26 June 2019
A New High-End Electric Nyunga Nyunga
The Dave Bellinger 15-Note Electric Karimba in F
Dave Bellinger has long been known for his solid, meticulously crafted and innovative eKalimba designs (an eKalimba is a kalimba with an electric pickup). This one combines a hot pickup (that is, with a very strong output signal), "graphical buzzalizers," and generally smooth design and construction - with the 15 traditional notes of the mbira nyunga nyunga, also known as the karimba in F.
All of this makes the Bellinger F15 Nyunga a great instrument for looping (a looper is a device that instantaneously records what you're doing and plays it back in a loop, so you can layer multiple parts or instruments at the same time). The lower-row notes are the same notes as on the Student Karimba - meaning complete phrases of African songs can be played on its lower-row notes. So, imagine playing a lower-row song into the looper, and coming back and adding upper-row notes to the second pass of the music.
I do that, and much more, in the video at the end of this article.
Sound Clips of the Bellinger F-15 Nyunga
How do the acoustic and electric sounds of the F-15 Bellinger Nyunga compare?
The acoustic sound has much more treble, but also seems to be a bit brittle. The sound through the pickup is a little darker with a bit less of the buzz.
This track includes 3 short clips: acoustic, electric (pickup), and combined acoustic and pickup
Acoustic sound of the F-15 Bellinger Nyunga.
Sound of the F-15 Bellinger Nyunga's Pickup
The tuning of the Bellinger F-15 Nyunga
Design Features of the Bellinger F-15 Nyunga
Superbly designed Tine Attachment Mechanism
Check this out! That "L" bracket is firmly attached to the bridge, and it transmits the vibrations directly from the bridge to the electronic pickup.
By the way, after playing my personal Bellinger Nyunga for a few months, I noticed an unpleasant buzzing sound when I played acoustically - it was because the bolt that attaches the "L" bracket to the black disc of the pickup had come a bit loose. I tightened it about 1/4 of a turn with a metric hex wrench, and the acoustic buzzing went away.
Jack on the Back
Gorgeous Cherry Wood Body
See the Bellinger F-15 Nyunga In Action
I have been enjoying looping many songs from the Nyunga repertoire on my personal Bellinger F-15 Nyunga.
In the video below, I create a loop with a single repitition of the basic part of the traditional song Shumba Panzira. This music stays on the lower row notes. Next, I play and record a second nyunga part that interlocks with the first layer I recorded. With the two interlocking parts playing in the looper, I solo on the upper notes of the F-15 Nyunga. This sort of African karimba music gave rise to an African guitar style ubiquitous in modern African pop music.