Are you a drummer who wants to expand your tonal palette? Do you wish to play marimba or other keyboard percussion without spending a fortune on a five-octave marimba or a vibraphone?

The malletKAT is the best MIDI marimba on the market. You can have the flexibility to play the marimba, vibraphone, chimes, or even a synthesizer!

The malletKAT comes standard with MIDI in and out, so you can connect to any MIDI keyboard/sound module to play sounds from it, or connect to a computer with a DAW to play virtual instruments. You do have the option to buy a malletKat with internal sounds, but I recommend using the malletKAT with a computer to play sounds. You will have WAY more options later on.

Traditional MIDI controllers are also becoming more popular in drummers’ setups these days, but it’s the same concept with the malletKAT.

Choosing your MalletKat

You have quite a few options when it comes to purchasing your malletKAT. In the chart below, we will look at the breakdown of the different versions that Alternate Mode offers. You can choose to buy just the MIDI controller without sounds or you can buy one with built-in internal sounds from Kurzweil Music Systems. From left to right, we have the Express, Pro, and Grand. Based on your needs, you can buy a malletKAT with two, three, four, or even five octaves if you purchase an expander.

MalletKAT Grand KS (Kurzweil Sound Engine) Bundle from Alternate Mode
  • This special Alternate Mode Bundle offer includes everything...
  • The build quality is road worthy and the unit is built from...
  • The Headphone Jack allow for low volume practicing in your...
  • 127 programmable setups and features like splitting,...
  • Incredibly expressive and powerful alternative to...

For those with no internal sounds

If you use Ableton Live for playing gigs, you can use the MalletKat to your benefit. Any note on the MalletKat can be programmed to any parameter inside of Ableton Live. Footswitches and pedals also have MIDI capability.

Famous drummer Neil Peart from Rush has used a malletKAT in his touring drum set for many years and is included in many of his drum solos for melodic parts and is also used to trigger various samples during the live show.

The MalletKat Grand comes standard with four octaves, but with the expander, you can have a five-octave marimba for a fraction of the cost! Sometimes you can find a used malletKat for sale, but I highly recommend you buy new as there can be issues with buying things secondhand, no matter what the product is!


The back portion of the malletKAT contains all the I/O you will use. MalletKAT offers two sustain pedal inputs, two-foot control inputs, MIDI in/out (2), and two expander inputs. If you plan to extend the size of your Malletkat, these are the inputs you will use to get more octaves.

The Edit FTSW is used to control every parameter on the Malletkat. You use a sustain pedal in this input to make changes to MIDI information, octave settings, sustain and hold modes, and much more. It can be a little tricky to understand at first, but it’s less complicated than it seems.

If you decide to get a malletKAT and do not want to spend the extra money on the internal sounds, you will need a dedicated computer to play virtual instruments from. For this to work, you will need the malletKAT, a MIDI to USB cable that connects to your computer, a Macbook Pro (or a PC, but Macs seems to be very reliable when it comes to music), and a copy of Ableton Live. Something also worth considering is an audio interface. My favorite one for live use is the MOTU 828 mk3.

The Best ATA Road Case For MalletKAT

Keyboard 1/4 Ply ATA Light Duty Case with Diamond Plate Laminate Fits Malletkat Pro Mallet Kat
  • Important - Please Make Sure You Measure Your Unit Before...
  • Inside Dimensions (Usable Space - Foam to Foam Dimensions)...
  • Laminated Plywood Thickness is Stated in the Title
  • All Bindings and Channels are Machine Split Riveted
  • All Quality Hardware and Interior Foam Used is Depicted...

If you have already purchased a malletKAT and are in need of a great ATA case for it, consider checking out this case from Roadie Products. These cases are made EXACTLY to your specifications, so you know it will fit your malletKAT, no matter how many octaves you may have. The build quality is incredible and will last for many years to come.

Alternate Mode malletKAT Pro
Ease Of Use7.3
Playability9.3
Design8.8
Portability8.1
Integration9.4
Reader Rating1 Vote8.7
Feels Great To Play
Very Portable
Easy Integration With MIDI I/O
No USB Out
Difficult To Edit Settings
8.6
Conclusion - malletKAT Review
The malletKAT is perfect for any drummer or percussionist who wishes to enter the world of MIDI and mallet controllers. You may already play marimba or xylophone, but have you ever wanted to play a synthesizer with your mallets? While not exactly affordable, the malletKAT is a quality product from Alternate Mode.
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