Instrument-a-Week (2): Fruit-Box Kalimba

Posted by on Mar 1, 2014 in Instrument-a-week, Music, News


Difficulty:  3  of 5


  • 5-10 large hairpins
  • cardboard fruit – box
  • hardwood batten  0,5 cm * 1 cm * 100 cm
  • electric drill
  • drill 2,5 mm
  • strong glue
  • hammer
  • x-screwdriver
  • wood – screws M3 * 15-20 mm


  1. Hairpins should be broken into halves: position each flat onto a hard surface and hit a round part with the hammer. If the hairpin does not break itself, it could be easily broken into halves by hand.
  2. Determine the number of tines our kalimba will have and flatten the same number of halved hairpins – tines.
  3. Cut the wooden  battens into three equal-length pieces: length should be 2,5 cm * number of springs + 2 cm.
  4. Drill the holes 2,5 mm into 2 wooden battens: one hole at a distance of 1 cm from each end; the other holes 2,5 cm from each other the towards the  middle of the batten.Instrumen-a-week (2): Fruit-box calimba Photo: Peter Kus
  5. Lay the cardboard fruit-box flat bottom – up and position the two wooden battens into the center of it.  Mark the position of holes on the cardboard (with a drill or a pin).
  6. Glue the third stick firmly onto the inner side of a fruit-box, in a position opposite to the upper two sticks; use the hole marks in the cardboard as guides.Instrumen-a-week (2): Fruit-box calimba Photo: Peter Kus
  7. Place one drilled stick on the upper side of the fruit-box, aligning the holes. We position the tines, each in the middle of the holes, and place the other drilled stick on top of the assembly.  Fix all three sticks firmly together with wood screws.Instrumen-a-week (2): Fruit-box calimba Photo: Peter Kus
  8. Before finally tightening the screws, tune the instrument into a desired scale.  Do this by moving the springs up and down. On a kalimba, the  central tine is usually the the longest (lowest tone). The tine length is alternatively shorter  to the left and to the right of the central tine.  Play kalimba by plucking the tines with fingers.Instrumen-a-week (2): Fruit-box calimba Photo: Peter Kus

The kalimba originates in Africa and is a type of  “lamellophones” (a sub-group of the idiophones). It is also known as “thumb piano”, sansa, m’bira, sensei or likembe. Nowdays, kalimbas are very popular all over the world.

© 2014 Peter Kus



(1) Membranophone
(2) Moped
(4) Cardboard Tubophone
(5) Bird Whistle
(6) Froggy
(7) Water Flute