Thread: Mbira tines
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:52 AM
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The Bassist The Bassist is offline
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Location: New Hampshire
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Default Re: Mbira tines

Thanks for the replies!

Originally Posted by Garvin View Post
Cool. Never seen one of those before. I have a 25 key Mbira that I had to completely take apart and rebuild in order to tune correctly. There are lots of good schematics for tuning online. In terms of finding the material, go to a metal shop, or find a welder, or metalworker and ask them where they get their supplies. There are probably more shops than you realize really close to you. You can buy large pieces of spring steel, but cutting, shaping and finishing it will be another huge part of the project. You may already have the tools though.

I can definitely see why the instrument in the clip was so expensive. It was not only tuned perfectly, but there were some really intricate engineering done to the keys themselves. Definitely a pro job. Good luck. Post more if you decide to undertake this. Mbira is a really beautiful instrument.


I re-read your original question. High carbon spring steel is not the ONLY metal you can use. You could always use cheaper metal i.e. aluminum. Or find scrap steel in a junk yard. Might be cheaper to buy a couple of car hoods to cut up and experiment with first.
I dunno, I still feel like that's a great deal of money for what is essentially hollow wood and metal strips (however beautiful it sounds or finely tuned it is... I have other things I'd like to dish that kind of money out on now)
That aside, thanks for the advice. I'll start looking around for some metals to maybe use. Am I right in assuming that the metals won't be in flattened strips when buying? It doesn't really matter though, I have tools that can be used to shape it. I think I may start with aluminum though since it seems that there's a roll of aluminum (could be zinc... it isn't labled) wire in my basement. I assumed aluminum wouldn't have enough spring to it to work right, but it's worth a try.

Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
I have a kalimba which is a gourd with 8 metal tines on it. Somewhat the same sound but obviously not as big.
I think they are the same thing. I'm going to mostly base this on these instructions, which explain right of the bat that they are the same. But, going through that, it shows many different materials for the tines, followed by a video with all different ones (sounds aweful in my opinion haha), so regardless of the material, it's still the same instrument. Based on something I read somewhere (don't remember where) not all materials will give a good note range, so I need to find something that can get the full 4 octaves I'm looking for. Do you by any chance know what the tines on your are made out of?
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