Gasper Nali’s Babatoni is played sliding a beer bottle along the string and struck with a stick


Gasper Nali

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Gasper Nali is a musician who not only creates his own music, but also his own instrument, giving a new definition to the term ’one-man band’.

The one-string Babatoni bass guitar is considered the largest of its kind in the world. The body is made of a piece of an oil barrel, with a neck comprising a eucalyptus fingerboard wrapped in cow skins. To change the pitches, Nali slides a beer bottle against the string with his left hand, and percussively strikes the string with a stick.

In addition, Nali provides a mgolo, or large bass drum, also made from part of an oil barrel. Using a kick pedal, he beats the drum to accompany himself. 

’You cannot buy a Babatoni, that’s why I make it all myself,’ Nali says.

Gasper Nali Sitting

Gasper Nali and his Babatoni

Nali is from rural northern Malawi, a particularly poor African region He originally performed with his two brothers, busking in nearby villages. After the brothers tragically passed away, Nali continued the band alone.

Nali gained the attention of music project manager Mattias Stålnacke after one of his videos garnered extensive attention on social media, reaching 18 million views. Nali will embark on a 21-show tour of the UK in September and October, supported by reggae poet Michael Mountain. Find out more here:

Check out the Nali and the Babatoni in action here:

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