05 September 2018

Introducing The B11 Sansula

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

11 notes (in any of the exotic B11 tunings), mounted on a sansula resonating body

People have literally been dreaming about this instrument for over 10 years, and now it is here.

The Sansula, with its 9 charmingly exotic, crystal-clear notes, was an instant hit, but people wanted more - more notes and more musical possibilities. I have heard dozens of people express their wish for a "bigger sansula" and today that instrument is here.

Hokema (its creator) calls it the Melody Sansula, but I call it the B11 Sansula. I think my name tells more about this instrument.

 

The B11 Sansula is built on a sansula body - that amazing and lovely wood-framed echo chamber that makes the great wah-wah sounds -  but notes on the B11 go lower than the B9's, so, to achieve proper resonance, the B11's sansula body is about 10% larger than the standard Sansula's.

(Physics in action: Lower notes require larger bodies to resonate and hence be acoustically amplified to the point that we can hear them. A whole octave lower would require a resonant body larger by a factor of 2. That would be huge! But one whole step lower only needs about a 12% increase in size.)

You have a variety of possiblities for the tuning of a B11 Sansula -  starting with the standard G Major, (the Melody tuning). Or choose from the others I've introduced in recent months: The Wizard tuning, The Four Winds tuning (four distinct uses of one tuning!), and coming soon, Dajari-F. Instructional downloads are available for all of these B11 tunings except for Dajari-F, which should be out in about a month.

I should note: there are several types of sansula body, and the B11 Sansula is of the "standard sansula" style, meaning the thin membrane covering the resonant frame is made of something like rice paper.

If you drop a B11, that membrane will break. I do not warranty the membrane on the standard sansula, and because of its fragility, I stopped selling standard sansulas many moons ago... but I will sell the B11 sansula with the standard paper membrane, because it's the only style of B11 Sansula available from Hokema. I could not let this one pass me by because the B11 has some really cool possibilities. So here I am, selling a deliciously beautiful instrument with crazy rich tunings, and the possibility of disaster within a fumbling hand's reach.

So, I can highly recommend the B11 Sansula, and I can highly recommend that you be careful.

That said, I have never broken a sansula skin. But I have seen a few dozen that other people have broken. I know that if you take care of the instrument, if you don't drop it, and it you don't give it to Baby to play, it will probably last you many many years.

I actually like the sound of the standard sansula with paper membrane a bit more than the sound of the deluxe sansula (goatskin) or the sansula renaissance (with a REMO synthetic drum head membrane). I can hear the difference though most people cannot.

So it is nice to have these gems in my life again, even if they do require extra care and attention.

About the Author

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway has been playing kalimba for over 30 years.  He invented his kalimba tablature in 2004, and has been writing books and instructional materials for kalimba ever since.  His business, Kalimba Magic, is based on the simple proposition that the kalimba is a real musical instrument capable of greatness.  Mark's kalimba books are a down payment on this proposition.

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