The German-made Hokema Sansulas and Kalimbas have long been loved for their superb sound and quality... but the Hokema instruments were small, with 9 or 11 tines. They played beautiful, dreamy music, but were limited to play simple music.
Now, the B17 is available - 17 top quality tines mounted on a sturdy wood body. It is not the loudest kalimba, but all the notes have an even sound, and the notes sustain for several seconds. And while many 17-Note kalimbas have muffled sounds on the top few tines, the B17 has the clearest sound on the top notes of any kalimba I have played. Like playing golden honey on a sunshiney day.
The 17 notes start on middle C and cover just over 2 octaves in the standard key of C major. This is the same tuning as the ubiquitous 17-Note Kalimbas in C that have been coming out of China since 2017... meaning that all the instructional resources available for the other 17-Note kalimbas are also available for this kalimba.
These kalimbas arrive from Germany with unpainted tines. The three C tines are marked with a single dark etched line about 1 cm from the playing tip, and the two tines with the leading tone B are marked with a double etched line. By default, this kalimba will ship to you unpainted. You can opt to get it with 6 painted tines, just as we paint the other 17-Note kalimbas in C. These painted tines will assist you in reading the tablature in the books and ebooks, but if you don't want to get the tines painted, you can color the relevant tines with Sharpie marker, nail polish, or with decals... all removable options.
If you are more adventurous, you may want to get the B17 Kalimba in an alternative tuning. The Middle Eastern tuning has an excellent instructional manual, and you will most likely be able to accomplish the Middle Eastern tuning on your own (three tines are retuned by just a half step - should be easy?).
How does this kalimba compare to the standard 17-Note Kalimba in C from China? This is about twice as heavy, The bridge is 5 inches wide (instead of the more cramped 4 inches for the common 17/C kalimbas). The body is a bit wider than the standard 17/C, ranging from 6 inches wide at the top to 7 inches wide at the foot... but at 7 inches from top to foot, it is the same length as the standard 17/C kalimbas. The block of wood is 1 inch deep.
Playing-wise? This kalimba will last your entire life. The tine mounting system is solid and these kalimbas will hold their tune longer. The tines will last also, and the solid American cherry wood body is massive. Smooth with superior sound. It does not have access to the wah-wah affect as it is a solid body, but the even frequency response makes this sound more like a celeste or music box.
If the body is too big for your hands, place it on a table and play with thumbs or fingers.
The larger tine spacing (8 mm between adjacent 4 mm tines) makes the B17 easier to play the correct notes... but slightly harder to play the multi-note glissando on unless you have good long thumb nails.
All in all, this is a kalimba that most people would love to own.
The Hokema B17 Kalimba has a wonderfully even response, and is especially clear in the high notes. And anything you can play on the other 17-Note Kalimbas in C? You can also play on this kalimba.