Music

9-string Kelstone guitar plays like a piano

9-string Kelstone guitar plays...
The Kelstone 9-string instrument can be played using both hands, like a piano
The Kelstone 9-string instrument can be played using both hands, like a piano
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The Kelstone 9-string instrument can be played using both hands, like a piano
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The Kelstone 9-string instrument can be played using both hands, like a piano
Kelstone weighs 18.29 pounds, is 42.5-inches long and has adjustable screws at the nut
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Kelstone weighs 18.29 pounds, is 42.5-inches long and has adjustable screws at the nut
Kelstone comes with a universal adapter to fit just about any keyboard stand
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Kelstone comes with a universal adapter to fit just about any keyboard stand
Jan Van Kelst at a Kelstone workshop in Belgium recently
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Jan Van Kelst at a Kelstone workshop in Belgium recently
Kelstone requires a lot less scale and position study than a guitar or piano
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Kelstone requires a lot less scale and position study than a guitar or piano
Not having to curl your fist around the neck also offers players the kind of note span used to great effect by the likes of Jeff Healey
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Not having to curl your fist around the neck also offers players the kind of note span used to great effect by the likes of Jeff Healey
Two instruments can be used together like the double keyboard of a Hammond B3
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Two instruments can be used together like the double keyboard of a Hammond B3
Two Kelstones are better than one
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Two Kelstones are better than one
Players can strum, pick, hammer-on and pull-off, slide, bend, use both hands like a piano player - or try inventive combinations
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Players can strum, pick, hammer-on and pull-off, slide, bend, use both hands like a piano player - or try inventive combinations
Kelstone is said to offer very long natural sustain possibilities, and is available in three string setups - light, medium and heavy
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Kelstone is said to offer very long natural sustain possibilities, and is available in three string setups - light, medium and heavy
The Kelstone 9-string instrument can be played using both hands, like a piano
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The Kelstone 9-string instrument can be played using both hands, like a piano
A funky polyethylene tube case is available
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A funky polyethylene tube case is available
Kelstone offers players the kind of note span used to great effect by the likes of Jeff Healey
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Kelstone offers players the kind of note span used to great effect by the likes of Jeff Healey
The Kelstone 9-string instrument with its dynamic muter pedal and tube carry case
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The Kelstone 9-string instrument with its dynamic muter pedal and tube carry case
Guaranteed to turn heads, the Kelstone 9-string instrument
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Guaranteed to turn heads, the Kelstone 9-string instrument
Although Kelstone can be used for metal on metal slide, its relatively low action opens up many more opportunities over its 26 frets
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Although Kelstone can be used for metal on metal slide, its relatively low action opens up many more opportunities over its 26 frets
A funky polyethylene tube case is available
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A funky polyethylene tube case is available
The volume and tone controls, and a close up of the dynamic mute feature
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The volume and tone controls, and a close up of the dynamic mute feature
An included pedal-based dynamic mute feature acts as a virtual palm to help keep wayward strings in check
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An included pedal-based dynamic mute feature acts as a virtual palm to help keep wayward strings in check
The standard Kelstone comes with one single coil, passive pickup but other options are available
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The standard Kelstone comes with one single coil, passive pickup but other options are available
View gallery - 20 images

It has the look of a lap steel and can certainly be used for playing slide guitar compositions, but the relatively low action on the Kelstone 9-string guitar opens up many more opportunities over its 26 frets. Developed by Belgium's Jan Van Kelst, players can strum, pick, hammer-on and pull-off, slide, bend, use both hands like a piano player - or combinations of all such techniques. Players can explore Stanley Jordan-like combined rhythm and lead fretboard tapping, and also throw in some bass to the melody like Dominic Frasca or move metal over metal for Robert Randolph-inspired wizardry.

Essentially, the Kelstone offers the range of a bass, baritone and standard guitar in one instrument - spanning just over five octaves and tuned in fourths (B, E, A, D, G, C, F, Bb, Eb). Van Kelst says that as such: "if you know, for instance, the fingering of a major chord, you can use this form anywhere on the arm, regardless of the position or note you start with."

Not having to curl your fist around the neck also offers players the kind of note span used to great effect by the likes of Jeff Healey
Not having to curl your fist around the neck also offers players the kind of note span used to great effect by the likes of Jeff Healey

The player's hands are positioned over the top of the strings, running from the bass to treble, and looking down on the fingerboard. Being fixed on a stand - tilted slightly towards the audience - frees up both hands to run up and down the fingerboard with relative ease and an included pedal-based dynamic mute feature acts as a virtual palm to help keep wayward strings in check. Not having to curl your fist around the neck also offers players the kind of note span used to great effect by the likes of Jeff Healey and it's said that learning to play the Kelstone requires a lot less scale and position study than a guitar or piano.

The Kelstone features a single coil, passive pickup, it's design is said to offer very long natural sustain possibilities, and it's available in three string setups - light, medium and heavy, with the latter being the standard set supplied. It weighs 8.3kg (18.29 pounds), is 108cm long (42.5-inches) and has adjustable screws at the nut. The saddle height and intonation can also be tweaked and two instruments can be used together like the double keyboard of a Hammond B3.

Players can strum, pick, hammer-on and pull-off, slide, bend, use both hands like a piano player - or try inventive combinations
Players can strum, pick, hammer-on and pull-off, slide, bend, use both hands like a piano player - or try inventive combinations

A standard Kelstone is priced at EUR915 (US$1,245). The dynamic muter pedal costs EUR85 (US$115) and although the Kelstone comes with a universal adapter to fit just about any keyboard stand, you can also buy metal stands from the company at EUR35 (US$47) each. Players can also choose to carry the instrument in a funky polyethylene tube case for EUR60 (US$81), a reinforced gigbag for EUR90 (US$122) or a polyethylene hard case for EUR210 (US$285). International orders accepted but you'll need to contact the company for shipping information.

Update: We've had a few requests for a more instructional video, so here's Jan Van Kelst with some useful playing tips for the Kelstone:

View gallery - 20 images
6 comments
windykites
This is a variation on the Chapman Stick, as played expertly by Jim Lampi (check him out on You Tube)
Richardf
Id still like to see an all in one guitar.This may lead to a key board witch detaches from under neath the main guitar.
Keith Reeder
Naaah, it\'s not really like the Stick at all. More like Francis Dunnery\'s (ex It Bites) Tapboard:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgwztruky_Q
socalboomer
What a horrid video - stupid flames with some text overlaying??? Come on - I want to see it being played!!! That would have been good.
Sorry - just so very disappointed. It looks amazing awesome. . .
xlg7
a lot like the Bunker touch gutair
Terence LO
There are alternatives to linear string musical instrument. Metallic bars laid out in a spiral fashion can easily accommodate 37 keys for a circular plate that is about the size of a 12" pizza. An electronic pal,top spiral keyboard is as light as 0.5 kg for a retail price of USD 13. See www.spiralpiano.net.