One of the most prescient, forward-looking songs ever is the tune that initially broke David Bowie – “Space Oddity.” Anyone who’s tried to copy the synth work on the song has been kept up all night searching for that sound, and probably never found it. That’s because it was generated by a small inexpensive unit called the Stylophone, which was quite the rage when first introduced in Britain in 1968, although it never caught on in the States. Still a pretty cool sound though, and one that you can finally have now that the original manufacturer, Dubreq, has released the new Bowie Stylophone.
Yes, It’s Analog
This is truly a pocket synthesizer in that it fits in your hand and looks like an old plastic transistor radio. It’s unusual in that it has a 20 key metal keyboard that’s played with a connected stylus (hence the name), a built-in speaker, a headphone jack, volume control, tuning control (on the back), and runs on 3 AA batteries. And you can vary the analog sound a bit with 3 octave modes and a vibrato switch.
Now the reason why it’s called the Bowie Stylophone is that Bowie loved the thing and used it often both in recordings and on stage. He wasn’t the only one though. The original Stylophone was also used by Kraftwerk, Blondie and the White Stripes as well.
With the initial success of the original Stylophone (there were more than 4 million sold), Dubreq introduced other more “professional” models that never took off and the company suspended sales of all products in 1975. It’s back now with more products, most of which have more control over the oscillator than the Bowie model. That said, the original was good enough for David and it will probably be plenty for most situations that need that sound.
The best part is it only costs $39.99. At that price you can buy one just to have hanging around in case the need for it ever arises. After all, it’s part of pop history.
Find out more here, or watch the videos below for more details.