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Mid-1970s Stylophone being played

The Stylophone is a miniature analog stylus-operated keyboard. Invented in 1967 by Brian Jarvis,[1] it entered production in 1968, manufactured by Dubreq. It consists of a metal keyboard played by touching it with a stylus—each note being connected to a voltage-controlled oscillator via a different-value resistor—thus closing a circuit. The only other controls were a power switch and a vibrato control on the front panel beside the keyboard, and a tuning control on the rear. Some three million Stylophones were sold, mostly as children's toys.

The Stylophone was available in three variants: standard, bass, and treble, the standard one being by far the most common. There was also a larger version called the 350S with more notes on the keyboard, various voices, a novel 'wah-wah' effect that was controlled by moving one's hand over a photo-sensor, and two styluses.

In the mid-1970s a new model appeared which featured pseudo-wood on the speaker panel and a volume control. This was shortly before the Stylophone ceased production altogether in 1975.

2007 revival[edit]

2007 relaunch Stylophone from Re:creation

In October 2007 toy company Re:creation, in conjunction with Dubreq Ltd (re-formed in 2003 by Ben Jarvis, the son of the original inventor), re-launched the Stylophone, 32 years after the original had ceased to be manufactured. The new model, officially called the S1, is a digital copy that closely resembles the 1960s original but has a volume control and features an audio throughput function, as well as sporting two new sounds.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

  • David Bowie is credited with playing the Stylophone on his 1969 debut hit song Space Oddity.[3]
  • Tony Visconti played Stylophone on the Sparks 1975 album Indiscreet.
  • The Kraftwerk classic 1981 song "Pocket Calculator" uses the Stylophone. It's one of the main instruments on this track and a 'Stylophone solo' ends the song.[citation needed]
  • The 1999 track "Style" (and its several other versions) by Orbital takes its name from Stylophone, which is used extensively on the track.[4]
  • American alternative rock group They Might Be Giants has made use of the Stylophone on their 2007 album The Else.
  • BBC film critic Mark Kermode played a Stylophone on the 8 January 2010 instalment of his and Simon Mayo's film review programme. Kermode described recently learning how to play the instrument.[5]
  • On the 5 March 2010 edition of his Kermode Uncut vodcast, Mark Kermode played a rendition of Richard Strauss' Sunrise on the Stylophone in homage to Duncan Jones' film Moon.[6]
  • Richard Barone uses Stylophone on numerous recordings, including "Glow" and '"Girl" on his 2010 album Glow. On the latter song it is a played by his producer Tony Visconti.
  • Stylophone is being used as a main instrument by Russian rock-group 'Gromyka'.[7]
  • British band Pulp use the Stylophone prominently in their song "Styloroc (Nites of Suburbia)", which appears on their 1992 Babies single and 1993 compilation album Intro – The Gift Recordings.[8]
  • Dan Howell, a British YouTuber and BBC radio presenter, is known for playing the Stylophone.
  • Brett Domino, a British comedian is a well known user of the Stylophone, featuring it in many of his YouTube videos.
  • Electronic musician Moiré features Stylophone in many of his tracks. [9]

Stylophone S2[edit]

In December 2012, Dubreq released the Series 2 Stylophone, a British made, true full spec analogue synth.[10]

Stylophone Gen X-1[edit]

In January 2017 , Dubreq released details of the Stylophone Gen X-1 portable analogue synthesizer.[11]


  1. ^ David McNamee. "Hey, what's that sound: Stylophone | Music". Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  2. ^ Elliott, Amy-Mae (14 September 2007). ""Iconic" Seventies Stylophone to be revived by HMV". Pocket-Lint Ltd. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  3. ^ "AllMusic Credits Space Oddity". 
  4. ^ "The single and the instrument described by Loopz, the official Orbital fanzine.". 
  5. ^ "BBC Radio 5 live - Kermode and Mayo's Film Review, 08/01/2010". 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  6. ^ [1] Archived March 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "ГРОМЫКА - "Говорил я вам"/ GROMYKA - "As I Said Unto You"". 2015-11-05. Retrieved 2016-04-12. 
  8. ^ "Pulp - Styloroc (Nites of Suburbia)". 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2016-07-13. 
  9. ^ "Attack Magazine: My Studio Moiré". 
  10. ^ "Dubreq Stylophone S2". 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  11. ^ "Dubreq Stylophone Gen X-1". 2017-01-09. Retrieved 2017-01-09.