How much is a good price to pay for mbira? Is £100 (or circa US $170) too much for the mbira on the tweet above?
Every week people send messages asking where they can buy some mbira. They are immediately directed to a number of places where they can reliably purchase an instrument and many have come back to say that they find the instruments expensive. It would be great to hear your views on how much you think is a good price for mbira. Probably some views on how you decide how much a mbira is worth.
Other mbiras one could buy
The tweet above is just an exmpale of a mbira one could buy but let’s just have a quick look at what else is on offer on the mbira market…
The instrument below from Gonamombe Mbira Centre (popularly know as The Mbira Centre), will probably range from circa US$250. (The Gonamombe mbiras are made by different makers to a certain style and quality specification. The idea being that you should expect a particular quality of mbira from The Mbira Centre irrespective of the specific maker. As the director of the centre once said to me, (I’ll para-phrase) “When you buy a car from Toyota you never ask who made your car, you expect it to be of Toyota quality irrespective of the workers who built your car”. )
Or one could buy a mbira (example below) from Mbira.org at an average price of US$250. (Mbira.org sells instruments from a variety of makers. So you can choose a particular maker if you wish. As these are independent individual makers, the feel, quality and style can differ considerably)
It also possible to buy an instrument such at the ones below from German maker Sebastian Pott ranging from around €300 (or circa US$400) (Sebastian’s workmanship produces beautiful looking and great sounding instruments. He is the maker of choice for renowned mbira player Chartwell Dutiro. I have asked Sebastian why he charges the amount he charges for his instruments and he explained that the time it takes him to get the instrument to its quality finish and sourcing the best materials means that he can’t afford to sell them for less. )
Recently someone got in touch from south Africa and I directed them to a South African based player I know and they came back saying that the instruments were too expensive. They had been told that the instruments will be around ZAR 1000 (or circa US$95). There is also a lot of stuff on Amazon and Ebay of different qualities and at different prices. some of the stuff on line is pure rubbish, not menat for playing but just display but some people who would like to save some pennies end up buying that stuff under the belief its a better price.
I have happily paid for instruments that vary in prices from $100 right up to €300! I’ve based my judgement on how much I pay on mainly the following
- sound quality
- the finish
What is a good price to pay for mbira? Let us know in the comments box below or by email. Cheers