There are many kalimbas on the market that are much cheaper than the Hugh Tracey Kalimba. Is the Hugh Tracey worth it?
Our biggest competitor is the Pakistani-made “Large Rosewood Kalimba”, originally distributed by Mid-East Mfg. (LOL: I started to publicize kalimba music made on Hugh Tracey Kalimbas in a Middle Eastern Tuning, and Google took people there, and the Pakistanis had to change the name of their kalimba to Dobani!)
If you held one in your hands, you would see that it is a nearly exact copy of the Original Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba. I think this is what is meant by the term “knock off”. It might even look better on your coffee table, as they have a very nice gloss finish on their kalimba. However, if you want to use the kalimba as a musical instrument and not an ornament in your living room, there is no comparison. The Pakistani kalimba’s tines hurt my thumbs (and I’ve been playing the Hugh Tracey Kalimba for 30 years, 29.5 of those years without any pain). When you buy the Pakistani kalimba, it is often not tuned. A friend of mine bought one a few years ago, but within 4 months, three of the tines went dead and would not ring, just “thud”. I can usually fix such problems on the Hugh Tracey kalimbas, but no luck on the Pakistani kalimba. One person who ordered a Hugh Tracey Treble from me to replace a Pakistani kalimba told me that it had been unplayable from day one. After her Hugh Tracey kalimba arrived, she wrote “This is what a Kalimba SHOULD be!” I agree. The Hugh Tracey comes precision tuned and aligned, and plays as easy as butter,
Add to that the legacy of the Hugh Tracey Kalimba. Hugh Tracey spent his life studying and promoting African music. The Hugh Tracey Kalimba was the first kalimba to be commercially available outside of Africa in the early 1960s (that’s what it means when they print “The Original Hugh Tracey Kalimba” on the box). The Hugh Tracey Kalimba is made from Kiaat, a native African hardwood (not from Indian rosewood). The Hugh Tracey Kalimba is made by African hands, and the jobs that African Musical Instruments (AMI, the maker of the Hugh Tracey Kalimba) provides are in Africa. The Kalimba is a uniquely African musical instrument. Africans have been playing the kalimba for over a thousand years. Don’t you think it counts for something to honor that tradition by buying an African kalimba?