BugsGear Chromatic Kalimba

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Acoustic and Plate type

  • Have you ever been frustrated because you couldn't play your favorite song without a semitone? Good news for you! A chromatic kalimba that allows you to freely change the key while playing is now available! Easy to learn and play, it can be played widely from beginners to experts. Enjoy music anywhere with the "Piano-type Kalimba", which is convenient to carry and weighs only 700g!

BugsGear Bridge System Patent
Grand Piano Kalimba | Bugs Gear

Patented bridge system

Grand piano shape

Features of "Piano-type Chromatic Kalimba"

* The Tines layout is the same as the piano
You can grasp the position of the sound at a glance, and you can play immediately.
* Uses already tuned integrated key
No tuning required forever once it's tuned!
* Chromatic (chromatic scale, 12 tones per octave)
You can freely make any key transpose or semitones during play!

* 21 whole tones + 15 semitones, 36 sounds in total
A wide range of two and a half octaves in total for you!
* Variety of performance that is not bound by the limits of existing 
  kalimba

Melody, backing, and even chords. This chromatic Kalimba gives you all kind of variation like a traditional piano!
* Acoustic engineering design
Rich resonance and volume!
* Convenient to carry
Succeeded in miniaturization with a two-layer structure of white key and black key. Feel free to play anywhere!

* Piano sheet music can be played as it is

What is chromatic kalimba (piano type kalimba)?

As you everyone know, it's Made in Africa, they are called Sanza and Mbira, some people called Thumb Piano, which has a clear and beautiful tone, and many people who are tired of everyday life are looking for it for healing.
We newly analyzed these traditional Kalimba with a half-tone scale makes the tine arrangement in the same way as the piano keyboard that we are familiar with, and makes it possible to play as soon as you get the instrument.

Kalimba Piano Keyboard

Whole tone key 21 notes Semitone key 15 notes Total 36 keys 

Chromatic is a lexical term that means "semitone" and like a piano keyboard, there are 12 notes per octave, including E-F,B-C which is already have semitones. This chromatic kalimba has made it possible for those who have learned piano or keyboard instruments to play without having to learn or practice anymore.

So which scale is the existing kalimba?

Since it was started in Africa, the Englishman Hugh Tracey developed the folk instrument used for rhythm accompaniment when singing songs with a limited simple scale into a symmetrical key arrangement and spread it all over the world. The kalimba that was made is composed of a pentatonic (C,D,E,G,A 5 scales) or a diatonic (C,D,E,F,G,A,Bthat has only 7 notes) with no semitones other than the E-F and B-C per octave.

Pentatonic Scale & Tuning | BugsGear Kalimba

Pentatonic Kalimba scale and tuning

Diatonic Scale & Tuning | BugsGear Kalimba

The most popular 17-note diatonic Kalimba.there are various limitations, such as no semitones, an unfamiliar symmetric scale tine arrangement, and the need for new tuning in the case of key transpose.
The deceased Hugh Tracey also made a chromatic version after many attempts but it looks not that successful job

Hugh Tracy Chromatic Version Kalimba

Hugh Tracy's Chromatic version. Semitone tine located behind.
It's inconvenient as the semitone keys cannot be seen while playing.

BugsGear chromatic kalimba's sound

BugsGear Chromatic Kalimba story

Why isn't it similar to a piano at all while being a Thumb Piano?

Everything started with this question.
Pentatonic or diatonic kalimba has been popular all over the world since 1960, but I searched online to find out why there is no chromatic version and why the keyboard layout can't be like a piano. As a result, there are a lot of chromatic versions, but most kalimba has a custom version that is difficult to popularized because the keys are like hooks, unlike the piano keyboard layout, so I decided to make it by myself. Although it is the result of 2018 that I made (video below), development was stopped because there were various problems.

The idea was good, but it was difficult to turn the screw because the pressure of the key was so strong that the bridge supporting the key went deeper, and it failed due to the vibration noise of the screw, lack of sound, and uneven height of the black key.

As a result,we realized that it's not possible to make a piano keyboard array with conventional Kalimba tine mounting method.So,I worked out mount the key on the guitar or ukulele shape cascaded bridge, with tine like harmonica lead with rivets.

Cascade Type Ukulele Bridge | BugsGear

Tried cascade type ukulele bridge

Harmonica Type Reeds & Rivet Mounting Attempts | BugsGear

Harmonica type reeds and rivet mounting method has failed due to Inefficiency. 

Then, this time, I thought about integrating all the tines like a Orgel-music box

Orgel Music Box | Comb Teeth | BugsGear

Whole and semitone keys that imitate music box comb teeth
The Kalimba body was also designed by embodying the curve of a grand piano. But, there's still problem remained

English Tine Spacing Arrangements | BugsGear

As a result of various troubles, We solved this problem by making the direction of the tines diagonal, and tine spacing 4 mm, 32 tones total.

Playable Kalimba Setup | Thumb Piano | BugsGear

Now we can play the Kalimba with tuumb without a problem

As a result, a mass production availble piano keyboard-type chromatic kalimba was born, which no one had accomplished for more than 60 years since diatonic kalimba created.

Orgel Music Box | African Folk Instrument | Grand Piano

And it became a new musical instrument that combined the three elements of the Orgel-music box invented from Switzerland in the 1800s, the African folk instrument, and the piano keyboard method!

Kalimba-related patents owned by Stringnet

1. Methods and equipment for implementing the same chromatic kalimba as the piano keyboard arrangement

Chromatic Kalimba | Piano Keyboard Implementation

2. Method and equipment to add a semitone key to an existing diatonic kalimba

Adding A Semitone To A Diatonic Kalimba

BugsGear Chromatic Kalimba Specifications

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All parts of the BugsGear Chromatic Kalimba are designed by Philip.K with CAD confirmed the exact dimensions after pilot production.

BugsGear Chromatic Kalimba Dimensions

Message from BugsGear Chromatic Kalimba Designer Philip.K

Chromatic Kalimba Designer | Philip K

Although I had left it on the way, I finally made a chromatic kalimba for three years.
More than 60 years have passed without any function or performance improvement since its created by Hugh Tracey, but I would like to open up a new mass-production chromatic kalimba era with you.
This chromatic Kalimba's each part is designed by me with CAD, and after many component tests, in order to eliminate the error of the worker at the production, the whole production process is made of wood CNC, plastic injection molding process.The tines are laser cut, only the calimba body painting and assembly are made by hand, so accurate specifications and quality are guaranteed by developer.

Imagine children who are tired of hard piano lessons playing chromatic Kalimbar with fun and hope that it will be a little more healing instrument for everyone who are restricted due to infectious diseases.