All About Hokema
Learn all about these beautiful sound wonders crafted out the finest materials in a solar-powered family run factory in Germany, and how WE PLAY WELL TOGETHER has brought them to the American Market to the delight of music makers. We're now convening an interconnected international community around these distinctive instruments that anyone can pick up and play.
What's a Kalimba?
The kalimba (also known as Sansa or Mbira) originally comes from the traditional African music of the sub-Saharan continent and is a form of the lamellophone. It was particularly widespread among the Chewa and Tumbuka of Malawi. Several lamellae are attached to a sound box and are plucked with the fingers or thumbs. The instrument's sound is warm, soft and gentle and has a relaxing effect on his listeners. It can be played alone, but also blends harmoniously with other instruments.
What's a Sansula?
A Sansula is a kalimba that's mounted on a drum head. Why would they do that? This patented innovation of Hokema is an innovative development of the kalimba. Placing the metal-tongued instrument onto a paper, synthetic, or animal-skin membrane, the vibrations of the Sansula are first stored in the wooden block and from there transmitted to the resonating membrane. This sound produced is far more prolonged than with other means of amplification. Due to the special tuning of the Hokema Sansula with adjacent octaves, a wonderful soft sound full of overtones can be easily coaxed from the instrument.
What's an "Elektro" Kalimba?
Did you know that Hokema makes some kalimbas that are acoustic and some that have a built-In pickup so you can use a DI and plug them into an amp? Brilliant! These are so great for live shows as well as your livestream setup when you want to easily get the sound of your kalimba directly into your analogue to digital converter - perfect for Zooming, Streaming or Instagram Live (when used together with a mixer or audio interface). Elektro kalimbas are specially equipped with a piezo pickup and a 6.35mm jack socket, making it possible to pick up sound directly from the instrument without an additional microphone.
Family-run craftsmanship and innovation
Founder and owner Peter Hokema was already passionate about trying out different instruments while he was studying music. There he discovered the traditional African plucked instruments and was so fascinated that he wanted to make it known in Germany. He finally invented his own version with the Sansula in 2001.
It has an oval wooden frame, which is covered with a drum skin and in the middle of which a small kalimba is hung freely swinging. The new model met with enthusiasm right from the start and has been incorporated into a variety of different music-making communities ever since that include: professional musicians, composers, sound artists, yoga practitioners, sound-healing facilitators, meditation teachers, music therapists, early-child educators, brain trauma survivors, wellness advocates and more!
High Quality Processing and Production
Hokema Kalimbas is now run by the second generation with Peter's son Hugo Hokema at the helm of this family-run business. Today, Hokema has 9 employees has become one of the world's leading manufacturer of beautiful and easy-to-play kalimbas in various models worldwide.
All kalimbas and Sansulas are still made by hand with the finest craftsmanship, with Hokema having full control over processing. They only use high-quality materials to manufacture their instruments and this makes a huge difference in the resulting sound. The resonating bodies of the kalimbas are made of fine American cherry wood and are completely free of tropical woods. In order to know exactly where the raw materials comes from, all parts are produced in Walsrode with material exclusively brought in by German suppliers.
The required electricity for their factory comes resource-saving from their own photovoltaic system, which is placed on the roof of their production facility. The vegetable oil used to polish the wood surfaces is also chemical-free and absolutely environmentally friendly. Hokema also offers workshops and tutorials online for how to play, tune and retune all of their kalimbas. These offerings go hand-in-hand with We Play Well Together's own community online and offline gatherings, classes and live experiences.
We Play Well Together with Hokema Kalimbas
We Play Well Together is proud to be the exclusive North American distributor for Hokema Kalimbas! That means all Hokema products in the USA come through us - either sold directly to customers through our website or through the stores and online retailers of our many partners. We Play Well Together is a woman-owned American Company founded by Gabriele Schwibach - who's enjoyed a long-time working relationship with the Hokema family in her native Germany. Gabriele has created a special niche for unique instruments that have become especially popular in recent years. We're glad to have you as part of our extended family and hope you enjoyed learning about Hokema.