It’s a Keytar from Yamaha! Very on-trend since the Alesis Vortex, the Roland AX-Edge and even the mod grip enabled Behringer MS-101. It seems that synth players want their moment in the spotlight again. I thought we did that years ago and then got over it – but you’ve got to let the kids express themselves. But then this is all about the kids. The SHS-500 is very much a fun device for getting kids interested in playing their favourite songs.
The SHS-500 has a child-like and educational focus. Yamaha is marketing it as “a musical keyboard that can be held like a guitar – that enables young music fans to play famous hit songs, regardless of musical ability.” Yamaha wants to make music making fun and accessible and the SHS-500 puts you “in the band”. But despite the slightly Fisher-Price approach it does have some interesting features.
First of all, it contains 30 high-quality Yamaha sounds including piano, synths and 2 drum kits. So you are ready to rock straight out of the box. Ok, ignoring the onboard sounds then it has Bluetooth MIDI for connection to your laptop or iPad to access all those lovely musical apps and virtual instrument software. But central to the SHS-500 experience is an app called the Chord Tracker. This app will analyse the music on your phone or tablet and then send chord data directly to the Keytar. Why is that helpful? Because now you can play along with your favourite tunes and you will never play a wrong note! You can have your music playback through the SHS-500 if you want, making it an audio interface as well.
On the neck you get performance controls such as pitch bend, modulation, octave shifting and playback controls for your connected device.
It looks quite neat, although it’s probably smaller than it appears. It could possibly be a load of fun! Synth musician Plasmic was rocking it in the NAMM preview hall earlier (sorry for the terrible picture).
The price is $299. I sense that there’s a specific market for this device which is probably not us. But check out the party these guys are having:
- Yamaha webpage.