8 Best Vintage Synth Television Commercials


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Back in the early days of synthesizers it still took some convincing for people to invest in these newfangled instruments. Luckily, there were plenty of advertising folks who believed that they knew just how to entice consumers with flashy commercials. Thanks to YouTube, many of these commercials are still available and make for fascinating viewing. Here are just some of the best vintage synth television commercials designed to make you covet one of your own.

KORG Poly-800

The KORG Poly-800 was designed for use by performers and not just in the studio as this Japanese commercial clearly demonstrates. In addition to highlighting some of the features and input options for this synthesizer, the commercial also features some impressive dance moves from a woman playing the KORG Poly-800. It is definitely a nice showcase of the synth, but rather debatable whether the sound heard in the commercial was actually created by the Poly-800!

Yamaha DX100

The DX100 is another synthesizer that is suitable for live performance if you are so inclined, but this vintage commercial sounds more like it is advertising a car and not a synth. The commercial goes all out with a leather clad performer wearing a racing helmet and deep voice over mentioning “wheels” and “power.” According to the clip “anything is possible” although the raindrops dripping down the visor of the performer after selecting the “Storm Wind” patch is maybe a bit much.

Casio Casiotone MT-520

The late 80s saw the release of the Casiotone MT-520, a synthesizer electronic keyboard that came complete with eight drum pads. According to this commercial, the MT-520 has an unfair advantage against a real set of drums as it has everything from a snare, rimshot, bass and symbols to bongos. It also has something that real drums can’t touch, it’s 8-note polophynic, with a recording memory and a dozen presets. Perhaps the most impressive display in this commercial, though, is the performer moonwalking while playing the MT-520, just to rub salt in the wounds of the defeated drummer.

Casio CZ-101

Mirror sunglasses? Check! Big hair? Check! This Casio CZ-101 commercial is about as 80s as you can get. In reality, the CZ-101 is basically a compact version of the CZ-1000 that includes a mini-keyboard, but according to this commercial, this digital synthesizer is actually is a “rocker launcher!” To emphasize this point, the commercial also shows the performer blasting off through space and flying over the moon before landing in front of a cheering crowd.

Moog Synthesizer

Although not actually a commercial for the Moog synthesizer, this 1973 beer advert does feature one predominately, along with the legendary Edd Kalehoff jamming away on it. In fact, the beer doesn’t even make an appearance  until the last few seconds of the commercial. Instead, we get to watch Edd bust out an impressive version of the Schaefer beer jingle using the Moog, before pouring himself a well-deserved drink. Edd also informs us that Shaefer is the one beer to have if you are having more than one, a slogan that would definitely cause a stir these days.

Roland TR-808

More futuristic looking sunglasses, this time with drum sticks that look and sound like lightsabers in this Roland TR-808 commercial. As far as commercials from this era goes, the Roland TR-808 commercial is actually quite subdued and relies on a voice-over extolling the virtue of the machine instead of crazy special effects and marketing hyperbole. While the 808 failed to make a big impression at the time, it has since gone on to become one of the most iconic drum machines ever and it sounds can be hard on numerous hits.

Casio Casiotone 701

With its metal upper body, wood effect livery and genuine plywood base, there is no mistaking the Casiotone 701 for anything else, but a product of the 80s. This 1982 commercial employs the musician Peter Allen, who is a familiar face in 80s television adverts, to introduce the 701, along with a rather interesting animal companion. A big fuss is made over the “miracle scanner” that the 701 can use to read barcoded music for playback as well as the flashing lights used as a melody guide. Of course, there is more to the 701 than just a its barcode scanning gimmick, such as classic analogue sound of the its drums, but you’ll never know that by watching this commercial.

Casio SK-1

Casio definitely didn’t have a shortage of commercials in the 80s, even for their less than stellar products like the SK-1. This polyphonic synthesizer is known for being a cheap toy product and this commercial did nothing to dispel that image. Featuring a guy with some dubious dance moves and a dog that appears completely uninterested in his owner’s shenanigans, this commercial tries its best to hype up the sampling capabilities of the SK-1. Unfortunately, what is not mentioned is that the memory of the SK-1 clears when it is turned off, so don’t get too attached to those poorly recorded samples.