WORKSHOP & RECYCLING
Roots Production believes that a real musical instrument is like a living being and has a soul. Our creations are made with love and each instrument has a character of it’s own. When ready, they leave our workshop, go out into the world, find a home and hopefully live rich and fulfilling lives, interacting with other beings, expressing themselves and bringing joy.
Over they years we have learnt a lot about about what makes an instrument sing out. The first thing is the materials we use and then how these parts are put together to create an internal tension and that tension has to be balanced in harmony with itself. This takes listening, multiple adjustments, time and care for the instrument to express its essence.
The Sounding Board
The sounding board is a part of the Kalimba that gives a tone to the instrument. A hard wood will give you a long, resounding note, while a warmer tone comes from a more tender wood. The thickness of the board is also an important factor. Thin wood produces a lot of attack but less resonance, whereas a thicker piece creates longer notes.
All kinds of woods are used to make the board, depending on the kind of instrument being made and the sound we intended to achieve.
We often shape and sculpt the piece for both sound and design. Frequently, we use recuperated wood, in accordance with the recycling philosophy that Roots Production is founded on.
The Blades or Tines are the notes of the Thumb Piano- The source of the sound produced by the instrument when strummed. At the beginning we used all kinds of things raging from bicycle spokes to windscreen wipers but today we use only the best High Carbon Spring Steel for sustained performance.
The dimensions of these notes a very important factor as both thickness and width change the whole sound and feel to an instrument. One type instrument requires a very different kind of note than another and one player may prefer stronger or finer notes on the same instrument. We use a wide variety of different dimensions of steel on our Kalimbas to bring out the maximum potential of each model but also to satisfy personal needs and requests of our customers.
The Roots Production blades are unique because they are handmade individually for each instrument through a long process of hammering, filing down, more hammering and some more filing and finally polishing. To achieve this one needs a very hard anvil, some good hammers, buckets of elbow grease, ear protection and really cool neighbours.
It is very important that the notes are well finished since any Kalimba player knows how playing a thumb piano with rough notes will give one sore thumbs in no time. Our notes are not rough stripes of metal. No! They are polished to a perfect aesthetic feel and to facilitate a smooth effortless play. We at Roots call them Angel's tears.
Our instruments are finished in a manner to enhance simplicity of our designs and low tech natural beauty of the instrument. Our satin varnishes are applied in three thin layers with a cotton cloth so that the sound of the instrument is in no way effected by thick layers of varnish. Roots productions instruments remain primitive yet are polished: the highest quality that low tech has to offer.
The tuning of the Kalimba is the last of the many stages in this Labour of love that is a creation of a living musical instrument. Good tuning is of utmost importance and this takes a lot of listening, multiple adjustments and care. All our instruments are perfectly tuned and we will always do our utmost ( in the realm of the possible) to for fill our customers request in terms of tuning. Once again customized Kalimbas are the two key words here at Roots Production
There infinite scales in which a thumb piano can be tuned
Philosophy on Recycling
Many of our Kalimbas are made with recycled Sardine cans, Cigar boxes and Wine cases, Oil tanks among other things. Even the buzzers on our notes, are made out of recycled soft drink cans and if you look closely you may well recognize the brands that we have integrated into our creations. Every object has a story and the fact that it is reincarnated as a musical instrument is a really wonderful and a fun thing. People do not usually realize the acoustic potential of everyday objects that surround them however many popular instruments of the world were in fact used for different purposes before evolving into musical instruments.