Here’s a mini review for a mini kalimba!
The K-8CM is an interesting little piece. Small, very portable. It’s about 7.5 cm (3 inches) wide by 10.5 cm (4.25 inches) long and 2 cm (0.75 inches) thick. It’s pretty small!
It comes with a nice little tassel (usually in a random color) and has a cute lily pad design that is mostly hidden by the tines.
It’s in the Major Pentatonic scale, so it only has five notes (via eight keys). G4, A4, C5, D5, E5, G5, A5, C6. So, it’s missing the B and F keys. This is by design.
If you’re familiar with music theory (or read our post on it), you should be familiar with steps between notes. The Major Pentatonic scale eliminates all half steps, leaving only whole and 1.5 steps / intervals, so every note you play sounds great together. It’s amazing for relaxation. You can just strum the tines and completely zone out.
Here are some random notes. (We’ll be replacing all the audio with non-fuzzy/noisy versions soon!)
Here are the scales.
One really interesting feature is the ability to mute the notes you play by gently squeezing the wood. It’s a pretty neat effect!
You can’t really “wah-wah” it; it just immediately deadens the sound.
So, you might imagine that you’d be limited in what songs you can play on this – and you’d be absolutely right. Lol But there are a few. (Same disclaimer about the audio, plus the rhythm needs work.)
Auld Lang Syne
There are a bunch of others, too. For inspiration, we looked to https://www.onlinepianist.com/op-blog/13-songs-that-can-be-played-using-only-the-pentatonic-scale/ and https://www.bethsnotesplus.com/2012/02/pentatonic-songs.html. There are definitely more.
You can find it on Amazon (US) for about $22 ($15.99 + $5.99 shipping): https://amzn.to/37aJ2Xv (There seem to similar ones for sale there if you search for “mini kalimba”, but we have not tested them yet.)
You can find them on Aliexpress from several different sellers for about $12 – $15 with free or nearly free shipping. Example: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/pHA1E5ve (Searching for “Gecko 8” will bring them up.) They sometimes have coupons for new customers, which can lower the price further.)
We don’t have non-US info offhand, but Aliexpress ships pretty much everywhere.
One nice side effect of learning this kalimba is, similar to our experience with the K17NOTE, it forces you to actually hear the songs. So you can learn a song on this one, and then play it on your regular kalimba (sans tabs or sheet music). It really helps with your ear training!Looking for a good starter kalimba? If it's within your budget, we recommend the Gecko K17MBR. You can buy it here. We only recommend products from brands we know and trust. Sometimes, referrals to outside resources result in a commission, which is applied to the operation of this website and the free educational resources we provide. Please check out our commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
Im courius which wood sounds better on this mini kalimba,they sell a mahagony or a camphor version. Mahagony looks better for me,but the sound??
Hi! We have both. Let me track the other one down, and I’ll see if I can post a comparison video for you. 🙂
Yes, it would be great. I ordered already a mahagony butnits on the way. i ordered a k17cap too, but sadly i saw to late that they sell a mahagony version too. I like the dark color of this wood and its often used in guitars. cheers
I love the K17CAP. It’s one of my very favorites. I think you’ll love it. I live in the US and can’t buy the mahogany version here. (Not sure where you are.) I even wrote to Gecko and thru said it’s a special production. None of the sellers I’ve found for it are willing to ship it here. In general, I also prefer darker woods, aesthetically. But I do like the camphor a lot. It has a strong scent (initially). But I like it. I’m going to buy a resonator box version in camphor to compare the sounds. I think you’ll love the CAP, though. That was a great choice. 🙂
I am unable to tune this kalimba. I tried the insTuner app. It doesn’t make sense- only tunes to A with each tine. I am very frustrated!!
Can you explain a little more about what happens and how you’re using it? I use an external tuner now, but I’ve used that app in the past and didn’t have any issues (then). I can test the app version I have with mine. I haven’t heard of something like this happening before. Very strange! I’m sure it’s frustrating. (If you can share a video, that would be really helpful.)
I love this kalimba breakdown. I was searching for a cute fun instrument that my little kiddo can play and I think this will fit exactly. Thanks!