Tuning your Kalimba with 8, 17 and 21 blades

How to tune a Kalimba? Learn the Kalimba with Pawpaw

The best way to improve the sound quality of your kalimba is to tune it!
Having a good sounding instrument is essential for the musician.

It's now easy to tune your kalimba on your own with your smartphone, even if you've never tuned an instrument! We recommend 2 free applications for android and iphone in the tuning chapter, which are used for any type of instrument.

Fun (?) Fact: Pawpaw Kalimbas are all equipped with a Starter Kit, including the little tuning hammer!

A few tips for using the hammer properly:
Avoid holding them by the tip of the handle. You will be more precise and avoid damaging your pretty kalimba by holding it towards the head of the hammer.

right and wrong way to hold tuning hammer for Kalimba


Tuning your Kalimba 8, 17 and 21 keys

Easy tuning in Cmaj ( standard)
No matter how many blades you have, the tuning principle remains the same. We tune our kalimbas to C major, use the engraving on the blades to match those on the app.

Download one of these apps (depending on your smartphone)

  • gStrings on Android : Link
  • Tuner Lite on IOS : Link

To know which way to push the blade, you just have to follow this rule.
On the application, the arrow is either to the left or to the right of the desired note ABCDEFG. or (in order)

The blade will be tuned once the arrow is in the center.
There is no need to be right in the center to have a good sound, what matters most is the gap between the notes, try to remain homogeneous within the margin of error or otherwise aim more or less at the center .

For the example, we will tune the blade of E (mi):
  • If the arrow is to the left of E (on the app) , it's too serious (down), so we tap the blade of the Kalimba upwards.
    The sound will become higher
  • If the arrow is to the right of E (on the app) , it's too sharp (up), tap the blade of the Kalimba down.
    The sound will be more serious
kalimba tuning illustration for 17 blades 8 blades and 21 blades with application and tutorial

Then just repeat with the other blades. The diagram helps a lot if you don't have the note engravings on your reeds, or if you have an 8 or 21 reed kalimba and are confused about how to tune it.

Alternate kalimba tuning - To change your playing style (advanced!)

If you are advanced or adventurous, you can substitute the notes according to the sound you want. To keep the best tone, we advise you to stay on differences of 1/2 tone to 1 full tone max.

If your blades do not have engravings or if you need to tune an 8 or 21 key kalimba, you can use the diagram below for standard C major tuning

If you're still stuck and need visual explanations, we recommend these videos:
English: Here
French: Here

Free tuning app:

  • gStrings on Android : Link
  • Tuner Lite on IOS : Link

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