August 4, 2012
New Notes on Thumbnails
Sorry, Kalimba folk, I have no photograph - my autofocus camera can't focus on my THUMBS for
some reason - everything BUT thumbs are in focus on the photos.
Here is what I wanted to photograph - my new pointy thumb nails!
I have been playing a Bb Treble tuned up to C, working on songs to play with my band
Baba Marimba. They
like to play in C major, or A minor, or G mixolydian, or D dorian - all modes with notes in the
key of C, same as the Bb Treble tuned up to C. However, the tines are placed pretty close together,
and I was having a hard time playing precisely the tines I want to play, sort of like typing with
your toes, or trying to drive a mouse left handed. But then I realized the answer to this problem!
First, I played slowly for about 30 seconds and noticed exactly where on the thumbnail tips I was striking
the kalimba tines. I marked these points with my Sharpie marker. Then I got out the nail file and
started to grind away the parts of the nail that were not black. I made my thumbnails more pointy!
With these pointy nails, I am now better able to play exactly the Treble tine I want to play, because my picks are more target-specific. Can you see the picture in your mind?
Kalimbas that would rather have more round-ended thumb nails include: karimba, pentatonic, alto,
Sansulas, and all Catania kalimbas. Why? There is more space between the tines on these instruments,
and you don't need the pointy nails. In fact, if you do glissandos, the pointy nails tend to get stuck.
Now, when I play karimba with my pointy nails, I sort of turn the points inward, and play on the side
of the points, as I don't want to grind my pointy nails down to nothing.
Here is an idea: get two pairs of
and grind or cut one of them to be pointy, and the other to be more blunt or rounded on the ends, and you can
use the pointy one for Trebles, and the other for Altos and other kalimbas.