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
parallax
April 25, 2011 @ 9:58 pm
This little guy actually sounds pretty cool with some reverb on it!
The Ghoul
April 11, 2011 @ 8:48 am
Just got one of these from ebay.. mint condition in the box with everything...

The programmable section is quite good in an uber lo-fi way once you get your head around it..

My industrial metal act just got a touch of retro cool!!
Pete
February 9, 2011 @ 4:29 pm
i have an emulator for one of these that i use in fruity loops. sounds great combined with a minimoog background =]
Carlos Ide
February 1, 2011 @ 11:47 am
In 1982, during the A Broken Frame Tour, Martin L. Gore replaced his Yamaha CS-5 for a small keyboard, which he called Fairlite. Does anyone know if this little synth is a Casio VL-1 or another model?
nwns
November 28, 2010 @ 9:50 am
That sound is ace, I purchased from eBay (of course) for £20 in its original case.

beep - beep - boo

Wonderful
 
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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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