Sansula 150 How to Play the Sansula

Pure magic, the New Age Sansula is a delight to play.  Perhaps the most beautiful sounding kalimba, and with nine notes it is not so complex...the challenge here is to get sonic diversity through alternative tunings.

The Hokema Sansula

The Hokema Sansula

The Sansula is one of the most beautiful sounding kalimbas on the planet. It represents a confluence of superfine German engineered kalimba tines and metal pieces, a wonderful tuning and note layout that make it very easy to play, and the rich deep "wah wah" sound that is easily made with its frame drum. As such, the Sansula has very broad appeal - musical novices and inexperienced kalimba players can have great fun with the Sansula, but it can also hold the interest of experienced players, especially when one considers the alternative tunings, which are not quite as easy to make wonderful music on, but are significantly more capable. In addition, there are great books available for standard Sansula tuning as well as two alternative tunings - books that are worthy of these amazing instruments. The Sansula can be a very rewarding instrument to explore.

Sansula Videos

The best way to understand the magic of the Sansula, and to get a feel for what the different tunings sound like, is to watch some Sansula videos. Click on the gray circles below the accompanying video to see seven other recordings.

  • Standard A minor Tuning


  • Youn Sun Nah, a Korean jazz singer, uses the pocket sansula in standard tuning on My Favorite Things - delicious!


  • Heavenly A Tuning


  • Beautiful E Tuning


  • Bluesy E Tuning


  • Morocco E Tuning


  • C minor Pentatonic tuning


  • C Major Pentatonic Tuning

    Sansula Books and Instructional Downloads

    To complement the very high quality of the Sansula instruments, I felt the need to create very fine instructional materials, and these books are among the best that Kalimba Magic has to offer - beautiful books with beautiful music, music that befits the Sansulas.

    Sansula Models Available from Kalimba Magic

    Pocket Sansula

    Pocket Sansula

    The Pocket Sansula is the same kalimba as the other Sansulas, but it is not mounted on the resonant frame drum. It is available in any of the possible Sansula tunings. If you are not sure you want to take the plunge into the Sansula world, this instrument is a very good way to wade in gradually.

    Listen to the four different types of Sansula.

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    Renaissance Sansula

    Renaissance Sansula

    The Renaissance Sansula has the basic Sansula kalimba mounted on a frame drum with a Remo synthetic drum skin. I don't recommend that you actually slap the skin of the drum - it is not made for this, and its sole purpose is the augment the Sansula's resonance. This Remo membrane is much more resilient than the original paper skin (which we do not carry because it breaks too easily), but you still need to be careful with it. Most people don't hear much difference between the Renaissance Sansula and the Deluxe Sansula. I find the Deluxe Sansula to have a darker sound that I like better.

    Listen to the four different types of Sansula.

    Purchase Kalimba

    Deluxe Sansula

    Deluxe Sansula

    The Deluxe Sansula is similar to the Renaissance Sansula, but its membrane is made of goat skin. This one costs a bit more and is more robust - I've seen one drop from 5 feet and survive just fine. Most people don't hear much difference between the Renaissance Sansula and the Deluxe Sansula. I find the Deluxe Sansula to have a darker sound that I like better.

    Listen to the four different types of Sansula.

    Purchase Kalimba

    Kalimbula

    Kalimbula

    The Kalimbula is a new (2015) instrument made from Sansula hardware, but it has a wood face, a ceramic resonant body, and two types of optional electronic pickup. It can be tuned to any Sansula tuning. A great addition to the Sansula lineup!

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    Sansula Case

    Sansula Case

    These Sansula cases, made by Richard Bowring, are sturdy and protective of the delicate Sansula. You can read about the features and advantages of these cases in this archival newsletter article.

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    Sansula Tunings

    Originally, every Sansula was tuned to what I now call Standard Tuning, which is mystical, enchanting, and beautiful, but ultimately somewhat limiting, and...eventually boring. Yes, I admit it - I became bored with this tuning, so I started inventing other ways to tune the Sansula, and those new tunings keep my interest for months to years at a time. When you purchase a Sansula from Kalimba Magic, we will put it into any of these tunings. You may very well be able to change the tuning yourself. If not, you can always send the instrument to us and we'll perform the retuning (see below).

    New Tips and Blog Posts on the Sansula

    These links are to new blog posts and tips on the Sansula, Kalimbula, and Sansula Books and Downloads. There is more content in the archives, but the content here may be more relevant.
    • Blog post about the 2016 C Major Sansula Instructional Download

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    • A series of 15 tips covering the whys and whats and hows of sansula retunings. We look at the music, emotions, and instructional materials for: standard A minor, Beautiful E, Heavenly A, Morocco E, Bluesy E, C major, and C minor sansula tunings.

      Read more

      Archival Newsletters on the Sansula

      These links to archival newsletter articles on the Sansula and Sansula Books are a bit old, though still excellent; we will upgrade these pages eventually.
      • Interview with Peter Hokema, Inventor of the Sansula (2010)

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      • Ask Mark: Two Most Common Questions about the Sansula (2009)

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      • Tunings of the Sansula, Part 1: Heavenly A Tuning (2010)

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      • Tunings of the Sansula, Part 2: Morocco E Tuning (2010)

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      • Tunings of the Sansula, Part 3: Beautiful E Tuning (2010)

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      • Sound Journaling and the Sansula, by Kathryn Rambo, BC-MT (2011)

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      • Exploring Sansula Tunings, A Non-Musician Engineer Builds a D Minor Tuning (2013)

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      • Great New Wooden Cases for the Sansula, Made by Richard Bowring in the UK (2014)

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      • Announcing new book: Playing the Sansula, A Guide for Musicians and Non-Musicians (2009)

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      • Instructional Download for the Heavenly A Sansula, 20 Songs, Plus the Heavenly A Chords (2010)

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      • New! Heavenly A Sansula Songbook - 21 Songs and Other Educational Resources (2011)

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      • New: The Beautiful E Sansula Music Book, with Expressive and Expansive Music (2012)

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        Sansula Retuning Service

        By the way, if you are reluctant to retune your Sansula, we can retune it for you for $20, domestic return shipping included. Retuning a Sansula is more difficult than retuning a Hugh Tracey. It takes me about 10 minutes to go from standard Sansula tuning to E tuning, but it took one of my clients two hours to do the same job. The good news is that these kalimbas stay in tune better and longer than the Hugh Tracey kalimbas.We can also invent new tunings for you if you have particular requirements for a special song.

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        Questions?

        If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via the email form, or speak directly to Mark Holdaway at 520-488-7641.

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