Hugh Tracey Student Karimba


This karimba is tuned to the core notes of the karimba and mbira. Documented in 1950 as the Kankobella in a scholarly paper, this kalimba had the first song transcribed into western music notation! A modern Hugh Tracey version of the ancient instrument.

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This instrument has the same tuning thought to be the original mbira tuning from over 1000 years ago. Great for kids or beginners who want an African connection.

Andrew Tracey, Hugh Tracey’s son, recognized that every ancient African lamellaphone (ie, kalimba) had the same eight notes placed prominently in the center of the instrument, and the ancient traditional tunes seemed to be based on these eight notes. Andrew dubbed these eight notes the “kalimba core”, and further hypothesized that these eight notes formed the “original African mbira” from 1300 years ago when the people of the Zambezi River Valley started to use metal.

This instrument usually ships in G tuning, but we can tune it to C if you ask.

Listen to these sound clips:

Student Karimba in C

Student Karimba in High G

This student karimba is usually in the key of G so it goes with the Student Karimba book. The ninth note is a redundant middle G on the far right side, which makes this instrument match the lower row of tines on the 17-Note Hugh Tracey Karimba.

Learn more about the Student Karimba.

Additional information

Weight 0.9 lbs
Dimensions 5.5 × 8 × 1.4 in



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. See answered questions.