course, its price, and it is not something many can afford. But what else can you expect from a high-end instrument?
17-Key Kalimba Made of Sandalwood
Another one you can check is a beautiful 17-key instrument made of red sandalwood. This one also comes with stickers that you can use to mark each tine so you’ll never miss a key. It also comes with a built-in pickup, that will allow you to use it as an electric instrument. The package comes with a tuning hammer, stickers, protective case, and tremolo chain. Needless to say, the instrument is exceptional, and so is its price. The kalimba is nearly $400.
There is no doubt that each part of this instrument is designed with care and dedication, and it is rather obvious why the price is so high. It is not often that you see something as exquisite as this kalimba, and it is specifically desgined for all the kalimba lovers out there.
This is model is obviously designed for professional musicians, but that doesn’t mean that beginners can’t play it. If they can afford it, of course.
But the prices don’t end there, and you can even find instruments that are over 2,000$.
Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba
Hugh Tracey was an English etnomusicologist who spent his entire life recording and studying African music. It was Hugh Tracey who got inspired by African instrument mbira, and who became father of kalimba we have today.
He used Western music and its theory to create something inspired by Africa, but still unique and different. As you can expect, Hugh Tracey kalimbas are among the best ones you can find, and they can be a bit expensive. Not without a reason.
If you are looking for a high-end instrument, why not get the one that started it all?
What Affects The Price Of The Kalimba
Since the price range of thumb pianos can go from 10$ to $3,000 and more, you might ask what determines the price? The first and most obvious thing is quality. Cheaper instruments won’t be able to create as precise and defined sound as expensive ones. The frequency of each note is fuller if you go for the high-end one.
To achieve this difference and quality, craftsmen use different types of material to create different sounds. Naturally, the acrylic or plastic instruments will rarely have as beautiful tones as ones made of wood. The price and quality of wood can also have a major impact on the price. You can find instruments made of mahogany, kiaat, rosewood, pinewood, birch, etc.
Tines are usually made of metal, and its quality can also make a difference in price. The goal is to make it sound good while keeping quality over time. More expensive instruments use spring steel, while lower ones use cheaper ores.
Finally, creating something beautiful and unique as kalimba takes time and knowledge. It’s not rare to find a hand-made instrument with incredible finish and design. But they will usually cost more, and add a bit to the overall price of the instrument.
Does More Expensive Means Better
Now that we covered all of “hows” and “whys”, does more money mean a better instrument? The answer is yes, but to a point. Getting a cheap instrument will undoubtedly mean lower quality. But getting an expensive one is almost always a good thing. However, there is a thing called diminishing returns. It means that the rule applies to a certain point, after which it becomes less and less relevant.
If you take guitars, for example, a $100 instrument is not as nearly as good as $500 one. A $500 guitar is almost certainly not as good as a $1000 instrument. However, a guitar that’s 2 or 3 thousand has almost the same quality as a $1000 one. The difference is in taste, preferences, and different specifications of the instrument.
The same applies to kalimba as well. Getting a good thumb piano doesn’t mean that you have to spend a thousand dollars. If you buy one of the high-end kalimbas we mentioned, you will undoubtedly get the quality you desire. But after a certain point, the price doesn’t mean an increase in quality and it comes to a personal taste only. So, yes – a $150 kalimba is probably better than a $10 one. But, you don’t have to spend several thousand to get the kalimba you will enjoy.
Kalimbas come in all shapes and sizes. You can get different keys, a number of tines, colors, materials and so on. The price is mostly based on the quality of materials and the sound that comes from the instrument. If you are looking to buy kalimba, you will need to spend at least $10. However, the price can get a lot higher. High-end instruments made from mahogany and other high-quality wood are in a price range of $200-300. While it is possible to find kalimbas worth a couple of thousands, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a beautiful sounding instrument.
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