Learning how to play a musical instrument is cool, but learning how to play an instrument you made yourself is way cooler. Using a long piece of wood, some screws, and a ton of Popsicle sticks, YouTuber Mash makes a working kalimba that can play some sick, wood-slapping tunes.

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Drilling Rows of Holes

popsicle stick kalimba

After marking the piece of wood with the appropriate measurements, Mash gets to drilling holes with a 2 mm drill bit. To make sure the Popsicle sticks will stay in place and in tune, he makes two rows of holes for the screws.

Affixing the Popsicle Stick Keys

popsicle stick kalimba

With the holes in their proper positions, he puts the screws into place before squeezing in the Popsicle sticks. Once the sticks are settled in, he securely tightens the metal screws.

Tuning The Keys

popsicle stick kalimba

This is where the musical aspect of the wooden kalimba starts to come in. Using a tuning meter on his smartphone, Mash tunes each Popsicle stick by moving it along the wooden board one by one.

The tension in each stick depends on its overall contact area with the board. By adjusting how the sticks are positioned, different notes are produced when each stick is flicked.

Finalizing The Kalimba

popsicle stick kalimba

It’s a long and tedious process, just as with the tuning of any instrument from scratch. However, the interesting thing here is that Mash has not used any Popsicle kalimba as a point of reference, making this project truly an original masterpiece.

After what seems like hours of moving Popsicles and checking the tuner, Mash finally gets his Popsicle kalimba in tune.

To make the kalimba look more like the piano (because more people seem to know what the piano is), Mash adds some black marker on the flat and sharp notes to mimic piano keys.

Polishing The Design

YouTube video

While his first kalimba seems to be a success in several people’s eyes, Mash wasn’t actually entirely happy with how it ended up sounding. This is the reason why he revisited his Popsicle kalimba after five months and came up with a design that plays way better.

By increasing the size of the sticks and elevating the black sharp and flat keys onto the second piece of wood, you can hear how much more robust the sound this new kalimba has compared to the first. Working with two levels makes this harder to learn as Mash states, but it definitely pays off once you learn how to properly play the instrument.

That being said, we can say that Mash truly makes a ton of quirky projects on his YouTube channel. The blogger tries his best to post a video at least once a month. He hasn’t kept well with this self-imposed schedule but nevertheless, his videos are a treat to watch!


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.