Amazing Tunings of the Magical Star-13 Kalimba

Are you looking for a different kind of kalimba experience? The Star-13 Kalimba is quite different from your standard 17-Note kalimba:


This kalimba has a crystal clear, beautiful ringing tone and long sustain. The special wah-wah effect, made by raising the kalimba up and down on a flat surface, gives you a great level of tonal expressiveness. The note layout, with 6 upper row notes and 7 lower row notes, provides interesting harmonic opportunities. It also inspires combining melody and self accompaniment. The range is soothing, going down to a G, lower than your typical kalimba in C.

Even though the low note on the Star-13 Kalimba is G, it is in the key of C. This low G is very useful in that many melodies dip down to that note (think “Amazing Grace”, which starts on the G, or 5th of the scale). The low G is also very helpful for harmonies.

The Star-13 Kalimba can play in four different harmonic modes without any retuning: C Major, G Mixolydian, D Dorian, and A natural minor.

If you are willing to retune a few of your tines to slightly different notes, there are some interesting options for you. The simplest retuning is to push the F tine in to become F#, which changes the instrument’s key to G. Now the low note, G, is the root or key note. This will make a new set of music available to the Star-13 kalimba.


Low Note is G, But the Star-13 is in C. Huh?

@kalimbamagic #star13kalimba #kalimbatips #kalimbatutorial #kalimbatunings ♬ original sound – kalimbamagic

Another simple tuning is the A Harmonic Minor scale, made by pushing the two G tines upward to reach G#. This tuning can also play Middle Eastern music, and has also been called the Freygish tuning. It plays exotic ethnic music from around the world, and is a charming tuning for your Star-13.

Harmonic Minor has Great Ethnic Flair!

@kalimbamagic Star-13 Kalimba in four modes plus A harmonic minor #star13kalimba #kalimbatutorial #kalimbatunings ♬ original sound – kalimbamagic

Retuning a few tines by a half step or so is actually fairly simple. Most people will be able to make these small retunings.

Here is a Lotus-like tuning – I call it “Lotus Lite”. It seemingly randomizes the notes of the G minor heptatonic scale on the kalimba. Why arrange the tines this way? It plays different music. The music a kalimba produces is a combination of your thumb motions and the tuning. To get this Lotus-like tuning, I take the kalimba apart and rearrange the tines, matching the long tines to the low notes and the short tines to the high notes. I am guessing like 25% of kalimba players would be up for such an operation. Or, Kalimba Magic can do this retuning for you.

Lotus Lite – A Totally Different Instrument

@kalimbamagic Star-13 Kalimba in Lotus Lite Tuning #star13kalimba #lotuskalimba #kalimbajamming #kalimbamusic ♬ original sound – kalimbamagic

Are you feeling the excitement for all the possibilities? I am!

Get a Star-13 Kalimba Today!

How to Tune the Kalimba

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