Alternate Mode malletKAT: An Excellent MIDI Percussion Controller For Drummers

Alternate Mode Malletkat Review

UPDATE: I am selling the very malletKAT you see in this post. You can view my eBay listing here. It’s been sold! Sorry if you didn’t get it in time.

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!

What is a malletKat?

It’s a pitched percussion MIDI controller. The malletKat functions like an electronic xylophone. Using your sticks or mallets, you can play the pads that are laid out like a keyboard.

These types of instruments are very similar to that of electronic drum pads, but are different because they feature the chromatic scale rather than just a grid of pads.

What do you get with the malletKat?

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.

MalletKat Front

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.

As of September of 2018, the Kurzweil Sound Card will no longer be made with the malletKat. Alternate Mode is reportedly working with IK Multimedia for the next gen of controllers.

MIDI controllers are becoming more popular in drummers’ setups these days, and it’s the same concept when using a malletKAT in your setup.

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.

The malletKat ships standard in the following options: Express, Pro, and Grand.

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.

Neil Peart Drums

The malletKat “Grand”

For those looking for a five-octave marimba experience, the Grand might be the option worth looking at. While I only own the Express, I can imagine playing the Grand would be an awesome experience.

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.