Hugh Tracey C-Alto Kalimba


The C-Alto is the exact same as the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba, but tuned to C. The low note is still G, which is actually quite useful for a whole class of songs that goes down to the 5th of the scale (think: “Amazing Grace”, which starts on the 5th).

Only 2 left in stock

Choose the color of the painted tines, or take "Soonest Available" or "Unpainted."
Product total
Options total
Grand total


in Business


Exchange for a Different Kalimba


Satisfaction Guarantee


A very natural feeling kalimba, this one likes to play gospel and folk and to back up vocal music. Get this one if you need to play in the key of C.

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

Some will say “Well, I want the C to be in the bass – 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.


Additional information

Weight 1.4 lbs
Dimensions 6.5 × 9 × 2.2 in



Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway has been playing kalimba for over 30 years. He invented his kalimba tablature in 2004, and has been writing books and instructional materials for kalimba ever since. His business, Kalimba Magic, is based on the simple proposition that the kalimba is a real musical instrument capable of greatness. See answered questions.