Meet The "Tubon", A Weird Early Keytar Instrument From The 1960s

Meet The “Tubon”, A Weird Early Keytar Instrument From The 1960s

This bizarre instrument was owned by Paul McCartney and Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk.

You’d think there would come a day when we would run out of weird electronic instruments to show you. But almost every other week another downright bizarre musical invention surfaces—from fiddle-bowed didgeridoos to harmonica-blown synthesizers—to leave us scratching our heads.

The newest instrument to upend us is the Joh Mustad “Tubon”, a battery-powered, comically large tubular keytar designed in 1966 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Looking more like a oversized inflatable microphone, the Tubon preceded the keytar boom by nearly a decade. Primarily designed as a bass instrument, it was monophonic and boasted six preset sounds: tuba, contrabass, electric bass, saxophone, bass and woodwind.

While the instrument was primarily used by folk bands from Sweden (see above for a “good” example of that), the Tubon did find its way into the hands of some pretty prominent musicians: namely, The Beatles’ Paul McCartney and Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hütter. Apparently, the original score for “Strawberry Fields Forever” includes a Tubon intro which was ultimately replaced by a Chamberlin on the final recording. A stroke of good fortune or an opportunity missed? Click the videos above and below to decide for yourself.