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Music Thing: The Williams Keytar V-1

Peter Rojas

 Each week Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out, as well as noteworthy vintage equipment:

KeytarThe Williams Keytar V-1 was first shown at NAMM in January, but now they seem to be getting ready to start mass production.

It's a huge triangular 12-string semi-acoustic guitar with no neck or fingerboard - instead, there's a one-octave piano keyboard which somehow controls the strings. It's not exactly clear how it operates. One MT reader who's played it says it's a little like a Clavinet (the funky '70s instrument Stevie Wonder played on 'Superstition').

The website says the Keytar V-1 is an "authentic sounding, legitimate instrument". There are several Real Audio clips on the site which are… well, I wouldn't want to spoil the experience of listening for yourself.

The man behind the Keytar is Vinson Williams. His previous business enterprises seem to include a rocket belt company in the mid ?90s. The rocket belt business is a cut throat one - Vinson?s business partner was kidnapped and locked in a box for eight days by one associate (who was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2003), while another was murdered, in a case that has never been solved.

Hopefully Vinson will find the music-gear business more salubrious, and he clearly has high hopes for his invention. Keytar Inc. have just opened a 10,444-square-foot factory in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which will be able to produce 200 Keytars a day, selling at $999 each.

However, some cynical Music Thing readers think that the Keytar V-1 is not an entirely original invention. They point to the Autoharp, a large, triangular acoustic stringed instrument played with keys, and an Indian instrument called the Bulbul Tarang, which is a plucked, stringed instrument controlled by piano keys, also known as a keyboard sitar. Ignore them, Vinson, we wish you well!

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