Introducing the Hang-9 Kalimba

Exploring the wide collection of handpan tunings on a simple kalimba

The Hang-9 kalimba on a Halo handpan

The handpan drums such as the Hang and the Halo are very magical instruments, in large part because of the really cool tunings they come in.   However, they have certain drawbacks – the multi-thousand dollar price tag, the waiting lists, and their inability to change tunings come to mind.

The Hang-9 is a brand new kalimba offered only by Kalimba Magic that encapsulates the tunings and note layouts of the handpan drums in an inexpensive kalimba that can be retuned to any of the tunings. The Hang-9 was given this name because it has 9 notes which are based on the tunings of the Hang drum and other handpan drums. Continue on to hear what the Hang-9 sounds like.

The Hang-9 Kalimba started out life as a Catania 8-Note, but we have modified it by adding an extra tine, painting four of the tines, and retuning it to one of the handpan tunings – tunings popular on the Hang Drum, the Halo, or other handpans.

The handpan and Hang-9 notes map
into each other perfectly. If you were to cut
the handpan along the dotted line and
spread it out, its note layout would look just like
the kalimba’s. 

We have nine notes instead of eight because there are several handpan scales that want nine notes.  The diagram to the left indicates how the Hang-9 tines map into the handpan notes.  Often the Hang-9 kalimba notes will be an octave higher than the handpan notes.  

The close correspondence between Hang-9 and handpan notes has several interesting implications:

  • You can play the same melodies and harmonies on a $50 Hang-9 as you can on a $2000 handpan.
  • Once your handpan is in a tuning, it is never going to be in any other tuning, but the Hang-9 can change tunings fairly easily. You can change among several tunings on the Hang-9 to find out which tuning you really want for an eventual handpan purchase.
  • If you cannot afford a handpan purchase, you can get some of the feel for the music it makes by playing an inexpensive Hang-9 in one or more of the handpan tunings.
  • If you have a handpan, you can get a Hang-9 kalimba tuned to the same scale and have a friend play one while you play the other. You can even look at each other’s instrument and because of the visual mapping of the notes, you can actually see what notes they are playing and you can play along.
  • And finally, you can actually use the kalimba tablature to read off music for the handpan.


Halo Drum and Kalimba Duet! Many thanks to Serena Gabriel who played the Golden Gate Halo drum while I played the Hang-9 kalimba in Golden Gate tuning.

The Golden Gate is a bright-sounding Halo tuning.

This is my own tuning, based on the mixolydian mode and the Grateful Dead song “Fire on the Mountain”.

Thomas Bothe makes kalimbas with two levels of tines; the lower level of tines plays one chord or space, and the upper level plays another chord or space. This Hang-9 tuning reproduces just the lower level of tines, making this kalimba a very peaceful place. You can’t do a lot with this tuning, but then again, you don’t have to. Enjoy the magic!

Ake Bono, an ancient Japanese scale, is always a great choice.

Silverado is a very uplifting tuning – wonderful to play.

This tuning feels like a flower opening up – magical and positive!

Between the dark and the light, a mystical-sounding mixture of minor and major.


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