The Terpstra Keyboard Offers 280 Color-Changing Continuous Controllers

The Terpstra Keyboard is a new hexagonal keyboard controller design, that offers 280 color-changing continuous controllers.

The Terpstra, like other hexagonal keyboard designs, is not intended to replace traditional keyboards, but to introduce new ways to understand and play music, based on the underlying relationships of musical notes and the physics of sound:

  • When used with a traditional 12-tone even-tempered scale, the Terpstra arranges notes so that chords and scales are played the same in every key.
  • The Terpstra Keyboard has been built with Xen (Microtonality) in mind. It has enough keys to do practically any layout.


  • LAYOUT: matrix, hexagonal
  • KEYS: 280 (5×56) or 56, velocity sensitive, each at a different height; each key is a highly expressive continuous controller with deep travel
  • KEY MECHANICS: torsion springs with counterbalanced keycaps
  • SENSING MECHANISM: non-contact Hall-effect sensor
  • FUNCTION BUTTONS: 10, with activity LEDs
  • ADDITIONAL FEATURES: color changing RGB LED key-caps*, expansion panel
  • CASE: anodized aluminium
  • CONNECTIVITY: 1/4″ input jacks for foot switch and volume pedal, MIDI, USB, LAN, HDMI & WiFi

The Terpstra Keyboard is currently under development as an IndieGoGo project. Check out the details and let us know what you think of it!

16 thoughts on “The Terpstra Keyboard Offers 280 Color-Changing Continuous Controllers

  1. Dont fix what is not broken, thats what I like to say, hence why the Piano/keyboard has always stayed the same for thousands of years, it isn’t broken, why change it now?

    1. Hundreds of years, not thousands.
      But I agree, I’ve already invested 19 years into studying the piano and I don’t want to take the time to learn a whole new layout.

      1. I completely understand why someone might be reluctant to learn a new configuration for a keyboard. But doing so is incredibly good for musicians. Mastering your regular keyboard meant literally re-wiring your brain by releasing a flood of chemicals that made new connections between your neurons. Though you may have felt a lot of frustration, your brain was never healthier than at this time of your life. Repeating this process throughout your life will not only deepen your understanding of music, it will also keep your brain sharp and greatly lessen the chance of developing dementia as you get older.

    2. @Josh – I disagree entirely. Western music has been pretty much broken since Bach’s reduction of tonal expression. Bach’s equal tempered scale is a simple and ugly number hack to make music “fit” on the that awful piano roll.

  2. But the usual piano keyboard is broken. It forces the 12 tone equal tempered tuning, which is out of tune and also is difficult to master due to the non-symmetrical nature of the key arrangement.
    So, keyboards like the Terpstra are trying to solve big problems and are definitely welcome!

  3. There’s nothing new here… Hexagon-style controller do exist. For instance, the Roger Linn LinnStrument can have an Hexagon layer. There’s Hexagon Apps for the iPad, etc…

    Even a non-heaxgon style controller such Push (or any 8×8 monome style) would work. I just don’t see the point to spend $2,200 on something like that (and from the videos the keys don’t look to be very well made and sensitive at all). So, no thank you, I’ll pass..

  4. I don’t think this solves any actual problems. I don’t question the ultimate musical validity, because its never a bad idea to change your approach from time to time. You simply have to do the math of Expense X Time Required To Even Halfway Play It X How much merit it’ll add to what you do. That’s a very expensive novelty for a traditional player.

    I’d also factor in how much a listener could relate to the end result as having any distinct merit over the usual synths. I’d certainly enjoy playing a smaller version, because it definitely turns your idea of scaling and tuning on its head. The thing is, I already have a brain for that. If it inflames you creatively and you’re going to embrace it as if you’d bought a new cello, great. For over $2k, you kind of did so.
    If not, well, that $2k can buy a lot of pizzazz elsewhere, including enough good-will leeway to keep the wife from killing you for buying another of those damned crazy THINGS.

  5. I very interested in the idea, but not at the $2K price level. It would have to be at or below the US$1000 price point for me to really consider buying one. That will only ever happen if it gets popular enough to go into mass production.

    Velocity sensitivity (and pressure sensitivity) would be nice too.

    1. loquat, you’re right — we really wish we could do a 20 keyboard run for less than $1000/keyboard, but it’s just not enough *total* money to do a production run! One correction from your comments though; it *is* velocity sensitive, and when connected to an appropriately sampled and programmed synthesizer, it is extremely expressive. Unfortunately we haven’t got the video of that… only 2 keyboards in existence and not enough time and resources to capture all the video we wanted!

      Pressure sensitivity is possible but the feedback we got from keyboard players is it wasn’t a game-changer. Pressure sensitivity is a good way to fake velocity sensitivity if you don’t have that available. We are actually position-sensitive; each key can act as a continuous controller.

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