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.

Lookup Casio VL-Tone VL-1 Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

Related forum topics


Are you looking to buy or sell a Casio VL-Tone VL-1? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

57 Visitor comments
Jack Floyd
June 7, 2012 @ 5:03 pm
Used on The Fall's "The Man Whose Head Expanded".
May 16, 2012 @ 9:24 pm
For the love of god, dont waste your bloody money on this unless you know how to make it sound good on logic or ableton. (actually, my father bought it, but that's not important.) One thing I can say, however, is that the crappy sound is good for pissing people off. Love the "Music" button. Singing it in my head now. "duh duh duh duh duh duhh, duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duuuuhh.."
Brian Parker
April 28, 2012 @ 4:56 pm
I hooked mine up to a Roland rack pitch to voltage synth and scared the living daylights out of our audience. Just a gimmick but a lot of fun.
April 14, 2012 @ 11:55 pm
How is this rated don't bother? Using the synthesizer part can produce some effects to rival some of the monophonic synthesizers of the same time, and all for about 70 dollars!
March 8, 2012 @ 3:49 pm
I have a VL-5 and I have to say I like the cheesy simplicity of it. drain the sounds in reverb and it can sound beautiful. The gritty sounds it produces is fully useable if you process them the right way. Junk like this is not to be underestimated! All the features apart from the raw sounds are ofcourse worthless. it's a toy after all
Post Comment!
VSE Rating

Don’t bother

User Rating

Rated 4.06 (849 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

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.