Kalimbula (Ceramic Sansula)
The Kalimbula is a new kalimba from Hands on Drums in Germany consisting of the 9-note hardware from a Sansula, mounted on a wooden face, with a ceramic body, including an optional piezo-electric pickup and an optical dynamic mic, both accessible with a 1/4 inch jack.
The ceramic body has one large sound hole on the bottom and two medium-sized sound holes on the sides. You get a deep wah-wah sound by covering and uncovering the sound holes. More subtle players can cover and uncover the two side holes with two or three of their fingers. Brute force players like me can lift and lower the instrument to uncover and cover the bottom sound hole. Excellent players can probably do both to get the deepest wah of all.
I have never dropped this instrument, but I am assuming they break when dropped. Also, do not store in a hot car or place in an oven.
Pickups: The kalimbula plays perfectly well without a pickup. However, it is also available with a piezo-electric pickup mounted under the bridge and a 1/4 inch jack. The piezo pickup gives a loud and clear electronic representation of the notes played, but without capturing the airy wah-wah effect. Adding the piezo pickup adds $45 to the price. The kalimbula is also available in a third configuration, with both the piezo pickup and a dynamic microphone, and two 1/4 inch jacks. Why do this? The dynamic microphone, mounted inside the ceramic resonant cavity, picks up the wah wah very well. It is limited in how far you can turn it up, as it will eventually feed back. However, you can boost the volume on the piezo to higher levels to get a clear representation of the notes played. Adding both piezo and dynamic mic adds $90 to the cost of the kalimbula.
Tunings: As the hardware is the same as the 9-note Sansula, and of the Sansula tunings are available on the Kalimbula. I felt it would be prudent to create a new tuning, the Bluesy E, to demo this new instrument.
We have completed three hard copy books, one for Standard Am tuning, one for Beautiful E tuning, and one for Heavenly A tuning, and have a good start on the Bluesy E tuning download.