The Korg SV-1 73 key electric piano retails at just under $2000 and has an interesting design that is a break away from the LCD back-lit push buttons and sliders of most modern keyboards. The SV-1 attempts rather successfully to recreate the vintage feel of retro keyboards by a system of analogue style knobs and basic instrument selector buttons. The keyboard’s tone is driven by a valve reactor consisting of a 12AX7 vacuum tube which is housed rather stylishly on the top of the keyboard, making it look almost like a vintage tube amp from the 1960s. The clever use of turn-able pots rather than modern LCD screens makes changing between tones and instruments a very organic experience. However this stylish touch could be a drawback on a darkened stage as it would likely be very difficult to see which tones or instruments the keyboard was set on without the aid of a light source.
Despite this design issue the quality of the vintage instrument sounds are impeccable, with 36 in total spread out across six banks with six variations of each tone. The SV-1 also features some very usable and practical effects including equaliser, pre-effects, amp modelling, modulation effects, reverb and delay. The weight of the keyboard is a slight draw-back but is to be expected for a quality electronic piano. The feel of the keys and the SV-1’s playability is very good and would be relished even by experienced pianists. While the unique design might be a little more about retro-chic than actual gigging convenience it is still a clever departure from current keyboard design, leaving the musician who appreciates aesthetics feeling very pleased that they are seated in front of a usable instrument that looks like modern take on their favourite aspects of the analogue age rather than the cheesy LCD-lit control desk from a sci-fi film design that many other keyboards seem to persist with.