Who needs a guitar when you've got Elyra, the multitimbral, polyphonic synthesizer that you can strap on and strum?

Various attempts have been made in the past to bring together the concepts of the synthesizer and the guitar in a new hybrid instrument. We've had the keytar, the SynthAxe and MIDI guitars like the Jamstik Smart Guitar, and now joining this lineage of innovation is a new product from BLL Instruments. 

Elyra is a polyphonic and multitimbral synthesizer that can be hooked up to a strap and played like a guitar. The instrument's interface is made up of two "strumming zones", a fretboard made up of a 4x12 of touch-sensitive pads, two assignable sliders and an OLED screen alongside a touch wheel and a number of additional buttons.

Just like a guitar, the instrument is played by selecting a note via the fretboard and sounding the "strings" by striking one of the two strumming zones; one is designed for chordal strumming and the other for riffs and arpeggios. You're able to slide from one note to another, execute pull-offs and hammer-ons, and tune the virtual strings to any configuration of notes that you like.


(Image credit: BLL Instruments)

Though it's designed to be used with a strap, the battery-powered instrument can also be laid flat and played on a desktop like a conventional synth; when Keys Mode is activated, notes can be sounded with a single press on the corresponding pad, without using the strumming zones. 

Elyra's equipped with a synth engine designed by Kodamo, the makers of the Mask1 synthesizer; delivering both virtual analogue and FM synthesis, its polyphonic architecture offers 16 voices, and timbres can be layered to create multitimbral patches. 

Two LFOs are onboard and you'll have a choice of two resonant filters, a 2-pole -12dB/oct low-pass and 4-pole -24dB/Oct high-pass filter. Three effects slots on the master can be filled with a choice of distortion, overdrive, bitcrusher, chorus, delay and reverb. If you don't fancy making use of Elyra's unique interface, there's a 256-step sequencer onboard for programming patterns stored via SD card. 

Elyra is available now for $1099/€1199. Find out more on BLL Instruments' website.

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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