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Keyboards

The first instrument to include a keyboard was the pipe organ invented by the Romans in the 3rd century B.C. Other instruments that use keyboards include the clavichord, harpsichord, and piano. In 1760, Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde invented the clavecin electrique, a keyboard instrument that used electrified picks to pluck the strings.

Elisha Gray invented the first version of the analog electric synthesizer in 1876. Called the musical telegraph, the instrument used a basic single-note oscillator to produce sound. The first electronic synthesizer was produced about 1905 by Max Kohl and the Audion Piano. An electric piano that used vacuum tubes was invented by Lee DeForrest in 1915. Further developments to these instruments were made throughout the '20s. In 1935, the electric Hammond Organ appeared, and Rhodes produced the first electric piano in the '40s. Music synthesizers became popular in the '60s, and in 1970, Bob Moog introduced the Minimoog, a small synthesizer with a built-in keyboard. This instrument set the standard for modern electronic keyboards.

Vintage keyboards from the late '60s and '70s are highly desirable to collectors today. In addition to the Minimoog, the Mellotron Mark II and the Hohner Clavinet appeared in the early '70s. Other vintage electric keyboards from the '70s that are of interest to collectors include keyboards by EMS of London and ARP of Massachusetts. Digital keyboards from the '80s include models produced by Roland, Korg, and Yamaha.


Quick Facts

  • Stevie Wonder performed his 1972 hit "Superstition" on a Hohner Clavinet C
  • The Prophet-5 by Sequential Circuits was the first electric keyboard that could store a musician's customized sounds. Known as the Rev-1, only 182 of the first edition of the Prophet-5 were produced and few are still in existence
  • The original electronic synthesizer built by Max Kohl in 1905 was based on a design by Hermann von Hemholtz. The synthesizer was sold at auction by Bonham's in 2014 for $20,000

Recommended Items at Auction

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Estey Co. Gothic Revival Cottage Organ, 19th C
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Hohner Two-Row Button Accordion
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Mason Hamlin Style 109 Reed Organ Harmonium
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Mason Hamlin Style 109 Reed Organ Harmonium
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Italian Accordion
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Est: $100- $300
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Organ
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Organ
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Est: $5- $500
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Sellers Who Sell Keyboards


Railtons

Railtons

Mebane Antique Auction

Mebane Antique Auction

Link Auction Galleries

Link Auction Galleries

Maison Jules Veilinghuis

Maison Jules Veilinghuis