A bass instrument made of a large cedar wood box with metal keys attached to one side, which when plucked, create a deep, earthy sound from the resonator hole cut above the keys. It can be played either suspended by a strap over the player's chest or with the player sitting on it, playing it like a xylophone. It first came into widespread use in Cuba as a replacement for the tuned, pot-bellied clay bottles which had traditionally provided the bass part in the son of rural Oriente. As the son became more urbanized, the double bass eventually would replace the marímbula.

It derives from a smaller, thumb piano called an mbira, found all over sub-Saharan Africa.