Hokema has long made top notch kalimbas. They became really famous when they made their Sansulas with two rows of narrow, very smooth tines. The two rows really improved the playability of the instrument, but with only 9 notes? The music it produced was rather limited in scope. But this here B15 kalimba? I haven’t been this excited to play a new kalimba in a long time! I am overjoyed.
Now Hokema has released the B15, a 15-Note instrument covering exactly two octaves of the key of G major. This is the same tuning as the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba. But as the notes lead up the scale, they double back to the center of the kalimba and continue alternating outward on the second tier of tines.
By the way, the two tiers of tines thing is a traditional African trick. In African tunings, the adjacent tines tend to be in octaves. In this setup, octaves are across the kalimba. Lower right tines will harmonize with upper left tines.
Note the upper row tines are narrow (like Sansula or B17 tines), while the lower row tines are wide (like the B7 tines).
Why am I so excited about playing this kalimba? It just feels good. It is essentially as capable as the Alto Kalimba. (A great many books are available for Alto kalimba, but you need to translate the upper notes onto the upper row tines in your head.) But the larger tines on the lower row and the narrower tines on the upper row is a great choice, giving the lower row notes more power to better equal the higher notes on the narrow tines.
Also, the two tier system puts the tines farther apart, making it easier to play the correct tine.
Most of all: the lower tines are perfect for chords and accompaniment notes, while the upper row tines are used predominantly for melodies. A great division of labor!
This is a smart kalimba in many ways. Have you come to a plateau on your kalimba journey? Are you looking for the magical kalimba feeling again? This is a good place to look for kalimba magic!