Mbira Things To Do. . .


1. Cut the bolts to 1" long so that they won't extend past soundboard.  This allows you to place your mbira on a drumhead or flat surface for increased volume and resonance.


2. Scribe a horizontal line across the keys along the center of bridge to mark tuning positon that you like.


3. Adjust spacing of the keys, and splay the keys out to the right and left from the center of the soundboard to make a more comfortable key position for your own hands.


4. Apply a few coats of linseed or mineral oil to the wood parts.


5. Experiment: Use the resources for ideas.  You can run the key diagram through a copier to enlarge or reduce the length of the keys.  Experiment with resonators (drumheads, gourds, cigar or other boxes, tin cans, styrofoam coolers, doors, etc.)


6. Attach a contact pickup for amplification.  Cheap "Red Dot" pickups are available from cbgitty.com, which is a good instrument resource.



Resources. . .



The Soul of Mbira, by Paul F. Berliner

African Music and African Sensibility, by John Miller Chernoff

Mande Music, by Eric Charry

African Music: A People's Art, by Francis Bebey




There is lots of mbira music on YouTube, both traditonal and experimental.  Searches for "mbira," kalimba" or "electric kalimba" will turn up tons of material.  Search for "Kevin Spears - Kalimba Man" for processed music, "Thomas Mapfumo" for chimurenga music (mbira music transposed for electric guitar which was the soundtrack for Zimbabwean independence), or "Konono #1" for loud homemade dance music from Kinshasha truckers.  Paul Collier's slideshow of a wide range of his available material and experimental lamellophones is a treasury of ideas.






​mbira (more resources)


Websites. . .

Kalimbamagic is a comprehensive website for music, info and product.


Paul Collier's Thumb Piano Project.


PointersforMbiraStudents page at Mbira.com is a first-rate informational site.


Wikipedia: There is some interesting information under "mbira," "electric lamellophone," and "Konono No. 1."