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A keytar is a keyboard or synthesizer worn around the neck and shoulders, similar to a guitar. The word "keytar" is a portmanteau of "keyboard" and "guitar". Keytars allow players a greater range of movement, compared to conventional keyboards, which are placed on stands.

Originally the creation of guitarist Steve Masakowski, the keytar was commercially introduced in 1978 as the Moog Liberation. The first Liberation owner (#1001) was Spyro Gyra keyboardist Tom Schuman (with numbers 1002, 1003, and 1004 owned by the band Devo).

Perhaps one of the earliest printed use of the term "Keytar" was circa 1980 in an interview of Jeffrey Abbott (owner of Moog Liberation #1005) by Tom Lounges of Illianabeat magazine (now Midwest BEAT Magazine)

The keytar was made popular in the 1980s by hair bands, as well as synthpop and New Wave groups. Changing trends in music diminished the keytar's popularity shortly thereafter. The keytar has enjoyed new visibility due in part to software innovations from companies like Musiclab (RealGuitar), UltimateSoundBank (PlugSound) and the Williams (Keytar V-1).

It is important to distinguish a genuine keytar from a toy, as some children's toys are manufactured in the same shape. A key difference is that toys generally have one- or two-note polyphony, whereas professional models allow the performer to play many notes at once (excepting older instruments such as the aforementioned Moog or the Roland SH-101).

Features controlled from the instrument's "neck" include pitch bends, vibrato, portamento, and sustain.

There are few models of keytars currently produced. Yamaha was once well-known as a keytar manufacturer. Roland (AX-7) & Williams (V-1) are currently the only companies manufacturing keytars. To 'keytar' also refers to the ability to emulate the playing style and sound of an electric or acoustic guitar via a synthesizer, sampler or computer.

Use of the word Keytar in a sentence:

"Hey, do you have any keytars for a power metal band?"

[edit] Alternate names for keytar

  • keyboard guitar
  • Synth-Axe
  • remote keyboard
  • portable keyboard
  • belly-synth
  • synth guitar (not to be confused with MIDI Guitar)
  • master keyboard (as most were used as MIDI controllers)
  • electroponce
  • Schmidtkeytar
  • Kaytar

[edit] See also

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