Best Thumb Pianos Reviewed & Rated for Quality

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
GECKO
Test Winner: GECKO
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What’s in a name? In fact, thumb pianos have many. If you’re from the Caribbean, you’ll call this delightful little musical instrument a kalimba, and if you’re in Africa where it originated, you’ll call it a mbira. And just as the names of this family of instruments vary, so do their configurations.

Each thumb piano is comprised of a wooden board with metal tines attached to it. The number of tines may vary from instrument to instrument and the sizes may vary as well. You play the kalimba by using your thumbs to pluck the tines. Smaller tines play higher notes and larger tines play lower notes.

This is a great introductory instrument for little ones to play around with but it is also a great addition to any backyard band. So pick up one of the thumb pianos on our list and start plucking out your own melodies today.

Standout Picks

GECKO
The GECKO Kalimba is one of the best thumb pianos for sale on our list because it comes loaded with features that make this a great companion for a young new learner and for the experienced player alike. With 17 keys and measuring just 9.8 inches tall, 8.2 inches long, and 3.8 inches deep, this little musical instrument can be placed in almost any bag and take along for the musical ride.
Amazon Link
$39.99
TRSCIND
The TRSCIND Kalimba is another great option that graces the top of our list. With 17 keys and a delightful design, this is a portable instrument that will win hearts. Plus, with its compact size (just 8.2 inches tall, 6.7 inches long, and 2.7 inches thick) you can pack this instrument with you anywhere you go.
Amazon Link
Donner
The Donner Kalimba is another of the products that we feature that has 17 keys. It is made from sturdy wood and delivers lovely sound that any can enjoy. This is a great option for kiddos who are looking to learn a musical instrument and for music lovers who are looking for a new instrument to master.
Amazon Link
$23.99
JDR
The JDR 17 Keys kalimba is another beautiful mahogany product to make our list. By using quality materials and precise craftsmanship, these kalimbas guarantee a crisp, warm sound even if you don’t have any experience playing before.
Amazon Link
Luvay
The Luvay Kalimba is a great budget option if you’re looking for a travel kalimba that comes fully loaded with extras at about half of the price.
Amazon Link
Kithouse
The Kithouse Kalimba is another great choice for beginners and kids. With a lovely mandala etched onto the front, this would make a perfect gift for your yogi friend or anyone who finds these symbols soothing.
Amazon Link
$25.99
UNOKKI
The UNOKKI Kalimba is one of the smaller items on our list so it can be a real tag-along buddy when you want to take your tunes on the road. With a beautiful look and feel, you’ll love getting the hang of playing this little guy.
Amazon Link
$29.99
Helesin
The Helesin 17 key Thumb Piano is one that comes with a lot of design features to make the kalimba more durable and eliminates the need for frequent upkeep.
Amazon Link
$28.98
QStyle
The QStyle Kalimba has a different look than other options on our list but will still deliver the sound quality that you’re after at a great price.
Amazon Link
$59.99
Andoer
We round out our list with the Andoer thumb piano. This one only has 10 keys and is a great option for the littler ones or those just getting started.
Amazon Link

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Materials

When considering the products that would make this list, we looked for those products that used the highest quality materials.

Most of the products on this Ten Best List are made from mahogany. Mahogany is a great wood because it is solid and durable. It offers up tons of resonance and delivers a warm and inviting sound that is soothing to the ears and to the soul. These instruments can hold up to some standard dents and bruises and still sound wonderful.

We do feature a product made from acacia wood as well which has similar benefits to mahogany while being a little less expensive.

The tines on the thumb pianos on our list are made from many different types of metals. Some of the tines are made from carbon steel while others are made from ore steel or steel manganese. All of these metals are durable and flexible which makes them long-lasting and easy to play.

Sound Quality

When thinking about sound quality, we are looking at the materials that each product is made out of as well as how they are constructed.

Those instruments made from higher quality mahogany are going to have a richer sound, as will those that use higher quality metals for their tines.

Each instrument has a hole in the front and 1-2 holes in the back of the instrument that allow you to control the sounds that come from the keys. When you are more experienced, you can access more control over the sounds and tones.

Accessories

Here we highlight products that come with everything you need to begin your thumb piano practice. We love products that come with durable bags because as these are smaller instruments, they are basically begging to be taken with you wherever you go. Those products with EVA durable bags rank highly on our list.
We also love products that come with instruction guides and music and songbooks. This helps users to orient themselves around the instrument while introducing basic songs to get started. It’s for this reason that we love products that come with training stickers to help users get used to what key is what and to learn specific helpful patterns for playing.
Plus, we love bonuses like cleaning clothes to help you maintain your instrument’s longevity, as well as tuning hammers, and silicone finger protectors to assist for new players that have not had the time to build up callouses.

Ease of Use

When considering ease of use, we were thinking about many of the things we already mentioned. Products that come with user’s manuals and songbooks score highly on our list. We also rank highly those instruments that come with stickers to help guide beginners.

One of our favorite features for ease of use are tines that are angled down at the end. This allows the user to pluck and play with greater ease and less stress on the fingers. When tines are straight, they can irritate the fingers after extended use (thus some new users will experience pain and will benefit from using silicone finger protectors). Having keys that are angled down prevent this from happening.

Value

Most of the products on this list are extremely affordable--especially for a musical instrument. If you have a friend or child that is interested in learning a new instrument but you don’t have tons of money to shell out on a guitar or piano, this could be a great option and introduction into music for them.

Plus, many of these instruments come in complete kits with everything you need to get started so you won’t have to worry about feeling lost and confused the first time you pick one up.

10 Best Thumb Pianos

1. GECKO

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$39.99
GECKO
Amazon Link

The GECKO Kalimba is one of the best thumb pianos for sale on our list because it comes loaded with features that make this a great companion for a young new learner and for the experienced player alike. With 17 keys and measuring just 9.8 inches tall, 8.2 inches long, and 3.8 inches deep, this little musical instrument can be placed in almost any bag and take along for the musical ride.

Everything Included in Kit
The GECKO Kalimba includes everything that you’ll need to start your kalimba journey. Not only will you enjoy the beautiful mahogany thumb piano, but you’ll also get a tuning hammer. This will help you to ensure that your instrument is always playing in the right key. See our FAQ section for assistance in tuning your kalimba.

This kit also comes with a pretty incredible case that serves to protect your instrument from damage. The case is made of EVA and is dust-proof, waterproof, and shock-proof. This case can comfortably hold your kalimba, tuning hammer, and even practice sheets. And if that weren’t enough, you’ll also get a little bag to toss this into for even more added protection.

But that’s not all! GECKO wants to help you become experienced in as little time as possible. You’ll get a hard copy fundamentals booklet and also access to tons of their tutorial videos on youtube. Plus, the kit comes with music note stickers to help you remember the note of each tine, and it also comes with reusable color-coded stickers that can help you to learn patterns and specific songs.

Handmade
The GECKO Kalimba is handcrafted with precision and care. This particular product is made from fine mahogany with two sounding holes in the back that are used as voice controllers. The 17 keys are made from mineral ore steel metal bars that provide crisp sound and allow for easier play.

Your instrument is likely to get moisture on it from your hands which can damage and rust your kalimba over time. That’s why you’ll want to use the included polishing rags after every time you play to keep it fresh and free from contaminants that will wear away at it.

Cost and Value
The GECKO Kalimba rings up at the very top of our price range and we love its value because it includes more in its kit than any other product on our list and because it is a gorgeous handmade instrument that will take you from novice to jammer in no time.

Plus, this instrument comes with a 1-year warranty and a 45-day grace period for unconditional returns.

Amazon Link
$39.99

2. TRSCIND

Where to buy
Amazon Link
TRSCIND
Amazon Link

The TRSCIND Kalimba is another great option that graces the top of our list. With 17 keys and a delightful design, this is a portable instrument that will win hearts. Plus, with its compact size (just 8.2 inches tall, 6.7 inches long, and 2.7 inches thick) you can pack this instrument with you anywhere you go.

Precisely Tuned to C
The TRSCIND Kalimba will come to your door having been expertly tuned by professionals to the standard key of C. You will be able to enjoy soft, clear tones that are peaceful and soothing to hear. This product also comes with a tuning hammer so that you can tune your thumb piano when necessary.

With this kit, you’ll get a linen bag to store your kalimba in. You’ll also enjoy an instruction manual that will help guide you, especially if you’re a beginner. And for more help in this arena, the kit comes with key stickers for each of the 17 keys. It also comes with red and green stickers that are adjustable which can help you to learn chords, scales, and specific songs.

As always, there are tons of Youtube resources that you can access to help you become more confident in your playing.

Made from Mahogany
The TRSCIND Kalimba is made from beautiful mahogany and features an etched carving of an elephant and rhinoceros on the front. The 17 keys are made from ore steel which make them easier to play and imbue them with a more pure sound.

This product is special because it is both aesthetically beautiful and provides lovely sound as well. You can enjoy playing this alone in nature or break it out to play along with the ukulele.

Cost and Value
The TRSCIND Kalimba rings up in the middle of our price range and we love its value because it is aesthetically beautiful and made from quality materials. Plus, with training bonuses, this is an ideal buy for beginners.

Amazon Link

3. Donner

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$23.99
Donner
Amazon Link

The Donner Kalimba is another of the products that we feature that has 17 keys. It is made from sturdy wood and delivers lovely sound that any can enjoy. This is a great option for kiddos who are looking to learn a musical instrument and for music lovers who are looking for a new instrument to master.

Keys Made from Carbon Steel
The resonance box of the Donner Kalimba is made from pure, solid mahogany with a gorgeous sun etched design on the front. Its quality works to create a uniquely rich sound and it also helps to protect the instrument from damage. The 17 keys of this musical instrument are made from carbon steel. The contrast makes the keys easy to see and play, and they also produce a lovely sound tone.

Your thumb piano will come to you tuned to the key of C (a universal key), but should you need to tune your kalimba at any time (the tines can be moved during transportation or under heavy play), your kit comes with a tuning hammer. We explain the tuning process below in our Frequently Asked Questions section.

Easy-to-Carry Bag
With this kit, you’ll get your kalimba (expertly tuned), your tuning hammer, a user’s manual, and a handy carry bag to bring all of your kit along with you anywhere the music goes. The manual helps to give you tips on how to play your new thumb piano as well as how to care for it.

Cost and Value
The Donner Kalimba rings up in the middle of our price range and we love its value because it offers up many of the same high-quality features and materials at about half of the price as other premium options on our list.

Amazon Link
$23.99

4. JDR

Where to buy
Amazon Link
JDR
Amazon Link

The JDR 17 Keys kalimba is another beautiful mahogany product to make our list. By using quality materials and precise craftsmanship, these kalimbas guarantee a crisp, warm sound even if you don’t have any experience playing before.

Steel Manganese Keys
The JDR 17 Keys kalimba is made from solid mahogany that is 100% handcrafted. Unlike others on the market that are made from plywood, the mahogany body creates a rich, warm sound that is excellent at accompanying other instruments like an acoustic guitar or playing on its own.

The keys of the JDR kalimba are made from steel manganese. What makes these keys special is their ability to be tough while still remaining flexible. Their flexibility allows for an easy feel while playing and creates a crisper sound with more responsiveness than others on the market.

Great Travel Companion
The JDR 17 Keys kalimba is a great travel companion. It is compact in size measuring in at 9.6 inches tall, 7.4 inches wide, and 3.6 inches deep.

We love the carrying case that this product comes with. It is made from an EVA material that is both waterproof and impact proof. This makes it a great option if you are planning on traveling with your thumb piano because it will protect your instrument from damage.

You will also receive tons of other handy items in your kalimba kit. You will get an additional travel bag with a drawstring, and cleaning cloth for wiping your instrument down after you use it, a set of letter and number stickers for helping you to learn the keys more quickly, a set of colored key stickers to help you learn specific songs and chords, and a tuning hammer.

You’ll also get a music book that will help you to begin to learn songs and help you begin to figure your way out around the thumb piano. With easy instructions to follow, you’ll be plucking out your own tunes in no time.

Cost and Value
The JDR 17 Keys kalimba rings up in the middle of our price range and we love its value because it is handcrafted from high-quality materials, because it comes with tons of support items in the set, and because it backed by a lifetime warranty.

Amazon Link

5. Luvay

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Luvay
Amazon Link

The Luvay Kalimba is a great budget option if you’re looking for a travel kalimba that comes fully loaded with extras at about half of the price.

Strap Bag for Easy Carrying
The Luvay Kalimba comes with all of the additional items of more expensive kits while only costing half the price. You’ll enjoy a carry bag with an adjustable strap that makes taking your thumb piano along with you a breeze. While it won’t offer up the same protection as one of the EVA cases on our list, it will still keep your instrument fairly safe.

You’ll also get different colored stickers to assist as you try to learn new songs and techniques, plus you’ll get letter and number stickers to help you learn which keys are which faster. On top of that, you’ll get a tuning hammer and a cleaning cloth to help you take care of your kalimba.

A Music book comes with this product. It will help you to learn new techniques and teach you how to start playing if you are totally new to the kalimba.

Floral Design Etched in Mahogany
The Luvay Kalimba is made from mahogany, though its quality won’t hold up quite as well as other higher quality mahogany kalimbas on our list. There are lovely sun and floral designs etched into the mahogany to give this kalimba a feminine feel.

The keys on this kalimba are made from carbon steel which gives this product a peaceful and smooth sound. It will sound as beautiful as it looks.

Cost and Value
The Luvay Kalimba rings up at the bottom of our price range and we love its value because it comes with all of the components that more expensive sets come with while being half the cost.

Amazon Link

6. Kithouse

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$25.99
Kithouse
Amazon Link

The Kithouse Kalimba is another great choice for beginners and kids. With a lovely mandala etched onto the front, this would make a perfect gift for your yogi friend or anyone who finds these symbols soothing.

Durable EVA Case
The Kithouse Kalimba is another excellent travel companion. It measures 9.4 inches tall, 7.8 inches long, and 4.7 inches deep. It’s the perfect compact size to toss into almost any bag so that you can take your thumb piano with you everywhere you go.

And when you do take this little guy on the road, you won’t have to worry about damage to your instrument. This product comes with an EVA case that will protect your instrument from major bangs and drops. It will also provide a waterproof barrier between your instrument and the world so you feel confident about the safety of your instrument.

You’ll also get a cleaning rag to help maintain your instrument, 2 sets of stickers (1 for helping to learn different songs and chord progressions and 1 with key numbers and letters), and a tuning hammer. You’ll get a music book to help you begin your kalimba journey as well.

Mandala Design
The Kithouse Kalimba is made of mahogany, like all of the other thumb pianos on our list. This particular instrument from Kithouse has a darker stain than some others on our list. This gives it a deeper color which makes it as lovely to look at as it sounds.

On the front, you’ll find a beautiful flower mandala etched into the mahogany. These symbols are calming and meditative and are a perfect companion for this sweet instrument.
The keys on this product are made from carbon steel so they are durable and have a crisp sound.

Cost and Value
The Kithouse Kalimba rings up in the middle of our price range and we love its value because it is a fully loaded kit that doesn’t come at a premium cost. Plus, it comes with a 90-day warranty so you can be absolutely sure about it before you commit to your purchase.

Amazon Link
$25.99

7. UNOKKI

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$29.99
UNOKKI
Amazon Link

The UNOKKI Kalimba is one of the smaller items on our list so it can be a real tag-along buddy when you want to take your tunes on the road. With a beautiful look and feel, you’ll love getting the hang of playing this little guy.

Smaller than Other Products
The UNOKKI Kalimba is a true travel companion as it is smaller than most of the other products on our list. It measures just 7.4 inches tall, 5.2 inches long, and 1.3 inches deep. You will easily be able to throw this in the cloth drawstring bag that this instrument comes with and take it along with you wherever your adventures take you.

Made of solid mahogany, the UNOKKI Kalimba serves to offer up a rich, peaceful tone that is different than the sound of a standard or electric piano. This product features a leafy design on the front that makes it a great option for any user.

Comes with Silicone Finger Protectors
The keys are made from steel are both flexible and durable. The keys actually have their key name and number embossed on them which is far more long-lasting and effective than the stickers that are provided with other products on the market.

With this purchase, you will get silicone thumb protectors that you can place over your thumbs to protect them from blisters if you play super frequently. However, it is good to build up callouses on your fingers over time so that they develop their own natural protection. This will help with your tone as well.

In addition to all of that, you’ll get a cleaning rag and tuning hammer to help to keep your thumb piano in tip top shape. Plus, you’ll get reusable stickers to help with learning certain songs and an instruction manual to get your practice started right away.

Cost and Value
The UNOKKI Kalimba rings up in the middle of our price range and we love its value because it comes with a few features that other products on our list don’t have (embossed key names and silicone finger protectors).

Amazon Link
$29.99

8. Helesin

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$28.98
Helesin
Amazon Link

The Helesin 17 key Thumb Piano is one that comes with a lot of design features to make the kalimba more durable and eliminates the need for frequent upkeep.

Made from Acacia Wood
The Helesin 17 key Thumb Piano is made using acacia wood for its resonance box, unlike the other products on our list that are made from mahogany. This is still a solid wood that will create a nice and warm sound as you pluck at the keys.

With this kit you’ll get a tuning hammer, a cleaning cloth to use after each playing session, stickers with key names and numbers, as well as stickers to help you learn patterns, and a cloth bag to store your instrument in. Plus, this kit comes with an instruction manual and a songbook so you can get started learning your new instrument and new music right away.

Sturdy Locking Key System
The Helesin 17 key Thumb Piano comes with 17 keys made from carbon steel. They are secured by a sturdy locking key system that goes beyond the function of many of the other key attachments for products on the market.

This locking key system is secured at 7 points to remain sturdy. Plus, the key system also features key blocks that prevent keys from making contact with each other and disrupting their sound.

Cost and Value
The Helesin 17 key Thumb Piano rings up at the bottom of our price range and we like its value because it still comes with many of the parts of the more inclusive kits on our list at a lesser price. Plus, it features a durable construction for a long-lasting instrument.

Amazon Link
$28.98

9. QStyle

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$59.99
QStyle
Amazon Link

The QStyle Kalimba has a different look than other options on our list but will still deliver the sound quality that you’re after at a great price.

Blue Wood
The QStyle Kalimba is made from mahogany but this instrument has been dyed blue. While it still maintains some of its natural look, the blue gives it a pop of color to liven up any musical gathering.

You’ll get a few other essential items in your kit apart from your thumb piano. You’ll also enjoy a tuning hammer, a cleaning cloth, silicone thumb protectors, and a drawstring bag to carry all of your gear in.

Curved Tines for Easier Play
The QStyle Kalimba features steel tines that have been designed for your comfort. Not only do they have the key letters and numbers embossed directly on them, but they have a curved down shape to make playing easier. This shape helps to protect your fingers and allows you to play for longer periods without experiencing discomfort.

Cost and Value
The QStyle Kalimba rings up at the very bottom of our price range and we like its value because it is super comfortable to play and provides a pop of color to the music scene.

Amazon Link
$59.99

10. Andoer

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Andoer
Amazon Link

We round out our list with the Andoer thumb piano. This one only has 10 keys and is a great option for the littler ones or those just getting started.

Made from Birch and Steel
This kalimba is made from smooth birch that is polished with a beautiful red hue. The 10 keys are made from steel so they are durable and flexible, just like the other products with 17 keys. Because this kalimba only has 10 keys, it is a great introductory item for those kiddos who are just learning how to play--even the youngest of the young.

The Most Portable Option
This kalimba is the most portable option on our list. It is less than 7 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. This is a great buy for taking on car trips and for bringing with you to restaurants as a way to entertain your kids.

Cost and Value
This option from Andoer rings up at the very bottom of our price range and is a great buy because it is durable and good for kids as it is so compact.

Amazon Link

Sources

  1. Wikipedia Contributing Writers, Mbira, Encyclopedia Article
  2. Kalimba Magic Contributing Writers, How to Tune the Kalimba, Article
  3. Mbira Junction Contributing Writers, Mbira History, Article