Freshly Made Cigar Box Kalimba

I just finished making my first Cigar Box Kalimba!

cigar box thumb piano kalimba

The thumb piano or kalimba is an African musical instrument, a type of plucked idiophone (lamellophone) common throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Also known as a ” sansa” and “mbira”, it is popular throughout central, western and eastern Africa.

This Cigar Box Kalimba is made from what I believe to be Spanish Cedar – as most find cigar boxes are. Cedrela odorata is a very important timber tree, producing a lightweight fragrant wood with very good resistance to termites and other wood-boring insects, and also rot-resistant outdoors. The wood is often sold under the name “Spanish-cedar” (like many trade names, confusing as it is neither Spanish nor a cedar), and is the traditional wood used for making cigar boxes, as well as being used for general outdoor and construction work, paneling and veneer wood. It is also the standard wood used for the neck of “classical”-style guitars, as well as for the linings of the guitar (tiny blocks of wood that attach the top and bottom of the guitar to the sides). It has a decent tone – I might make the hole larger – if that will make the sound louder (anyone know about this?). In honesty, I’ve spent at least one full hour tuning it and it’s still not exactly right – once I get it there, I’ll post a video with sound! If this isn’t a labor of love, I don’t know what is.

The kalimba is played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs.

cigar box kalimba thumb piano

More news on this coming soon – will try and post a video with audio so you can hear the sound. We are considering offering a kit like this – please sound off and let us know if you’d be interested in purchasing a Kalimba Kit! In the meantime, check out our serious selection of empty cigar boxes – perfect for making Kalimbas, Ukulele’s, Guitars . . .  purses . . .  lamps . . .  birdhouses . .  and tons of other things!

I can guarantee that it will NOT sound anywhere near as nice as this one does. This guy has got serious skills, I definitely could never wear that hat either.

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