15 July 2017

A Novel Stereo Kalimba Recording Technique

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Two electric kalimbas, plugged in, hard panned L and R

A Novel Stereo Kalimba Recording Technique

This unique recording technique results in lots of separation between the L and R notes in your recording, and you can be very creative when processing their individual sound.

I invite you to hear what it sounds like - headphones would make the separation effect complete, but I think it actually sounds better through stereo speakers. To listen, just continue reading.


I have taken two identical kalimbas - both are Hugh Tracey Alto kalimbas - and have plugged them into two different channels of my computer / audio interface. As I play, I hold the two kalimbas together with a washcloth between them, and play all of the left thumb notes on the left-side kalimba, going into channel 1, and all the right thumb notes on the right-side kalimba, going into channel 2.

Then I am able to process these two halves of the music totally independently. I have put different EQ and different reverbs on the two channels of kalimba, as if to give them slightly different personalities or colors, even though these two parts are like the two sides of one beating heart. To emphasize the separation, I have mixed the left thumb's channel all the way to the left, and the right thumb's channel all the way to the right. Of course, there are other creative choices available for the channel mixing.

The upside? You get totally separated left and right channels of kalimba in the recording.

The downside?  You need two kalimbas to do this.

They could be the same kalimba, but you might want to experiment with using different kalimbas. You could use kalimbas tuned to the same key, or kalimbas tuned to different keys. I think there is a lot of creativity to be found in this vein of stereo kalimba recording.

About the Author

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway has been playing kalimba for over 30 years.  He invented his kalimba tablature in 2004, and has been writing books and instructional materials for kalimba ever since.  His business, Kalimba Magic, is based on the simple proposition that the kalimba is a real musical instrument capable of greatness.  Mark's kalimba books are a down payment on this proposition.

Comments (1)

  • Steve


    21 August 2017 at 09:49 |
    I built a kalimba that incorporated two pickups underneath the tine assembly at opposite sides to enable the stereo effect within a single instrument. Mark, you published the following recording I made of this in the Kalimba Magic newsletter back in 2010:




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