Casio VL-Tone VL-1

Casio VL-1 Image

This seemingly worthless synth/calculator hybrid weighing in at under a pound has somehow found fame and fortune despite looking like a kid's toy. Its ultra cheesy sounds have been discovered and immortalized in the hit songs of such artists as Trio for "Da Da Da" and White Town. The Casio VL-1 or VL-Tone as it's also called has 29 little calculator-type button keys, five preset and one user memory patches, built-in rhythm machine (waltz, swing, rock, samba, etc.) and a 100-note sequencer. There is no chance at any external or MIDI control and there are no filters or effects. There is an LFO with vibrato and tremolo effects and an ADSR envelope.

The tinny monophonic blips and beeps that come out of the VL-1 provide a childishly funny accent to your music, if you're into that sort of thing. The VL-1 is analog, it's tiny, it has a built-in speaker and a useless built-in calculator. The synth itself is quite small, light-weight and portable when running on batteries. The keys are unreliable and cheap soft buttons with absolutely no natural feel, response, aftertouch or velocity. The VL-1 was succeeded by the VL-10 (same spec, smaller case) and VL-5 (4-note polyphonic version with a useless bar-code reader). Strangely, the simple cheesy sounds of the VL-Tone have been used by Apollo 440, Devo, the Talking Heads, the Cars, Dee-Lite, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Vince Clarke, Beastie Boys, The Human League, Trio, White Town, and Bill Nelson.

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57 Visitor comments
Walter Ego
August 16, 2012 @ 6:28 pm
VSE shouldn't be so down on this "toy". There's some real vintage magic in that tiny box. There aren't many home KBs with a programmable synth voice, certainly not other Casios. Look past the downer review and listen to other fans.

I'm about to snag my own. You can still get them in mint condition for well under $100 on eBay. Small; secret weapon. You can hear these being used on more experimental electro pop records, like those of Travelogue. Icons of electro pop use them to this day.
August 2, 2012 @ 10:32 am
I have a MINT Casio VL-1, original packaging, instructions, even the Styrofoam box is MINT. The unit itself has no scratches at all, not even a swirl mark on the LCD. This thing sounds great. The battery was out of the unit for 30 years. I am the original owner. How much should I sell this thing for?
June 24, 2012 @ 1:16 pm
Used by Trio in the famous song "Da da da" ! No fake :D
June 24, 2012 @ 7:15 am
I think this was used by MGMT to play the melody of "Kids".
June 18, 2012 @ 9:15 am
how can any body say dont bother its old yes its a classic yes its a lot of fun yes it has kicked out some classic pop songs and it still i to this day it can do at lot more than people thing espeically if yr tech minded and yes ive got one in mint condition amongst other keyboards tht are rare to get hold of and ive got most of them and still use them to this day with and without midi,yes im a old pop star but im not saying who.
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VSE Rating

Don’t bother

User Rating

Rated 4.06 (849 Votes)

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  • 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 - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - 1 VCO
  • LFO - Vibrato, Tremolo
  • Arpeg/Seq - Sequencer: 100 notes, 1 pattern. Rhythm Machine: March, Waltz, Swing, Rock, Samba, Beguine, Bossa Nova
  • Effects - None
  • Keyboard - 29 tiny keys (with 3-position octave switch)
  • Memory - 1 user patch, 5 preset sounds, 10 built-in rhythm patterns
  • Control - None
  • Date Produced - 1979 - 1984

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