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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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Vintage Meinel & Herold Accordion, Germany
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage Meinel & Herold Accordion, Germany
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$252 Bids
Vintage Hess Klingenthal Accordion
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage Hess Klingenthal Accordion
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$152 Bids
Vintage La Traviata Piano Accordion
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage La Traviata Piano Accordion
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$202 Bids
Vintage Mienel & Herold Accordion, Germany
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage Mienel & Herold Accordion, Germany
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$202 Bids
Kurzweil Ebonized Baby Grand Keyboard
Oct 28, 10:00 AM EDT
Kurzweil Ebonized Baby Grand Keyboard
by Nye & Company
Est: $600- $800
$3000 Bids
32-key Crank-Organ by Arthur Prinsen, c. 1985
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
32-key Crank-Organ by Arthur Prinsen, c. 1985
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €7,000- €10,000
€4,8000 Bids
Hofbauer 37 Harmonipan Monkey Organ
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Hofbauer 37 Harmonipan Monkey Organ
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €3,000- €4,000
€2,2000 Bids
Gebrüder Bruder Universum Fairground Organ, c. 1925
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Gebrüder Bruder Universum Fairground Organ, c. 1925
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €30,000- €35,000
€20,0000 Bids
MANDOLINE
Nov 02, 2:30 PM CET
MANDOLINE
by Accademia Fine Art
Est: €100- €200
€1000 Bids
Vintage Operaphon Accordion
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage Operaphon Accordion
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
Vintage Keyed Accordion
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage Keyed Accordion
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
Antique Constant Busson Accordion, Mother Of
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Antique Constant Busson Accordion, Mother Of
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
LERENELLI BELLINI III vintage Italian piano accordion in case, mid 20th century
Nov 07, 10:00 AM AEDT
LERENELLI BELLINI III vintage Italian piano accordion in case, mid 20th century
by Leski Auctions Pty Ltd
Est: AUD300- AUD500
AUD2400 Bids
ROLAND G-800 KEYBOARD WORKSTATION.
Oct 30, 10:00 AM PDT
ROLAND G-800 KEYBOARD WORKSTATION.
by D.G.W. Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $300- $500
$2000 Bids
SEQUENTIAL CIRCUITS PROPHET 2000 KEYBOARD.
Oct 30, 10:00 AM PDT
SEQUENTIAL CIRCUITS PROPHET 2000 KEYBOARD.
by D.G.W. Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $500- $1,000
$4000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Keyboards


EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

Auction Team Breker

Auction Team Breker

Eldred's

Eldred's