This functional prototype of a kalimba with plexi tines was concepted with the help of Reinhard, who himself was a brilliant carpenter/wood worker of Theater Bremen (retired in 2016). His normal work mainly consisted of putting stage designs together upon specifications. But he was always ready to try building a new instrument, whenever we talked. In his family there was a tradition of building kalimbas. Using his great knowledge of all kinds of building materials he built this big one for me (and a smaller one, see video below). Not every kind of plexi works. You need to find a flexible kind, as hard ones will break or sound numb.
The Plexilimba is a pretty huge and bassy thing with tines lay out like a piano keyboard.
(approx. 50 × 33 × 8 cms.)
Later on i found, that a piano type of tine order isn’t very musical. This setup doesn’t allow to use the traditional thumb / finger logics for playing. Beyond that, one good idea of this is the big body and the fact, that tines have not been precut to fit certain keys before, which leads to a rear side of tines featuring a kind of random tuning order, which musically is always good to have.
I gave this prototype to friends in Biesenthal in summer 2016, though i’ll occasionally borrow it back for a night, for the big sound.
On another note Reinhard built a much smaller version for me before, which is more easy to carry and can – as the big sister – be amplified well using cheap contact mics attached to a corner with a screw clamp.