Best Keytars – Play Your Keyboard Just Like a Guitar

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Last updatedLast updated: July 31, 2022
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So, what’s a keytar, you might ask? You might have seen it before but might not have heard its name or used it.

A keytar instrument is a cool-looking lightweight synthesizer that one can hold like a guitar, and it looks like a piano. Famous musicians loved to use them back in the disco era, but they still exist today.

Whether you are looking for a MIDI keytar guitar or a full-fledged instrument, we have examined and gathered a list of the best keytars. We have ranked them based on their performance and capability to simplify things for you. Check out our detailed reviews and buyer’s guide so you can get the best keytar for your needs.

1.

Roland AX-EdgeEditor's Choice

Features
  • Number of Keys: 49
  • Velocity Sensitive: Yes
  • Analog Inputs: 1 x 1/4″ (mic)
  • Analog Outputs: 2 x 1/4″ (main out)
  • MIDI I/O: In/Out/Bluetooth
  • Item weight: 9 lbs. 5 oz.

Other features: 256-note polyphony, 500+ onboard sounds, ribbon controller, modulation bar, optional battery power

Roland is one of the most popular companies that manufacture this AX-Edge latest music instrument. It is based on decades of learning and refinement for the world of artists about performance synthesizers.

The modern and sleek design comes with interchangeable blades, which give it a customizable look. Furthermore, this keytar is available in black or white colors. Each color comes with individual elements that make it unique.

The best thing is that it features the latest dual-display system. The display keeps the user in a command. Meanwhile, the song player and onboard arpeggiator manage backing duties, and you can concentrate on your audience.

You can use this keytar with both your hands. Use the right hand for the playable keyboard and the left hand for using the modulation bar, pitch ribbons, program change, and an octave switch.

We recommend this musical instrument because it features 256-notes polyphony, plus more than 500 onboard sounds. Moreover, inbuilt vocoder and special internal sounds make the AX-Edge ideal for backing vocal, funky, and retro lead parts.

It comes with dedicated buttons, so you can instantly access big-fat basses, edgy lead, and many more keyboard sounds. For performance enhancement, your purchase comes with an additional edge Blade.

You can also connect to its Ax-Edge editor app for giving stunning effects to your sound. You can use Bluetooth MIDI to connect it with the app and wirelessly tweak your sounds. It features full-size 49 keys that make it a fully functional keytar.

This Roland AX-Edge keytar has a rechargeable battery lasting more than 4 hours. So, 4 hours of working is less, especially for live performances.

You need to purchase another battery along with you. Apart from that, wireless connectivity such as MIDI and USB enhance the performance of the AX-Edge.

What makes it stand out?

  • USB connectivity gives the complete backup capability
  • Create customized design or use inbuilt edge blades for ultimate performance
  • Reassigned controls make it easy to use with both hands

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • Battery power doesn't last long

2.

Yamaha Sonogenic SHS-500Best For Beginners

Features
  • Number of Keys: 37
  • Velocity Sensitive: Soft, Medium, Hard, Fixed
  • Analog Inputs: 1 x 1/8″
  • Analog Outputs: 1 x 1/4″
  • MIDI I/O: Out/USB
  • Item weight: 3 lbs. (without batteries)

Other features: Bluetooth MIDI for wireless iOS connectivity, modulation wheel, DSP effects engine

Yamaha presents the Sonogenic SHS-500 keytar that comes with a compact keyboard. This compact keyboard contains 37 keys, so you can rhythmically interact with music.

This compact keyboard comes with Jam mode, making it easy to use, especially for beginners. Because you don’t need to worry about the song’s right notes.

The analog input and output enhance the usability of this keytar. You can connect it with your computer, or any other music player, and instrument speaker.

However, if you have an iOS device and you want to play notes of songs, then in our opinion, you have to purchase Sonogenic SHS-500 by Yamaha. This is because this keytar features iOS wireless connectivity, Bluetooth MIDI, and USB.

The modulation wheel allows you to control the modulation effect on the sound.

It will keep the desired setting until you decrease and increase it again. Furthermore, it comes with several velocity sensitives, including soft, medium, hard, and fixed.

Also, comes with the Yamaha chord tracking app. The best thing is to use this app with iOS and play your favorite iTunes music. Plenty of other keyboards do not allow connectivity of your keytar with iOS.

You will experience that the keys of this keytar are a little bit smaller than the standard keytar. For that reason, it offers limited whistles and bells. Therefore, it is the best keytar for beginners. They can practice and become experts in available notes.

What are its best features?

  • Comes with compact 37 keys, making it easy for beginners
  • Best lightweight, affordable, and budget-friendly keytar
  • Built-in speaker, so no need to connect external speaker while practicing

What could be improved?

  • Limited features
  • Smaller keyboard

3.

Korg RK-100SLightest Keytar

Features
  • Number of Keys: 37
  • Velocity Sensitive: 8 x Velocity Curves, Adjustable
  • Analog Inputs: 1 x 1/8″ (mic/line)
  • Analog Outputs: 1 x 1/4″
  • MIDI I/O: Out
  • Item weight: 72 lbs. (with batteries)

Other features: wooden body, dual ribbon controllers, 200 presets, iZotope ozone elements

Another innovative model of keytar is the Korg RK-100S. The simple and attractive design allows you to switch many settings easily. It comes with 2 ribbon controllers that are located on the keytar keyboard.

The Korg RK-100S keytar is a portable, lightweight musical instrument powered with six AA batteries. It is available in four colors, each color makes it stylish.

This RK-100S keytar features an inbuilt analog modeling generator of sound. So, there is no need to attach any sound module externally. Several innovative functions and features include a vocoder, an arpeggiator, and 2 ribbon controllers.

Furthermore, this sleek keytar keyboard has favorite buttons. You can register your most frequently used sound in your favorite buttons. You can select your favorite music with one touch.

It features 200 inbuilt analog modeling programs. These programs enhance the performance and deliver high-quality sound. Moreover, an inbuilt sound engine allows you to connect an audio cable for more enjoyable, smart, and active performance.

The wooden body makes the Korg RK-100S keytar durable and lightweight compared to other keytars. This keytar comes with 200 presets and iZotope ozone elements, boosting your sound quality and performance. An audio or mic input jack is available with the vocoder function. The plug-and-play feature makes it easy to use.

It comes with built-in speakers, so there is no need to connect an external player during practice. The connectivity options increase usability and functionality. We are highly impressed with the sound quality of this keytar.

Because of inbuilt analog modeling sound generators, 200 programs, and other innovative sound engines. However, you cannot upgrade your MIDI controllers with modern features. You have to practice only with outdated MIDI controllers.

What are our favorite features?

  • Slim keyboard make it lightweight and compact
  • Inbuilt analog modeling music generator, so no need for external module of sound
  • Add your frequently used music in favorite button for your ease

What could be better?

  • A little bit expensive
  • Cannot upgrade your MIDI controllers

4.

Alesis Vortex Wireless 2Wireless Connectivity

Features
  • Number of Keys: 37
  • Velocity Sensitive: Yes
  • Analog Inputs: N/A
  • Analog Outputs: N/A
  • MIDI I/O: 5-pin MIDI output
  • Item weight: 6.6 pounds

Other features: wireless connectivity, assignable touch strip, RGB trigger pads, back-lit faders, volume slider, pitch wheel

If you are looking for a fully wireless keytar, we suggest Alesis Vortex Wireless 2. An ergonomic design increases its playability. The layout of this keyster comes with upgraded controls.

Plus, this keytar gives comprehensive functionality of MIDI controllers in a stage-ready and stylish design. A stunning and elegant black gloss finish makes the design more attractive.

Alesis Vortex Wireless 2 has velocity-sensitive 37 keys, eight RGB back-lit drum pads, and eight MIDI faders. Additionally, many neck controls offer more performance options.

You can use MIDI touch assignable strips for tweaking sound. It also provides you with several connectivity options and is equipped with traditional MIDI output jacks and USB-MIDI.

This dynamic wireless and MIDI controller keytar connects wireless with your laptop or computer. You can easily integrate with the most famous virtual instruments, DAWs, and other plugins.

The Mac and PC compatible USB dongle wants only one USB port to create a road-ready and ultra-reliable wireless connection for studio mobility and maximum stage. You will experience an expressive and dynamic performance that gathers more audience.

Alesis Vortex Wireless 2 keytar comes with a complete world-class software package that delivers a studio environment. That software includes Hybrid 3, Loom, Mini Grand, Vacuum Pro, Ableton Live Lite, Xpand, and MPC Beats.

You can use your thumb to control the volume slider, plus a pitch-bend reversible wheel to express yourself.

This wireless keytar comes with eight programmable sliders that make it easy to use. The company uses innovative Bluetooth technology to enhance the performance of connectivity.

However, fewer users do not find it user-friendly. Also, it doesn’t come with any usage instruction and support, which creates complications for users to use.

What makes it special?

  • An incredible wireless keytar can work up to 400 feet away from the laptop
  • Features with many premium wireless bundles of plugins create a studio environment
  • Best workstation MIDI controller, no additional gears required

What cons did we find?

  • Not user-friendly keytar
  • Buttons are not clicky, but soft might be pressed accidentally

5.

Yamaha VocaloidBudget Friendly

Features
  • Number of Keys: 37
  • Velocity Sensitive: Yes
  • Analog Inputs: 3.5 mm stereo mini-phone jack
  • Analog Outputs: 6.3 mm stereo standard phone jack
  • MIDI I/O: USB
  • Item weight: 4.92 pounds

Other features: vocal presets included, slim and lightweight keyboard, very rare keytar

Yamaha Vocaloid is one of the popular singing-synth keytars. It can be used in several electronic genres of music. This keytar comes with 37 keys and offers basic options for connectivity.

The Vocaloid function makes it unique as compared to other keytars. A large inbuilt bank of vocals presents tweak effects.

However, in our opinion, the Yamaha Vocaloid keytar is ideal for beginners. You can play it in traditional keyboard mode, which delivers great quality sound. You will experience something pretty cool.

The best thing is that you can also adjust inbuilt vocals according to your requirements and tastes.

Moreover, you can program your lyrics and melody into this instrument. You can make changes in the sound by adding vibrato, changing dynamics, and much more.

The Yamaha Vocaloid keytars are the best keytar if you like to make anime soundtracks. Additionally, this is lightweight, portable, and easy to use. So, you can make your music by using a traditional keyboard that comes with 37 keys.

You can use the Vocaloid software to enhance the performance of this keytar. It also comes with an inbuilt speaker, so it is unnecessary to attach an external speaker.

The battery of this Yamaha Vocaloid keytar comes with a long-lasting battery, so you can use it confidently. However, this keytar gives you limited connectivity. So, you can feel any difficulty while connecting with your laptop.

What are its best features?

  • Traditional style keytar, easy to use
  • Builtin vocoder deliver premium quality sound
  • Budget-Friendly option

What could be improved?

  • Connectivity options are limited

Things to Consider

There are different types of keytars available on the market. They vary in terms of their many keys and various other features. If you are looking for a high-end device, they might come with extra features.

But the basic ones also come with an affordable price tag. It all depends upon what your needs and requirements are and what’s your budget. This buying guide will discuss some important features that these keytars come with.

Features to Consider Before You Buy a Keytar

We will discuss different features that you must consider before buying a keytar. You will have to look for the total number of keys that an instrument comes with.

Also, look if it has velocity sensitivity in those keys or not. Check whether it comes with other features, such as pads, pitch bends, and aftertouch.

Number of Keys

We have seen that most keytars come with 37 keys, but some keytars come with as many as 49, such as Roland AX-Edge. With more keys, you will get additional keys that are fully programmable.

You will get a combination of standard keys for tune creation and other additional keys that are fully programmable. You can use these programmable keys to connect the instrument with computers, use them for different controls, and even customize the tunes.

Velocity Sensitive

Velocity sensitivity is critical as it allows you to make tunes more exciting and add more variety. The Yamaha Sonogenic SHS-500 is the best when it comes to velocity sensitivity.

It will enable you to play your tunes with more complexity. Your music will become more versatile, and you can produce more complicated tunes based on your skills.

Features

These keytars come with fully programmable pads and function as triggers for various live performances. Moreover, pitch-bending is another cool feature because it lets you bend the note by tilting the keytar upwards.

These features come in the keytars like the Alesis Vortex Wireless 2 allows you to create your tone with more actions and swings.

Playing your keytars becomes much more fun with these features, and you will love playing your instrument when you have access to these modes and pads with aftertouch and pitch-bending.

Wired or Wireless

The market has both wired and wireless keytars available. You can go for either option based on your preferences. Most of them are wired, but the wireless ones are equipped with Bluetooth technology.

These wireless keyboards are reliable, and they have very stable connectivity. Of course, playing wireless makes your life much easier as you can conveniently move around.

If you love playing keytar in your hands, you should go for the wireless version, but consider going for a wired one if you play it while sitting. Almost all options listed above are wireless, suitable for playing while standing.

Playing Keytar

DEVO 1981 (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)

Internal sounds

You can find keytars that come with internal sounds. These internal sounds come mostly in new models of keytars that are only MIDI controllers. It means you will need a computer to create those sounds.

The biggest benefit of this feature is that you can conveniently access any sound you need. The Roland AX-Edge is the one that comes with internal pounds. It also comes with different programmable keys that you can use to create highly versatile and creative tunes and use in your music.

There is no limit to the sound you can create from such an instrument if you have a MIDI controller keytar. Different VST programs come with thousands of sounds.

Weight

Weight is a significant factor that you must consider if you prefer playing your guitar while standing. Of course, you have to carry it around; therefore, it should be lightweight, or you will get tired while holding it in your hands.

Even if you have a durable strap on, your shoulder will become tired after a while, and it will also hinder your movement while performing.

The lightest option available in this list is the Korg RK-100S. You can conveniently move around with this instrument, and you won’t have any issues during your performance.

Price

You have to keep in mind your budget before you go for an option. There are different keytars available based on the price. But with the low price point, you will have to compromise on certain features.

With more features, you will have to spend more. If you are looking for a more complex instrument, you better have a bigger budget. But for a more budget-friendly option, the Yamaha Vocaloid is the best option.

Straps

Most of these keytars come out with their straps, especially if you can play them while standing. Just wear them on your shoulder, and you will be able to play them like a guitar.

Make sure that you go for a good quality star, and it can take a toll, especially if you tend to use your instrument a lot over time. But even if you don’t use your instrument that much, you will still need to have quality straps to ensure they last.

And you don’t have to keep replacing the steps again and again after a short while. The Roland AX-Edge comes with good quality breathable straps that you can continue to wear for a long period.

Connectivity

If you are looking to play your keytar using your computer, you must consider that your instrument should come with different connectivity options.

Most of these instruments come with a dongle, and you will have to plug it into the USB port. For this, you will need a 1.1 USB port. Moreover, your instrument will also come with a software program that you will have to download and install on your laptop.

If you are using your laptop, live with a MIDI controller; keep your laptop for that specific purpose. This is especially the case if you are going a lot of touring.

You don’t need your laptop to bog down for anything outside music. It is because your system will work much better this way.

FAQ

These keytars are electronic keyboards that look like guitars, and you can use them like one. They come with a strap, and you can wear them on your shoulder and play while standing.

These keytars come with controls on their neck, and they are pretty easy to access and use. Keytars were invented back in the 1980s Trusted Source Keytar - Wikipedia The Moog Liberation was released in 1980 by Moog Music, and was considered the first mass-produced strap synthesizer.[6] It included two monophonic VCOs and a polyphonic section that could play organ sounds. The neck had spring-loaded wheels for filter cutoff, modulation, and volume as well as a ribbon-controlled pitch bend. The Liberation had a single VCF and two ADS envelope generators. en.wikipedia.org , and the instrument is resurfacing thanks to electronic music.

A few simple steps are involved in playing this simple but interesting instrument. You need to put everything together and jam out your favorite tune.

So, you have to manipulate the modulation, vibrato, and pitch of all notes using those buttons present on the left hand on the neck of the instrument. You can even plug in a regular guitar amplifier.

Sling your instrument from your shoulder and adjusting the strap allows your right hand to reach those keys comfortably.

Just practice the keyboard using your right hand if you are used to playing the piano. You can also take piano lessons and fine-tune your keyboard skills using this instrument. Most of the keytars are synthesizer keyboards.

Yes, playing a keytar is slightly difficult because it comes with a much shorter key, and you will have to play it with your single hand if you are standing and performing.

But developing skills to play it will be much simpler if you have basic learning about the piano. But once you can develop skills in laying these instruments, you can use them to create a wide range of sounds.

There are numerous simpler guitar songs that you can play on these instruments as playing chords is pretty easy and keytar. But you need to know which keys you have to play that will result in the sound you need.

This instrument has a musical keyboard, triggering musical sounds and notes. Different controls are represented on the neck, including pitch sounds, portamento, vibrato, and sustain.

Keytars only look lame or cool because of what you bring to the table. But you can say that they are the ultimate geek or chic instrument out there. However, you can always agree that this instrument hasn’t aged very well compared to the other instruments.

Our Verdict

The best keytar on the market is the Roland AX-Edge. It comes with the best features you need to consider for your music creation. It has a MIDI controller and features an internal sound that will allow you to create any tune in no time.

However, if you are new to playing a keytar, consider the Yamaha Sonogenic SHS-500. This is the best option for newbies because it has a simple set of controls with mobile phone connectivity.

On the third spot is the Korg RK-100S, a top choice because of its lightweight construction. If you love performing on your feet, this is the best choice to consider.

You can go for other options if you are looking for a budget-friendly option or if you are looking for wireless connectivity.

These are the best keytars instruments that you can find on the market today. They are pretty simple to use. If you have some experience with pain, you can comfortably play a keytar without much practice.

But of course, to create exceptional tones, you will have to be good with your fingers, and you will have to be able to use those programmable keys and other features efficiently. However, if you are looking for endless creativity and sound options, go for a keytar that comes with a MIDI controller.

References

1.
Keytar - Wikipedia
The Moog Liberation was released in 1980 by Moog Music, and was considered the first mass-produced strap synthesizer.[6] It included two monophonic VCOs and a polyphonic section that could play organ sounds. The neck had spring-loaded wheels for filter cutoff, modulation, and volume as well as a ribbon-controlled pitch bend. The Liberation had a single VCF and two ADS envelope generators.
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