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. Find it on Amazon. Don't have Amazon in your country? Get $19 worth of free coupons for signing up on Aliexpress.