Yamaha released the party-infused SHS-500 Keytar at NAMM in January well now their back with a simpler and even more fruity version, the SHS-300.
It’s a bright, light plastic keyboard with a stick on one end that transforms it into a performance instrument. It’s battery-powered and comes with a built-in speaker making it a nice little portable music-making machine. It comes with 12 AWM sounds with up to 32 note polyphony covering piano, synth, guitar and “other” all accessible on the neck. As are the pitch wheel, vibrato and sustain buttons.
Apparently, according to the website, the word “Keytar” comes from “Key” board + Gui “tar” – well, how about that?
It has a headphone output and an auxiliary input so you can patch something in to use the speaker. There’s also a USB connection and this can act as a MIDI interface.
But where this little thing comes alive is via the JAM Function and the Chord Tracker app. The JAM function basically takes all the effort out of learning to play by scaling and adapting the notes to the song you’re playing along to. The SHS-300 connects to your Smart Phone via Bluetooth and then has access to the Chord Tracker app. You can load up songs and the JAM function quantizers the pitch of the SHS-300 to the correct chord or notes. Just slapping on the keys can produce exactly the right chord progression or awesome lead solo.
This is demonstrated brilliantly by Tokyo based artist Mashinomi:
The SHS-300 is a simple and fun way to play along to your favourite tunes while offering some educational value and has potential for any performer or busker. The Bluetooth feature and batteries mean that don’t have to be tethered but it’s unclear whether the Bluetooth supports MIDI on its own. Otherwise, there’s always USB. At €243 it seems expensive but then the larger and more expansive SHS-500 is €324.
- Yamaha SHS-300 webpage.