The piano is an instrument that will never go out of style. The various forms of electronic keyboards, however, have seen waves of popularity, as technology advances and exciting new features are added to new models. While some keyboardists are content to stay horizontal, a handful of musical trailblazers have been known to work their magic on that most interesting hybrid of instruments – the keytar. Whether you’re new to learning keyboard, or a seasoned expert, the keytar can be a fun instrument to explore.
Check out these four reasons why the keytar deserves its niche in the world of popular band instruments.
1. They’re more portable for travel than stand-up keyboards.
Some keyboardists are inseparable from their massive setups, with big stands, multiple keyboards, extra controls, and more. However, many touring artists prefer to have less baggage to check while traveling, and the keytar can be the ideal solution for this. Power/speed metal band Cellador is based out of Denver, for example, but their keyboardist and keytarist Diego Valadez flies routinely from Los Angeles to perform with them; sometimes on longer tours, you’ll catch him showing off bigger toys, but mostly the keytar is his lightweight go-to. This is also a useful property when you’re first learning keyboard; a keytar is relatively easy to take to a friend’s house to jam!
2. They allow you to be fully mobile on stage.
One of the most fun things about live performance is being able to jam out to the songs just like a fan! Many a keyboardist has had to restrain themselves to that knee-and-ankle rock back and forth, but with a keytar, this limitation is gone. Whole-body headbanging, strutting around, and all kinds of other options are opened up with a keytar’s mobility, especially when you make your setup even more efficient and versatile with additions like effect pedals. For those who like to sing and play at the same time, Alestorm’s Christopher Bowes is proof that a keytarist can be a great lead singer as well.
3. They’re way more fun for fans to watch than traditional setups.
On a regular keyboard, the musician’s hands are typically a little hard for the audience to see. Most setups involve standing up, and the board being horizontal is an issue for fans up front. With a keytar, not only can the fans see your body language as you rock out, but they can get up close and personal with the sheer speed of your keyboard playing. Fans go wild when beloved keyboardists like Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess break out the keytar and show off their skills. Take a look at this video to see what we mean (Rudess starts in at 0:20):
4. They’re anything but an overdone gimmick.
Keytars sit in a convenient gray area, between the sheer power and audience command of an electric guitar, and the eccentricity of the accordion. Indeed, keytars and accordions appear commonly in good company, with “Weird” Al Yankovic being a champion of both. Keytars are a great way to make a standout statement, without quite going over the edge of oddness. Anyone learning keyboard who decides to pick up the keytar will find themselves in a small but solid crowd of company; other well-known artists who have featured this versatile instrument include Lady Gaga and Prince, as well as the bands Asia, Steely Dan, and MUSE.
For both seasoned pianists and those new to learning keyboard, the keytar opens up a range of new and exciting possibilities. No matter where you are in your life’s musical progression, it’s always possible to benefit from some quality private lessons, so don’t be afraid to seek out a good teacher. There will always be new and interesting hybrid instruments invented, so stay versatile and have some fun exploring!
Photo by m01229