Other Instruments are listed in alphabetical order below.
Atentenben - Bamboo flute from Ghana, available in C or Bb tuning, approx. 15" l., $20.
Atentenben-type Bamboo Flute produced in U.S., stained, woodburned bamboo, available in C or Bb tuning, approx. 15" l., $30.
Balafon - The Balafon consists of a number of wood bars (aka keys or notes), each suspended at two points (called the bar's "nodes") from a wood frame that also supports a set of gourd-type "resonators" which help to amplify and sustain the sound of the bars which are played with rubber-covered mallets. We feature quality balafons (aka "balas") produced in Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso. The balafon is used alongside djembes and djun-djuns in dance and other traditional African music ensembles, and is also often found in various other styles as well, lending a very distinctive melodic sound. Some balas now in stock are shown below; CI and BF Balas are currently not in stock.
|Balafons, Guinea, Mali, etc. (Bobo/Susu Balas)|
|Guinea, l., Mali, c. & r. (not to scale)||Origin
(# of Notes)
|Jumbo Mali (22)||1,150|
|Note re shipping: (all sizes) fragile.|
Bolon - The Bolon is a type of (bass/hunter's) gourd lute with bent ngoni-wood neck and (twisted) natural gut or rawhide strings, made in Guinea. It is used to accompany other instruments such as ngoni or kora, and/or to provide a small mellow (yet full) acoustic bass sound. Like that of any bass, the tonal character of a bolon is unique to each instrument; no two are identical. We normally carry 3- and 4-string Guinea bolons with traditional or mechanical tuning. Related to the Keriyen (serrated iron scraper-bell) and obviously to the Ngoni and Kora string instruments, it's a soulful, ultralight west African bass that can produce a lot of warm bass sound-power per pound. Cow skin top with hair, colors may vary (note: not hypo-allergenic). For traditionally-tuned models, we recommend using string Rosin to maintain fine tuning. These instruments have very-limited availability; please contact us for current stock.
|3-String (Friction)||4-String (Gear Tuner)||Type (Tuning)||Price|
|3-String (Gear Tuner)||425|
|4-String (Gear Tuner)||475|
|Note re shipping: (all sizes) fragile.|
Claves - These are among the most-ancient of musical instruments, simply being a pair of short heavy hardwood sticks struck together using techniques and simple rhythms that have been evolved by traditions and players in Africa and especially Cuba, where it is practically revered as the percussive 'metronone' of tropical Latin music called son (which rhymes with "tone") and its more modern descendents rumba, mambo, salsa, etc. Our claves (in Spanish "clave" means key) are made in Cuba of what is regarded as one of the densest hardwoods: Lignum Vitae. This wood gives the claves a powerful resonance and also happens to be an attractive dark brown-marbled-with-blond wood.
We offer two styles: African (hollowed out) and Cuban (solid), both made in Cuba. The African style offers more latitude for sonic expression (in traditional idioms), and for either type, the resting hand playing position is critical. When you hold the claves just right and strike down onto the resting clave, they should punctuate a sharply clear specific steady rhythm (so other drummers and dancers can lock into your groove). Solid Cuban Claves (not pictured) are approx. 1.25" diameter x 7" long. African-style (hollow) - or Cuban-style (solid) - your choice, $29 per pair.
African-style Claves shown with included Striker Clave (and optional straight-stick striker)
(Click image for Wikipedia article on Claves)
Goje - One-string fiddle (simple violin) from northern Ghana. Snake skin is stretched over a gourd bowl, a string made of horsehairs is strung over a small wood bridge. Played with a traditional short horsehair bow. These instruments are in very-limited availability; please contact us for current stock. We also occasionally carry the one-string Mali variant, which is called an Njarka, available in similar sizes and prices.
|Small (7" × 24")||150|
|Large (8" × 26")||180|
Katá - (aka Guagua in Cuba or Ti Bwa in Guadeloupe and Martinique) is a length of large diameter (approx. 3" - 5" dia.) bamboo that has a long opening similar to a slit or log drum (but with a proportionately wider slot to allow the bamboo to "speak"), and is played with small wood sticks roughly the size of Chinese chopsticks or light timbal sticks (the Guadeloupian term Ti Bwa is from the French Creole for "petits bois" meaning small woods). Each of these instruments is a handcrafted work of percussive art; no two sound alike. By the way, none are pretty in appearance (unless plain bamboo's your thing). Due to the physics of bamboo, the Katá may tend to crack at its ends, but properly applied glue can fix that. Some players prefer Katás that are for lack of a simpler term "distressed" (meaning well-worn from playing and transporting/setup/teardown), since that tends to give them a "darker" more-complex timbre.
While its timbre may seem unimpressive to the uninitiated, it is a serious percussion instrument that has a long history and is integral to some styles of African, Afro-Caribbean tropical and Indonesian and other Pacific Islander folkloric dance music. While the Katá is technically a non-pitched percussion idiophone similar to a woodblock (except in Indonesia, where the art of gamelan includes a sophisticated melodic double-bamboo instrument derived from the Katá called the Angklung), its sound is quite different from other woodblocks. For increasingly hollow or bright sounds, we recommend very dry bamboo, which takes months to cure.
While playing the instrument with a stick, the large slot(s) may be variably covered and uncovered with the player's non-stick hand for a 'variable-pitch' effect. Note: The size and weight of the sticks substantially affect its timbre.
Includes your choice of light (folkloric) or medium (jazz/rock) straight sticks; please specify your preference when ordering. Please call for availability and price (about $50 - 80 each including 2 sticks); we may also be able to supply a simple plywood floor stand for this instrument for about $40 - 50. These instruments are not always in stock but can usually be special ordered—please allow 6-8 weeks (generally speaking the longer they dry/cure, the better they sound). Another instrument that has Motherland Music check the weather before servicing (high humidity impacts the timbre of a Katá/Ti Bwa and animal skins on drums). Fortunately for this need, Los Angeles county is basically in a desert environment!
Katá shown on Plywood Floor Stand (not included)
(Click image for Wikipedia article on Chouval Bwa & Ti Bwa)
Mbira - Professionally made by various Zimbabwean artists. Mukwa wood soundboard. Strong well-formed keys of good-quality metal. These are not Hugh Tracey Kalimbas, they are made in Zimbabwe!
The Shona people of Zimbabwe and surrounding regions are expert makers and players of the mbira, an original African portable melodic instrument, which was and remains a standard instrument for griots.
More recently (since the 1960s), the European musicologist Hugh Tracey researched and wrote extensively on the mbira and created an instrument that he dubbed the Kalimba. Although we have occasionally taken kalimbas in trade or on consignment, we generally recommend mbiras made in Zimbabwe by local master artists/makers. They are made for maximum music tone and for optimal playability by experts who know what makes a playable instrument and are worth every penny; however if you crave a similar plucked sound for less, an alternative is the less-costly Sanza. If you want to maximize the volume of this fully acoustic instrument, we can supply a suitable Deze (gourd resonator) custom-fitted to your mbira for around $100 (please contact us for details; e.g., we will usually need your mbira in our workshop for the deze fitting/mounting). In any case, when played live, mbiras are best mic'd or fitted with a contact transducer (contact mic or piezo-electric pickup).
For your mbira tuning edification, a link to a web page by N. Scott Robinson offering several traditional tunings is available here. Another
source for tuning mbiras is Wikipedia's mbira page here.
|8-key small (not shown)||20|
|8-key large (shown l. in image )||40|
|15-key Nyunganyunga (shown r.)||100|
|23-key Dzavadzimu (not shown)||165|
|*The small 8-key and large 23-key Mbira
Dzavadzimu are currently out of stock.
Oja - Eastern Nigerian three-hole wooden whistle. This flute-like whistle can be played with other instruments or on its own. Played by a master, it can also evoke word sounds. Click here for more information on the OJA flute.
|*Note: Hand-made whistles.
All lengths are approximate.
Sanza - Thumb piano made with metal keys and a gourd resonator (larger size decorated with wood-burned African mask motif), from Burkina Faso. Surprisingly full tone for such a small instrument.
|Resonator Type (Size*)||Price|
|Gourd - Mask-Burned (9")||50|
|*Note: These are hand-made instruments.
All sizes are approximate.
Tambourine - A widely used instrument in many cultures, the Tambourine has been used for centuries as an accompaniment for singing in African worship services. Various sizes and shapes are made with 3/8" plywood or cane. Click here to find out more about the roots of the tambourine.
|*Size of outer diameter (approximate). These are hand-made tambourines; sizes vary.|
Water Drum - These drums are made from large Nigerian gourds. Selected for their smooth, round shape, they are cut in half, scraped clean and carefully dried. The large drum is filled with water, and the smaller drum is placed cut-side down in the water. Played with rubber mallets or by hand, the drums produce a resonate bass tone. We recommed using a plastic tub for the water container, being flat on the bottom and plastic theyt are more stable and easier to dry and store, and for nesting ensure that the bottom gourd diameter is at least 3-4" larger than the top gourd.
A typical set includes two pairs, 8" & 12", 10" & 14" (a total of four) bowls, or you can choose whatever sizes you want.
*Size of outer diameter (approximate).
These are natural gourd pieces; sizes vary.
Wood Block - The African Wood Block, an ancient instrument, is made from a piece of hardwood hollowed out with a deep slot on one edge. When played on the thick edge, it produces a sharp clave-like sound which can be heard over the drum ensemble. Played on the thin edge, its sound can be hollow and full. This type of wood blocks is made in the Ibo region of Nigeria, where it is called an Okpokolo. Wood Block, Red is made from handsome red Padauk wood and its timbre is from medium to sharp. Wood Block, Brown is made of Oma wood and its timbre is in the lower, softer range (Oma is also used in the 3-in-1 Batá set). Playing stick is included. Extra red and brown playing sticks are available—they can also serve as nice fairly-short general-use straight sticks for other African percussion, including most Oghene bells and smaller peg-tuned drums.
|African Wood Blocks|
|Item and Size*||Price|
|Red Wood 4" × 8" (approx.)||18|
|Brown Wood 4" × 8" (approx.)||16|
|Brown stick 9" (approx.)||2|
|Red stick 9" (approx.)||3|
| Red Wood Block and stick.
*These are hand-made blocks; sizes vary.
Xylophone - Dagara xylophone from northwestern Ghana. Frame and keys made of hardwood; each key has a sized gourd resonator. Ghana Rubber-Tire Head Xylo Mallets (not included) are available separately.
|Xylophones, Ghana (Dagara Balas)|
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