Casio SK-1

Casio SK-1 Image

Well, people call it the poor man's sampler. It is the cheapest sampler in the world. Followed by the SK-5, the second cheapest in the world. It's a polyphonic synthesizer (just four voices) with very cheap sounds and it can store one sample in its memory. The sampling is 8-bit PCM, 9.38kHz, giving about 1.4 seconds. It's so gritty... Samples can only be recorded through the awful mini-mic built-in to the upper-right corner or a 3.5mm line-input plug on the backside of the synth. Alas, its memory clears when turned off.

Obviously it's designed as a cheap toy for consumers. This is the sort of sampler-toy you end up belching into with your friends and play burp-songs for a laugh! There are 11 built-in accompaniment-style drum patterns (disco, rock, samba, etc.) which are all embarrassingly fun and totally unusable. The keyboard uses mini plastic keys. It lacks MIDI, lacks effects, edit-ability, memory, and filtering. However there are 13 envelope shapes that can affect your sample or synth sounds somewhat. There is also portamento, vibrato, and chord accompaniment with the chord selector system.

Casio SK-1 Image

Rare pink model

If you gotta make some lo-fi cheese samples then you might want to try the SK-1, after all it is very cheap! Of course, as cheap as they come and with the built-in sampling, the SK-1 is a great candidate for circuit-bending! It is used by Fatboy Slim, Beck, Autechre, Portishead, Bloodhound Gang, Nine Inch Nails, Incubus and Blur.

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43 Visitor comments
January 25, 2009 @ 9:45 am
I had one of these back in the early 90`s,think i paid a tenner? A lot of drunken evenings were livened up with this baby,belching,farting and swearing into it then playing back the demo....what fun!
December 22, 2008 @ 4:19 am
One of the things we learned as kids (this was our first synth ever) was the loop function that is built in: it searches for the last part of the sample and loops from there. We then sampled everything from claps to snapping the thumbs to ticking the microphone with a pencil. It was all good. And then when you did the auto-loop the loop was so short it actually created new unique waveforms. Fun for the whole family!
December 14, 2008 @ 5:53 pm
I had one of these as a kid. I burped into it and said bad words and all. then let it play the song that was built into it. I was a bad child but never learned how to play it
December 7, 2008 @ 9:36 pm
My roomates ended up plugging it w/ a power supply w/ rev polarity ;( and blowing something! so its on the mod-table now (in peices) . I was so distraught that I bought a Yamaha VSS-30 which is noticably missing from this explorer altogether. The VSS-30 is as limited as the SK1 but with in totally different features and lack there of the envelopes on it rock and it has some of the same decals on it as the DX-7? whoooa dude and its all mine for $3.00 USD
c g gross
December 5, 2008 @ 3:48 pm
Fungatoo: You're right! This is one of the devices of choice in the circuit-bending community (along with the Speak-And-Spell). I think one of the first people to mod an SK-1 was Don Slepian back in the '80s; he added an arpeggiator if I recall correctly. It can also be modified as a MIDI keyboard. I decided to leave mine alone, because I figured I'd probably break it...

BTW, the SK-1 also has an additive synthesis mode that allows you to start with a base tone and add harmonics...
VSE Rating

Don’t bother

User Rating

Rated 3.84 (691 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 4 voices
  • Oscillators - additive synth section: 5 PCM tones: piano, brass ensemble, trumpet, synth drums, human voice; 3 synth tones: flute, pipe organ, jazz organ
  • Sampler - Holds 1 Sample: 8-bit PCM, 9.38kHz, approx. 1.4 seconds, loop/ envelope select functions
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Filter - None
  • VCA - None; 13 Envelope shapes
  • Drums - 11 drum patterns: disco, rock, pops, march, samba, bossa nova, rhumba, 4 beat, swing, slow rock, waltz
  • Sequencer - 100 steps of polyphonic programming or 99 step chord sequence with and 198 steps each of two solo voices.
  • Keyboard - 32 mini-keys
  • Memory - Volatile, lost when powered off
  • Control - None
  • Date Produced - 1985
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images by Vintage Synth Explorer and

    Additional information provided by Chris and Jeph.

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