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
mogul
April 19, 2009 @ 8:12 am
i have one of these, love it. i don't think it looks like a toy at all, it's fantastic. i wish casio made keyboards like this these days. it is possible to get midi control of the vl-1 by installing a kit for example the 'highly liquid' midi retrofit.
MartinL
April 2, 2009 @ 3:15 am
I play vl - tone casio VL1 1983/84
But when a pickpocket and VL1 Ooooops !
I am very sad...
I want use this VL1 for digital design sound:
like this : 000100111000
Sorry for my bad english ! Bye !...Sad life!...
Nafs Kushi
March 9, 2009 @ 6:45 am
There's a clear VL-1 beat in Fergie single "Clumsy" also
bresk
February 12, 2009 @ 10:43 am
...and if you have a kaoss pad the fun reach another level ;)
Nafs Kushi
February 4, 2009 @ 5:23 am
It's been the first "keyboard" I ever played when I was 7, and I think that's why I love electronic music. I'd recognize its sound everywhere, it's so typical you can't go wrong!
The one I played when I was a child was my sister's one. I bought one ALL MINE a few days ago, and I'm gonna use it in studio and on stage. I LOVE IT!
 
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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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