Everything about the Keytar


What is it?

The Keytar is an austrian instrument designed in 1980 by Steve Masakowski (allegedly) using MIDI technology to make a fusion between a keyboard and a guitar.

Here’s how it looks and sounds

Not to be confused with

You may hear about it with other names like “MIDI Controller”, “Remote Keyboard”, “Strap-on Keyboard”. Pronounced /ˈkēˌtär/, from the combination of “keyboard” and “guitar” and also called Keytar in spanish, french and portuguese. A person that plays it it’s called a Keytarist. 

Category

The Keyboard family which means that it has a row of keys, buttons or levers that make the sound when you press them and from the subcategory electrophones meaning it makes sound through electricity.

Materials

Different types of plastic (celluloid, delrin, styrene, PVC)  and steel (spruce, cyprus, cedar, beech and walnut) for it’s electronic functions.

Variants

The types are determined by their grip:

  • Regular grip: bigger range and modulation, but are heavier and longer. 
  • Optional grip: You choose when to use it with and without grip, good for transportation.
  • No grip : limited range and modulation, but smaller.

Another important difference you’ll find is the amount of keys the keyboard has, anything from 37 to 49 keys, of course the more keys the instrument has, the easier it will be to play bigger ranges and the more expensive it will be.

Prices

For the grip keytar, around $ 300 – $ 700 USD, the cheapest we found was a Yamaha SHS-300 37 keys Keytar and the most expensive was a Roland 49-Key Keytar.

In the middle we have something like Alesis Vortex 37 keys for $ 500 USD.

Weights and sizes

The size goes around  2.6 x 35 x 10 In (6.7 x 89 x 25 Cm) and has a weight around 6.6 Lbs (2.99 Kgs), that’s the size of an acoustic guitar and the weight of an electric guitar.

Best brands and models

We checked a lot of brands and rated them based on customer experience. Models and series are confusing?  check this guide. Not picky? you have more options.

The best Keytar for a beginner is a grip 37 keys Keytar since it is the most common variant, but make sure it has training modes that allows you to play songs or exercices, there’s also the no grip versions, that function more like a keyboard or a synthesizer, so if you’re used to any of those, the transition will be easier.

For kids we suggest toy keytars, those go all the way from 13 keys to 32, not only they are cheaper, but the size is right for smaller hands, also for them or even toddlers Toy keyboards are a good option for a gift because they are more common and a lot of them come with extra options like music lessons that lets them play without no knowledge of music theory.

If we look at famous players Jean Michel Jarre had a Roland AX-Synth and Lady Gaga a custom made Keytar so if you’re going professional, you don’t have any excuse with one of these or a optional grip 49 keys with all the modules, with that instrument you will only be limited by your ability.

Accessories

Here’s a list of a lot of them, but for this one a strap for carrying the instrument is essential, since that’s the biggest selling point of the instrument, a case for protection and a set of batteries (rechargeable if you’re going to use it a lot) .

Start playing

We recommend learning to read sheet music to get the basics. We review resources to help you choose how you want to learn. Now that you know how to read them, you need to get some. 
Sheets come in different notations so we recommend checking various versions of the same sheets, searching for “scores” to get all instruments and even the “song name for keyboard/piano/synthesizer/keytar to save on translations.

Don’t forget all the details that combined make a big difference like the way you hold it, efficient warmups, positions and techniques.

Remember,the Keytar is easy to learn and fast too, it’s also similar in purpose to the guitar and keyboard, but also hurdy gurdy and digital piano so you can combine those resources to help you learn.

Luis Gerardo

Musician as a hobby for +6 years, documenting every instrument in simple words for this website.

Recent Posts

Vector traced color vertical keytar with no backgroundA keytar vector image in diagonalVector traced color horizontal keytar with no background