Thursday, January 12, 2012

The humble Casiotone.  How many of us, as kids of the late 70's or 80's, had these sitting around our bedrooms?  How many of us used them?  How many of us identify them as a "serious" instrument?

My second keyboard that I bought in the 3rd or 4th grade was a Casio MT-32.  I loved it.  (BTW, the photo is of an MT-68 and not a 32).  I loved making up songs using the auto Casio chord and rhythm, along with my first keyboard, a Univox piano, and an upright acoustic piano.  By the time I was in the 6th grade, I had ended up selling both of these keyboards in order to buy my first synthesizer, with some help from my parents and other money that I had saved.  It was a Roland Juno-60.  I would say that the upgrade was a good one and opened me to a world of synthesis, but gone was the autorhythm and chord accompaniment. 

I am currently obsessed with the autorhythm once again.  Yes, one could easily program similar patterns, basslines, chords, rhythms, and arpeggios with other equipment.  But to have it available in one small little plastic box is very convenient.  I am in the process of modifying (NOT circuit bending! - that will have to be another post) the Casios that I have bought over the recent years to accept an external clock and override the internal tempo control.  This is a tedious process without any schematics, but so far, I have managed to modify 3 of them.  I have also modified both my Boss Dr Rhythm 55 and 110 to allow the same external clocking.

The most difficult thing about this is I am finding that everything uses a different denomination as far as master clocks go.  Some want 12 PPQN (pulses per quarter note) where others want 64, 96 or 192 PPQN.  I will just have to make sure that I label these in some fashion so that I don't have to remember every box's clock division ratio - especially if I plan on modifying more machines in the future.  The substitution clock that I use is from a Garfield Mini Doc.  The Mini Doc has several outputs that make it convenient to extract any of these pulse denominations from the main DIN Sync connection.


  1. I just got a DR 110; can you give any more specifics about modifying it to accept external clocking? I like it a lot, but it's hard to integrate it...

    As a side comment, the P Bus input/output seems to be a useful little bonus. Have you been able to use that to some kind of advantage in music making?

  2. I just posted another entry in response to this here: