Instructional Resources for the Celtic D Karimba

Get your first lesson on the Celtic D as well as three songs – hear them and get free tablature for all four


The Celtic D Karimba is designed to play Celtic music in the key of D major, or B minor, or E dorian mode. Not all Celtic music is in D, but it is a common key for Celtic music.

With two rows of interspersed tines, the spacing between adjacent tines on the same row is significantly increased. This makes fast melody playing easier (because the tines are spread out more), but it makes glissandos and chords a bit more difficult (also because the tines are spread out more).

We gather all of the instructional resources for the Celtic D Karimba in this one spot.


Many of this kalimba’s tines are similarly pitched to a penny whistle’s notes. If you are playing together with a whistle player, try to play more on the lower tines to give the whistle player sonic space. If you are playing with a guitar player who is laying down the chords, then soar high into the upper notes as well.

In the tablature for the Celtic D Karimba, the upper-row tines are represented by shaded columns in the tablature. You can see this when you look at the pattern made by the tine tips in the tablature footer.

CelticD Tuning

Only 15 notes are needed to cover two octaves of the D major scale… but as there are 17 tines on the Celtic D karimba, this permits us an extra low tine, C#, and an extra high tine, E. These notes make a kind of cushion below and above the two-octave range. Melodies will sometimes have little turnarounds that go down to the low C# or up to the high E.

To better understand the layout of this tuning, start on the low “1” note, the white D in the middle, your second longest tine. Following to higher notes in the scale, you alternate right, left, right left… and when you hit the far right tine C#, and the far left D, you keep going up the scale, but jump to the adjacent upper-row note, E, then F#, and so on through all of the upper-row notes. Come down again if you like.

The low note, C#, is a half step above middle C on the piano.

To get the tablature and the entire lesson – all lessons in this post are free – click on “Learn the Song” inside each of the following sections.


First Lesson on Celtic D Karimba

Low notes on the right side fit with high notes on the left side, and vice versa. You can play a chord low down on one side, and play a melody dominated by notes on the upper, opposite side of the instrument. It is very different from piano or guitar – and it’s actually a fortunate quirk in the way the instrument is set up. It makes it really easy to accompany yourself.Learn the Song


Road to Lisdoonvarna

“Road to Lisdoonvarna” is a charming Irish song played in the E dorian mode, and it works great on the Celtic D Karimba.

Learn the Song


Si Bheag Si Mhor

This delightful but wistful Irish waltz is attributed to the blind harpist Turlough O’Carolan. And it is right at home on the Celtic D Karimba. There is a crispness to this instrument that helps turn this music in a pleasing way.

Learn the Song


Miss Rowan Davies

This is a sweet Scottish song that I learned 30 years ago on guitar, and 20 years ago on the Alto kalimba. I just realized yesterday that I can also play it on the Celtic D Karimba! It took me long enough to get here, and yet it is a fine step on my kalimba path. I hope you like it too.

Note that this link is not to another article, but a link directly to a 5-page PDF download – look in your web browser’s download cache.

Learn the Song

The PLAY widget below illustrates the Celtic D Karimba’s note layout and range.

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