Friday 20 April 2012

Kalimba 50 Ableton Rack

I have multi-sampled this little rustic Kalimba (also known as Mbira, Thumb Piano or Lamellophone) to create an Ableton Live Sampler/Simpler rack. The rack has controls to allow mixing between a tuned version of the instrument (good for playing with other tuned instruments), a "round robin" version which gives a more "realistic" sound as each trigger of a note plays one of a number of sampled plucks (this is also a tuned version) and a "random" version, which sounds more like playing the actual untuned instrument. There is a control for "spread" which thickens the sound and controls for attack and release time.

As you can see from the photo each tine of the Kalimba has a small piece of tin wrapped around it which vibrates as the tine vibrates giving a distinctive character to the sound. As the accompanying audio demo shows these vibrating bits of tin sound very interesting down a few octaves.

Anyone who owns the Sampler instrument in Ableton can expand Simpler to get access to the individual samples and re-tune or muck around with the "chance" of various tines being struck in the "round robin" channel.

Chuck a guitar amp plugin on the end of it and you will have a pretty good CongoTronics sound happening.

Download Kalimba 50 Rack


  1. Hello. I found this thanks to a link on Ableton's blog. I really like the Kalimba 50 sounds. I've found the install a little difficult, though. I took the route, Ableton File Browser > Manage Project > Export. This returned success, but I still cannot find the instrument anywhere in the Device Browser. A search for "kalimba" returns two Rack Presets, but not your Kalimba 50. Have you any advice for me?

  2. Hi,

    Came across your site last night and downloaded this. Was just playing around with it, not intending to start anything, and then ended up with a 7 minute ambient piece after stretching out the loop I created with it! I'm terrible at finishing stuff but liked the sound so much I just posted it up to Soundcloud on the same evening. Thanks for the instrument AND the inspiration!


  3. followed the link form the forum, great stuff! I always fancied buying a Mbira, now I don't have to.

    Thank you!

  4. Lovely piece nice sampled. Cheers.

  5. Thank you for this! Amazing Instrument

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