Kalimba of the Month
The Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba

The first Hugh Tracey Kalimba I ever saw was the Alto Kalimba. That was at 141 Western Ave. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, back in 1986. Hearing that beautiful instrument changed my life! I immediately ran out and got a Hugh Tracey Kalimba, but I didn't realize until later that I had bought a different model—the Treble, actually. It didn't capture my attention like that first one I heard, and after a few years I went back and bought the Alto kalimba. THAT is when my kalimba career began.—Mark

Comparison of Treble to Alto Tuning
Alto and Treble kalimba tunings

Last month, the Kalimba of the Month was the Treble and we compared the Treble to the Alto. This month the Alto is our focus. The Alto spans two octaves, exactly, of the G major scale, running from G3 (G below middle C) to G5 (G above high C). It has a similar range to the mandolin, though the mandolin goes another octave higher. Having exactly two octaves starting on the root note means several things:

The larger tines on the Alto make it easier to play— you don't have to be quite as accurate (as when playing the smaller-tined Treble) to hit the right tine. Also, the larger sound box (i.e., larger than the Treble Kalimba) fits better in the hands of large people like me (OK, I'm normal large at 6 ft).

In short: with two octaves this kalimba gives you quite a bit in potential musical complexity, but it is also easy to play for people who are new to the kalimba.

The Alto Kalimba in action

Because the Alto was my favorite kalimba for so long, I recommend it to many people, and it ends up being my best-selling kalimba. As such, it is also the kalimba with the most extensive list of educational materials. In all, there are eight books and book-length downloads, which feature material for the Alto Kalimba, and there are dozens of Tips of the Day. To learn more about what is available for the Alto kalimba, you should visit the How to Play the Alto Kalimba page on our website.

Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba
Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba

Now is a great time to purchase an Alto Kalimba from the Kalimba Magic Shop because we are offering a Father's Day Special for the entire month of June 2009. The package includes a Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba, plus the Alto Fundamentals Book and Mark Holdaway's CD Two Thumbs Up—in all, a $140 value, for only $118!

Of course, you don't have to be a father to take advantage of this special. You could give this kalimba to your father. If you like, I can include a note to your father with the package. OR you could just get the kalimba as a gift for yourself!



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