Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login


The true origins of The Keytar
Posts  1 - 5  of  5
Keytar discussion
As the true originator or The Keytar back in the summer of 1977, I am able to guarantee that Anthony Masakowski (who seems to have taken all the credit so far) had absolutely nothing to do with either its invention or its name, in spite of the many claims found across the worldwide web today.

I have never met Mr Maskowski at any time in my life - either before or since I invented it - and I know that he will never be able to explain the exact thought processes which brought him to think of it in the first place.

On the other hand, I most certainly can because it was born out of two events:
1) the fact that I was working with my Brother, Jeremy Symons. at a small company called Keynote Musical Instruments based in Chiswick, West London, UK where we designed keyboards, speaker systems and mixing desks from June 1975.

2) I happened to be watching TV one evening and saw Billy Preston performing with the Beatles while actually wearing a Fender Rhodes electronic piano around his neck!

It was at that time when we had just started designing our monophonic Synthesiser called The Scorpion (see Synthmuseum.com) and, for no particular reason, my Brother had included an external output jack in the rear of the unit. At first I wasn't convinced it was a useful idea but when he explained that it would allow another remote keyboard to also play the same synth, it started a conversation between us because I couldn't see any advantage to it and felt having another keyboard elsewhere on the stage would only have a limited appeal.

Coincidentally, however, that evening while I was watching Billy Preston undertaking the mammoth task of both 'wearing' a Fender Rhodes piano around his neck and playing it at the same time, it struck me that if the two ideas of a remote keyboard which is also wearable could be designed to work with the Scorpion, we might have something useful.

It was only one more logical step until I also included the idea of a guitar-type neck in which would house the 'expressive' electronics such as a slide potentiometer for the pitch bender and it became obvious that this was a keyboard worn like a guitar and so should be name The Keytar.

Rick Wakeman was a good friend at the time and helped us with the first test runs of the earliest unit we produced which was, in fact, a floor board with a keyboard unit screwed onto it and a Guitar neck which I purchased from a local company called Chandler Guitars in Kew, West London.

To see if it would work in practice rather than just as an idea we routed out a space in the neck to house the slide potentiometer and added a guitar strap to complete the idea.

Rick Wakeman demonstrated our first production unit at Frankfurt Trade Fair the next year and our stand was crawling with competitors from all over the world - especially those from Yamaha and Roland.

Unfortunately we couldn't afford a Patent at the time so the idea was simply copied by the 'big boys'. We did take steps to protect the name, however, but as soon as it ran out, Hohner produced a very small cheap child's toy based on the same design as the Keytar and adopted the name as well.

Also, to be completely accurate, Roger Powell, who was a business contact of my Brother's and was Todd Rundgren's keyboard player in the band 'Utopia' had designed a self-contained wearable shoulder-hung synth called The Probe but it didn't have a guitar-type neck or any expression controls such as pitch bend or vibrato

Both Rick Wakeman and Landscape used the first Keytar and, in fact if the video for Landscape's record 'Einstein a go go' is watched on YouTube, you can see one of our first production Keytars which we lent to them especially for the shoot.

Therefore, all other shoulder-hung keyboards were copies of our original instrument, including the Moog Liberator and the many Yamaha, Roland etc Keytar-type instruments that followed afterwards.

Lesley Symons
replied to: lesyms
Replied To:  As the true originator or The Keytar back in the summer of 1977, I ...
Please post proof of your VERY far fetched claims.

Roger Powell conceptualized The "Powell Probe in 1977 and by his own account was playing it in 1979. His backround with computers, and technology are VERY well documented and factual. Also, Mr Powell's mentor was in fact, Bob Moog.

The Moog Liberation was released in 1980. This was the 'First Commercially released "Keytar"

Common sense would dictate from drawing board to release would require 1-2 years.

I find it suspicious that you now claim that Bob( moog) stole your idea. More interesting that you waited until after he passed to claim this.

Also, i would like to point out that "Einstein a go go" song was released in 1981.

You claim you owned the rights to the name "Keytar" please post the legal documentation to verify this.

replied to: Kne01
Replied To:  Please post proof of your VERY far fetched claims. Roger Powell ...
Timeline keytar before 1980s:
- 1800 Austria Orphica by Carl Leopold Rollig
- 1963 Switzerland Basset By Weltmeister
- 1966 Sweden Tubon by Jon Mustad
- 1977 USA RB-1 by Hillwood

Look at my video about the keytar history.


replied to: FanTC
Replied To:  Timeline keytar before 1980s: - 1800 Austria Orphica by Carl Leopo...

Its REALLY inaccurate, Sorry.
replied to: Kne01
Replied To:  Henry, Its REALLY inaccurate, Sorry.
Hallo kne01,

how can it be inaccurate, please tell me, this information can be found all over the internet. I've seen the Orphica from 1800 with my own eyes in a museum in Vianna. It was made to be hung around the neck and shoulders, like a keytar. The Tubon from 1963 was used by the Beatles in a few songs.