Stylophone synthesizer at Restoration Hardware

Invented in 1967, the Dübreq Stylophone is a small synthesizer played by touching a built-in stylus to the metal keyboard. It was famously used on David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and Kraftwerk's "Pocket Calculator." I just spotted it in Restoration Hardware's catalog for $29. I was slightly surprised to see it there, but not too much as Restoration usually has terrific gadgets and toys for sale along with their classic (and costly) American home furnishings. For more Stylophone fun, check out the below video of Brett Domino performing a "1980s Hits Medley" on the device. (UPDATE: They're only $20 at ThinkGeek!)


  1. Oh my gosh I love how awkward the fellow in that video is – that’s so endearing!

    Kinda SX-150ish, but with a very approachable price tag…

  2. Ah, yes, I remember Rolf Harris using and pushing these in the 70s!

    He still gets a big mention on

  3. I can see no rhyme nor reason for the songs chosen in that medley. Despite this, that is a pretty cool instrument.

  4. OMG! I have one of these I got new back in the late sixties. I saw it advertised on Canadian TV and crossed the border into Canada to buy it.

    I was ripped off bu US customs when I returned. They made me pay duty on it. I tried to explain, “But, but you can’t buy these in the US!” I had to pay anyway.

    The stylophone still works fine.

  5. I picked one up at Urban Outfitters and a friend harshed me out for buying the remake and not the analog original. My friend is a doofus but he sort of has a good point. Search out an analog model for the real sound heard in those classic songs.

    1. As far as I have been able to tell, the remake is still analog. The original used discrete components, but the remake only uses a 555 timer chip – an IC, sure, but still analog all the way.

      If someone *has* an original, it would be nice to post some raw waveforms, so that we can compare. As popular as the original was, I’ve typically don’t see them on ebay that often.

      As for “only $20″ at Thinkgeek – they have been out of stock for more than a month. They were supposed to be back in on Nov 17th – maybe they were – but they were then almost immediately marked as out of stock again.

      1. Yes, they are out of stock, which makes me sad. I feel like my earlier post only satisfies half the craving. I got mine from TG when they first began carrying them, and the whole family got a kick out of noodling around on it. You could always build your own:
        or buy an original:
        or even go crazy and spend $55 on the SX-150:


    This is video of a book store concert of They Might Be Giants I took a couple years ago.
    At the 5:55 mark John L. pulls out a Stylophone and they play Particle Man.

    I apologize for the shaky cam, but I was holding my camera straight up and it was hard to keep it steady.

  7. Yo nerds: The Raconteurs (Jack White et al) have been using and making these cheapass toys cool for at least a couple years now. They used to even sell their own Raconteur version of the thing.


  8. I wanna point out that the last song is ‘Without You’ and was released in 1970 by Badfinger. It’s been covered to death, but most notably over-sung by Mariah Carey. The original is my fav.

    I’ve got a Stylophone, and have been using it in a live cover of ‘Space Oddity’ in my band, The Schmoejoes. I’m afraid I have no vid or audio to show off, but it’s a crowd favorite. Everyone wants to know ‘what the hell is that thing’…

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