The C-Alto, with an electronic pickup (PU) installed.
The C-Alto is the exact same instrument as the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba, but tuned to C. The range is still the same as the standard Alto, two octaves from G3 to G5. In other words, G, or the 5th of C, is in the bass.
The only difference between this and the regular old Alto Kalimbas are:
- The two F# tines are tuned down to F natural (this is something you can almost surely do yourself).
- I put a little black dot on the two C tines with Sharpee marker – why? To remind me that those are the root notes, and to keep my brain from getting confused and thinking that I have a G Alto in my hands. Being Sharpee marker, you can remove it easily with an alcohol wipe.
- With this retuning, none of the Alto books will work with this instrument (unless you tune the two F’s back to F#, somewhat defeating the purpose of getting the C-Alto) – BUT I have just now (2014) put together the 66-Song Download for the C-Alto, which I will be giving away for free when you purchase the C-Alto.
Listen to this sound clip:
C-Alto Kalimba + PU
Some will say “Well, I want the C to be in the root – can you do that?” You can tune every note on the Alto up a 4th so the range is C4-C6, but the high notes sound thin and not so good. If you want C in the bass note, you should get a Bb Treble kalimba tuned up a whole step to C, which sounds fine, and which is a retuning we cna do for you.
By now, a lot of people will be like “Woah! Back Up! WHY should I buy one of these when it is so similar to the standard Alto kalimba?” If you own a G Alto already, you can retune to a C Alto very quickly – it takes me under a minute, if you have never done it before it could take you ten minutes or more, but you’ll get faster as you practice tuning. So clearly, a lot of people can get the benefit of a C-Alto on their own. (If so, you may want to purchase the 66-song C-Alto download separately.)
Some people want or need to play in C. My time with the C-Alto began when I started playing music with Baba Marimba, a marimba band based in C. Ukes like to play in C. If you play with recorders you may want C. You may need to play in C to accompany song that requires C for the vocalist’s range. Whatever the reasons, if you need to play in C and either don’t have a kalimba yet, or you need to switch from your G kalimba to your C kalimba in like seconds rather than minutes, you may be a good candidate for the C-Alto Kalimba.
You can find information about the C-Alto on the“How to Play” the Alto Kalimba Page.