The Electric Kalimba

It was good enough for Jimi

Not many know that Jimi Hendrix was an excellent kalimba player

Did Jimi Hendrix really play kalimba? 

Well, no, Jimi Hendrix didn’t do anything with the kalimba as far as I know.  I’m sure one was put into his hands though, as the kalimba was exploding in popularity at the same time Jimi Hendrix was.

This art work is derived from the famous photograph of Jimi kneeling in front of his guitar as he is poised to light it on fire for the first time in public.  In that photo, Jimi is looking down at his hands, and his hands look like he is holding a thumb piano. 

Even though Jimi didn’t do it, you might consider looking into the kalimbas with electronic pickups.  The pickups are passive devices that connect with a 1/4 inch jack.  You plug a guitar cord into the jack, and then you get to choose where you go from there: A guitar amplifier?  A direct box?  A digital effects processor?  Directly into a PA system?  Or into a recording console?  For recording, I prefer the sound of a microphone to the pickup, but for live applications, the pickup is often superior because of its simplicity, mobility, and feedback resistance.


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