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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42 Visitor comments
July 13, 2012 @ 7:57 pm
I have fond memories of one of these. Messed with it so much that the flexible plastic that hinged the keys broke...

My SK-1 leaked just enough RF that I could get more (and quite interesting but unintentional) sounds by holding it against a radio, and tuning the radio and listening to the radio's speaker. The stupid rythm presets suddenly did something really cool.

In regards to sampling, I found an external mic helps a lot. Looping the sample was cool when blowing on a bottle. Other cool things to sample was tweaking the tab of a soda can or banging on glasses or pans with a spoon.
April 4, 2012 @ 3:49 pm
Great little sampler, had lots of use out of it when i was younger
managed to get some decent drum loops, sample time is a little low
but overall a decent sampler. Probably best not insert the adaptor lead
into the headphone socket though as demonstrated by my brother.
March 9, 2012 @ 3:46 am
My first synth and first sampler, rolled into one, bought new ages ago by my mom in some chain store. Somehow I never had as much fun with it as I would have imagined, and after buying it again a while back I quickly resold it. It IS a fun little machine fully deserving of its gleeful classic status, and the current appeal of smaller, smaller, smallest has revitalized it, again. It's the mutant cockroach of samplers, with its quirky little additive synth, usually missing battery cover and plinky-plonk Casio 'rhythms': it won't ever die, just linger in countless closets, forever. Bless it.
Erik Friend
February 26, 2012 @ 6:55 pm
A cool "toy" with surprising capabilities. It's got cheesy lo-fi presets (piano, horns, organ, vox, beats, etc), but that's not all. The built-in sampler allows creation of fresh sounds, including loops. The "synth" mode is an 8-harmonic additive drawbar organ. All sounds run though user-selectable ADSR envelopes. Enable the vibrato (subtle effect) to add depth. Portamento adds a super cool pitch gliding effect, which transforms the presets into electric spaciness. Complaint? The idle-off "feature" erases your sample after a period of inactivity. Still, a fun portable music maker!
Sam Wilkinson
January 21, 2012 @ 8:59 pm
Hi, I bought a Casio SK1 recently via Ebay to act as a cheap replacement for my Alesis Micron that was broken when my band played a house party in December.

Once I received the SK1 I found that when I released any of the keys upon playing them, the keyboard produces a loud buzzing sound. Does anyone know or have any idea what the problem could be? Any help would be sweet.
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  • 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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