Back in the early 1980s, Korg unveiled their KR-100 keytar to set keyboardists free from their static rigs, so that they could frolic around on stage like guitarists. It meant that musicians could finally strike the same poses as guitar players without having to trade in their synthesizer for a real guitar. The original RK-100 was first released in 1984, but three decades later, Korg decided to resurrect the legend in the form of the RK-100S.
With the RK-100S, Korg has stuck to the essence of the original hardware but obviously opted for a more sleek design. The original RK-100 wasn't exactly compact, despite lofty claims by Korg, so the new lightweight design is much easier to wield. The fact that the main body is made from wood makes it a little heavier than the competition, but it also feels a lot sturdier compared to other all-plastic keytars.
It features a 37 note slim-key keyboard that has velocity-sensitive keys, but unfortunately no aftertouch. The RK-100S also has two ribbon controllers that can be found on the neck and below the keyboard. The right side of the keyboard is dedicated to eight illuminated buttons that can be used to access your favorite patches, while an up-down lever can be used in conjunction with the LED display to change programs. More illuminated buttons can be found on the left side of the keyboard, while the neck features buttons for shifting octaves as well as buttons to assign pitch or filter control to the long ribbon. Finally, the audio output and volume dial can be found on the front panel while the connections are located on the right side.
Whereas the original RK100 required an external sound module, the RK100S has 17 high-quality master FX as well as 200 user-writeable sounds. It also comes with an editor for PC or MAC that can be used for any deep editing. In terms of audio, the RK100s will sound familiar to MicroKorg XL owners as it uses the same sound engine. The upside of this is that you can easily share patches between the two.
Overall, the RK100s is pretty much a modified MicroKorg XL that has been converted into a keytar, but the result is an instrument that looks and sounds great. It's not cheap and you'll need to use the software editor to get the most out of all its parameters, but it does a lot of things right for a keytar.