* please note: all dates herein are approximate, though are believed to be fairly accurate. *
In 1968 the first Stylophones were launched (Thanks to a broken toy piano, which will be explained later). This battery powered hand held analogue synth with its unique method of playing, by running a stylus up and down a plated circuit board, took the world by storm.
Between 1968 and 1985 there have been 2 revisions to the original release. Revision 1 Stylophones were produced from 1968‐1970, Revision 2 were produced from 1970-1975 and Revision 3 produced from 1975-1985.
There were also bass and treble Stylophones. The 'standard' Stylophone is black and white in colour with a silver grille. Treble stylophones started out as all white with a black grille, then became all white with a silver grille for rev 3. Bass stylophones are a bronze/light-brown colour and have gained the nickname 'gold stylophone' due to this. The bass stylophones never really worked very well due to the way the oscillator produced the notes (and probably not helped by the size of the speaker!). In comparison, not many bass stylophones were sold and they are now quite rare indeed.
Around 1972 (then again in 1974 it seems... if any of you have any info on this, please contact me) they released the 'Piano Mate', a quite weird poly-synth that didn't have a keyboard. It has 2 attachments, treble and bass keyblocks (or whatever they are officially called) that sit atop a standard piano and the synth sound is mixed with the standard piano sound. These did not catch on and not many were made AFAIK. They are quite rare, but do come up for sale now and again. (Video on my youtube channel: Click Here!)
Around 1975, the 'New Sound' Stylophone was introduced. Its name coming from it now having a square wave oscillator, which gave a very different tone to the original ones. The new sound had a volume control, a vital addition that was for some reason omitted on the originals.
The New Sound had a wood effect grille, which was completely different than the other British Stylophones, yet resembled the early American licensed stylophones which were made in Chicago, and also had a wood effect grille.
Around 1977 the Stylophone 350s was produced. The 350s takes some of its design ideas from the Piano Mate, and infact, the circuit board in the Piano Mate is numbered 3506 (3506 - 350six - 350s?). I feel they were trying to resurrect the failed Piano Mate in a new form, but unfortunately the 350s didn't take off either. It is a big, somewhat ugly synth that is quite difficult to actually play properly with its dual stylus's.
The 350s had a very similar wood effect grille to the New Sound, only about 6 times bigger of course!
Although there were said to be only about 3000 350s units produced, there were several board revisions: The original early ones had the number 6510 on the board, then there was 6510A and 6510B. Recently I have found out about another revision of the board, the 6510C. It's possible the 6510C may have been an American only release, as one I saw had an American addressed guarentee card with it.
350s units with the 6510C board revision also seem to have a 3.5mm 'battery eliminator' socket fitted. I have only ever seen pictures of 2 units with the 'battery eliminator' socket installed, so if any of you have more information on this, please contact me.
Around 1985 Dubreq sadly had to close their doors and no more Stylophones were made. I can't help wondering what would of happened if the Piano Mate would of had a proper keyboard instead of having to be used with a Piano... It would certainly of made it more portable, since a piano is too big and heavy to easily carry from gig to gig.
So what about the Toy Piano? In 1967, Brian Jarvis, co-founder of Dubreq Studios was asked to repair a toy piano for his neice. When fixing it, he discovered it was a plinky-plonky pile of rubbish, he thought (and I'm paraphrasing here) 'I'm sure I could make something better than that!'
So, he got with his mate, Dubreq Studios co-founder Burt Coleman and they designed the prototype Stylophone.
Between 1968 and 1985 over 4 million Stylophones were sold all around the world!
Every Stylophone fan needs to thank Brian's neice for breaking her toy piano, because without that, we would not have had the wonderful little music maker we all know as the Stylophone. -Thanks Neice!
more coming soon...