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
November 10, 2010 @ 2:55 am
I was going through some of my old stuff and found one of these NEW IN BOX! I would like to claim it was un-used, but I absolutely had to test it out and relive the sounds! Continuing on further, I had no idea I had two of these! I found the one I used to play in high-school, which is a little more beat up, but it has character and *THIS* is full of sentimental value. I rigged it to my car stereo and hot damm!! The sounds. If I can ever get comcast to get me an easy to setup webpage I'll be posting all sorts of tricks and mods for these. Enough nostalgia, One of my projects is to put a micro-controller into this and control it via usb on a modern-day pc. Just something to test out new skills I acquired.
November 3, 2010 @ 8:16 am
i'm looking for a seller of this one... how much does it cost now? willing to pay for the shipping cost too..
October 25, 2010 @ 9:10 pm
plug this little guy into an effects possessor (guitar pedals,Korg mini KP,e.t.c.) your going to love it even more.
October 17, 2010 @ 4:12 am
monte cazazza used this this on stairway to hell and sex is no emergency
September 18, 2010 @ 7:57 pm
I bought had one of these when I was a child. I loved it untill a home burglary took it from me. I have a cz-100 ans a cz-230s and would love to have one another vl-1.

There was a Monster Magnet song with a VL-1 beat. I can remember the name though.
VSE Rating

Don’t bother

User Rating

Rated 4.06 (851 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 - 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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