A while ago (gee, al lot of my post begin with these words 🙂 ) I bought 4 old Casio toy keyboards. My very first keyboard was a Casio SA-1 (which I still have) and some models are still popular today.
The keyboards I bought where:
- Casio SA-1
- Casio VL-Tone
- Casio SK-1
- Casio PT-100
They were all in disgusting / broken / non working order but mostly all of the above.
Leaky batteries, broken keys, stickers. It was a mess. But, they were cheap, one or two are still kinda popular so after fiddling with them maybe I can make a little money so why not.
I still have mine from I think 30 years ago (let me look that up… yes came out in 1989 😎 )
- 32 mini keys
- built-in speaker
- polyphony 2 notes
- 100 preset sounds
- 29 preset rhythms
- 13 preset ‘super accompaniments’
- rhythms through keyboard keys
- demo song by Wham: ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’
- jacks for AC adapter & headphones
This one is dirty, has leaking batteries inside and has horrible stickers on all the keys.
So let’s take it apart 🙂
First I scraped all the stickers of the keys. This took more than 5 minutes and was quite agonizing. Then I opened it up and cleaned the battery terminals so all the green leaky battery goo mess was cleaned up. While I was in there I removed all the dust from the mainboard and put everything back together. I put some fresh AA batteries in it and I worked again 🙂 ! For a few minutes.. that it started to behave erratically. Weird. Switched it off and on and it works again for a while. Opened it up again and found a bulging capacitor…
The desoldered capacitor is the old one and the top was domed. Replaced it with a new one and put it back together. Now it keeps working fine. Great!
Here are some pictures after all the work:
First one saved. Value? Maybe a happy meal. Or two.
Casio VL-Tone (VL-1)
For some reason this one is very popular for a freaking toy keyboard. People are asking € 100 for these things. Why?
Look up the Wikipedia page and find out it is used by quite a few famous artists in one of their songs (Lady Gaga’s ‘Government Hooker’ from the album ‘Born this way’ for example…)
- It’s from 1981!
- It’s also a calculator!
- It’s monophonic
- It has a sequencer apparently..
- It has ADSR! ADSR! (attack, decay, sustain and release editing options)
- It has like 8 different sounds a few styles and 3 drum sounds. Marvelous.
I removed the leaky batteries and opened it up. Cleaned everything (especially the battery terminals) and put it back together. Put some new batteries in it and it works fine again 🙂 I’ve played with it for an hour trying to figure out why everyone wants one of these but I’m sorry I don’t have an answer for you. Well oké, it’s probably because a couple of famous people used it in one of their songs and who wouldn’t want to get their hands on a keyboard used by ‘The Human League’, ‘Brighter Death Now’, ‘Monto Cazazza’, ‘Richard Barone’ and well.. Lady Gaga.
If you have this on a desk in front of you it’s an awful, dreadful, horrible calculator toy keyboard. The only good thing is that people will pay you a hundred bucks for it (to come to the same conclusion 5 minutes after getting it in the mail)
No, just kidding, this vintage killer keyboard is a must have for every synthesizer collector.
This one is popular for it’s sampling capabilities. You have like 1.4 seconds of sampling time so if you press the sampling button and say your name (or burp in the mic) you can play back that sample in 32 different pitches on the keyboard. Hilarious.
This is another example of a horrible toy p.o.s. that was used by a couple of famous people and now everybody wants one.
- Year: 1986
- polyphony: 4
- Sampling: 1.4 seconds at 9.38 Khz 8 bit.
- 11 built in drum patterns
- 13 enveloppe settings to change recorded sample
Fatboy Slim and a few others used this so now it’s suddenly popular 🙂
Mine had a few broken black keys and by the way this is designed I was surprised they weren’t all broken.
All the black keys are attached to the same strip and the part that connects them is extremely thin. I superglued the key(s) back to the strip and they work fine again.
It cleaned up oké and I played with it for a while. If you use this lo-fi thing as a gimmick in a song (made with real instruments) it can be fun but standalone it’s a toy.
The last one of the bunch. This one is not very popular and it’s really really basic.
- 8 rhythms
- 8 sounds
- “Casio chord” chord function
- that’s about it.
What’s more to write about it… 🙂 toy, sounds horrible. Why would you want this.
Well there might be one reason: circuit bending. Some people just add a bunch of buttons and knobs to these old keyboards and find ways the change the sound which sometimes can lead to interesting results.
See the following link:
3 thoughts on “Casio toy keyboards”
Kudos for this resourceful site/blog. More grease to your elbows.
Since you’ve tackled at least one Casio mini-keyboard project, how feasible do you think it might be for you to take on a Casio DH-series (Digital Horn DH-100/200/500/800) repair effort, and have you ever tried to?
No I usually stick to Roland’s so I only have experience with the Casio’s from this blog article. I’ve looked them up and they look cool 🙂 there is at least one YouTube video of someone taking one of these apart. I suggest you watch it and determine if you want to do that.. but usually, with a couple screwdrivers and a bit of patience most things can be repaired. Good luck 🙂
I used to have a Casio SK-1 I picked up used for about 20 bucks back in 1996. It was a toy that somehow found relevance in a few production projects and at least once on stage in a live show. By the time I was done with it about 5 years later it was irreparably (to me) broken, and I wound up giving it away. But I still remember all the many moments when it (especially the rudimentary sampler) was just the right thing at the right time for very unlikely inspiration. These things do often have their place, as improbable as it may seem. Good to know you too seem to recognize their minor value. Kudos!