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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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Alesis Melody 61 Keyboard With Stand & Stool
Mar 02, 10:00 AM MST
Alesis Melody 61 Keyboard With Stand & Stool
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
Mason and Hamlin Organ
Mar 02, 9:00 AM EST
Mason and Hamlin Organ
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$50 Bids
Antique Chautauqua Roller Organ and cobs
Mar 08, 10:00 AM EST
Antique Chautauqua Roller Organ and cobs
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
YAMAHA ELECTONE CHURCH ORGAN
Mar 07, 10:00 AM GMT
YAMAHA ELECTONE CHURCH ORGAN
by Sheppards
Est: €200- €300
€1200 Bids
HOHNER MELODICA PIANO 26 IN TASCHE, KAUFBELEG ANBEI (DM 77-1982)
Mar 02, 11:00 AM CET
HOHNER MELODICA PIANO 26 IN TASCHE, KAUFBELEG ANBEI (DM 77-1982)
by Auktionshalle Cuxhaven
Est: €0- €0
€50 Bids
AKKORDEON "HOHNER" VERDI
Mar 02, 11:00 AM CET
AKKORDEON "HOHNER" VERDI
by Auktionshalle Cuxhaven
Est: €0- €0
€1000 Bids
KL. AAKKORDEON "MM", SPIELBEREIT, 32 BÄSSE
Mar 02, 11:00 AM CET
KL. AAKKORDEON "MM", SPIELBEREIT, 32 BÄSSE
by Auktionshalle Cuxhaven
Est: €0- €0
€400 Bids
KL. AKKORDEON "HOHNER" MIGNON IN TASCHE,
Mar 02, 11:00 AM CET
KL. AKKORDEON "HOHNER" MIGNON IN TASCHE,
by Auktionshalle Cuxhaven
Est: €0- €0
€500 Bids
Vintage Accordian
Mar 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Vintage Accordian
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $50- $100
$200 Bids
1997 Schylling Child's Accordion
Mar 23, 7:00 AM PDT
1997 Schylling Child's Accordion
by California Auction Company LLC
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
Aeolian Orchestrelle Player Reed Organ, c. 1900
Mar 23, 10:00 AM CET
Aeolian Orchestrelle Player Reed Organ, c. 1900
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €2,000- €3,000
€1,2000 Bids
Raffin Model R20/40z Meloton Street Organ, c. 1980
Mar 23, 10:00 AM CET
Raffin Model R20/40z Meloton Street Organ, c. 1980
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €1,800- €2,200
€1,2000 Bids
Casio Cdp-200r Electric Keyboard W/stool
Mar 09, 10:00 AM MST
Casio Cdp-200r Electric Keyboard W/stool
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Keyboards


Auktionshalle Cuxhaven

Auktionshalle Cuxhaven

Auction Team Breker

Auction Team Breker

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

Copake Auction Inc.

Copake Auction Inc.