NAMM 2019: Yamaha’s Sonogenic SHS-500 keytar makes it easy for kids (and dogs) to play along with their favourite songs

NAMM 2019: Yamaha has a rich heritage in the keytar market - if that’s not a contradiction in terms - so we’re delighted to see that it’s embracing the strap-on synth once again with the launch of the Sonogenic SHS-500.

Although this can be played like a normal keytar – again, if that’s not a contradiction in terms - and comes with 30 built-in sounds that cover pianos, synths and drum kits, there’s an ‘entertainment’ angle to the Sonogenic, too, which is designed to extend its appeal to the youth market.

It ships with Yamaha’s Chord Tracker app, which can analyse the music library on your mobile device and then send chord data to the instrument wirelessly via MIDI over Bluetooth. Then, when you engage the Jam mode, the Sonogenic’s keys will trigger only the correct chords and appropriate soloing notes, the idea being that even beginners will be able to play along to their favourite songs.

Yamaha calls this the ‘instrumental karaoke’ concept and, if it works, we can certainly see the appeal. If you believe the above promo video, it’s something that even dogs can enjoy.

Before you run a mile, though, bear in mind that the SHS-500 can also function as a wireless Bluetooth MIDI controller and USB audio interface. What’s more, there are pitchbend, modulation, octave shifting, key transpose and song playback controls on the neck.

The Sonogenic SHS-500 will be available this very month priced at $499. Find out more on the Yamaha website.


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Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.