Roli Seaboard GRAND
This next-gen take on the piano swaps out the usual ivory keys for a soft, three-dimensional surface, making it look a little like a keyboard that's donned bondage gear. Those pressure-sensitive keys let you to tweak pitch, timbre and volume – and even bend notes and add vibrato – as you play. You'd better be quick if you want to get your hands on one, though – only 88 are being made.
Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1
This bamboo and hardwood beauty looks like nothing else on Earth – quite intentionally. Rather than replicating any one instrument, it uses your iPhone as the heart of a MIDI controller that can be used as a guitar, violin, mandolin, lap steel or even a drum pad depending on how you want to hold it. Six virtual force-sensitive frets and strings and a strum section let you manipulate sounds, while it'll play nice with any CoreMIDI-enabled iOS app.
Teenage Engineering OP-1
It might look like a toy, but this entry on the 2012 Stuff Cool List is anything but. A synthesiser, sampler and controller, it crams in eight synthesiser engines, three sequencers, drums, effects, a motion sensor, a sampler, a four-track recorder and an FM radio, its music-making prowess belies its Fisher Price looks.
If you prefer your music with more of an retro gaming flavour, you could strap an Atari 2600 to a plank and add a joystick, EQ pedal and flange. That's what chiptune musician cTrix has done with the gAtari, creating an 8-bit instrument that's perfect for rocking out to a rendition of Pitfall II. Who needs keytars, eh?
Part disco ball, part musical instrument, this Stuff Gadget Awards 2012 Design of the Year runnner-up does double duty as an instrument and a MIDI controller, with 48 pressure-sensitive pads that can be used to play sequences, MIDI notes and sound samples. It also features responsive LED lighting, which makes it look a bit like Darth Vader's disco ball.