Rare Synth Showcase Part 7: PERFORMANCE MUSIC SYSTEMS  SYNTAR

A prototype Keytar than didn't hit its potential
Author:
Publish date:

Housed within an unassuming 30,000-square-foot building just outside Philadelphia is a massive collection of historically significant music gear. Under 25-foot ceilings, an extraordinary stockpile of vintage synthesizers sits alongside other keyboards, amplifiers, stompboxes, and recording equipment from years gone by. The climate-controlled building and all its contents belong to the Electronic Music Education and Preservation Project. EMEAPP is a non-profit organization devoted to collecting and preserving outstanding parcels of rock ’n’ roll and electronic music history for future generations.

PERFORMANCE MUSIC SYSTEMS
SYNTAR

Fig. 7

Fig. 7

In 1979, this extremely rare beast was almost certainly the first complete keytar — an analog monosynth with a 37-note keyboard that a player could strap on like a guitar (see Fig. 7). Whereas most electric guitars and basses weigh between 8 and 10 pounds, the Syntar weighs 14 pounds and came with a pair of Straplocks. Inventor George Mattson fitted the Syntar’s neck with real-time performance controls that incorporate spring-loaded buttons, which have been rigged to turn potentiometers controlling parameters such as pitch bend, filter sweep, vibrato, and tremolo. PMS manufactured and sold fewer than ten Syntars before the company went belly-up in the face of competition from Moog’s keytar, the Liberation, which launched the following year.