Limba/Mbila - Ilimba Drum

Sometimes also called "Ilimba Drum" this is a traditional ceremonial instrument originating from Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. Referenced from Bantu languages "Limba" as well as "Mbila" are word stems that refer to a one-note, gourd resonated xylophone as an instrument connected to the reverence of ancestral spirits. When several of these instruments are played together they are called "Alimba".

Two wooden vases, resembling Gourd Instruments, sitting on a wooden table.
A group of wooden pots, resembling gourd instruments, sitting on the grass.


When the natural tone of the bar of wood matches with the natural tone of the column of air defined by the size and shape of the resonating body the sound is very dynamic.

Limba/Mbila Photo Gallery

A wooden bowl with a wooden handle on it, resembling a gourd instrument.

Limba with burned design Basswood frame and Key; Black Walnut support arms.

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Painted Limba

Spanish Cedar Key; Black Walnut support arms; painted Basswood frame.

A wooden drum, also known as a lamellaphone, is sitting on a wooden table.

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A black and white vase on a wooden table.

Another Painted Limba example...

The Key (wooden stave) of this Limba is Spanish Cedar. Support Arms are Black Walnut; the rest of the frame is painted Basswood.

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On this Limba the Gourd Resonator is large producing a long lasting sonorous tone. Key is Paduak Wood. See below.....

A gourd lamellaphone is sitting on a wooden table.

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Ilimba Drum Demo

Ilimba Drums are traditional instruments in Congo, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Greg Trimble of Crossroads Musical Instruments was stimulated to make these Ilimba Drums by an inquiry from Ana Maria in Australia. This film demonstrates the sound of the first 4 Ilimba Drums Greg made.The notes of the wooden staves (Keys) are tuned to the natural tone of the column of air inside the Gourd resonator which makes for the dynamic sound.

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