Let’s Get Bent

Yesterday at work, I edited a podcast segment that made mention of the new Privia PX 130 keyboard from Casio. It’s a new digital piano meant to feel more closely like the real instrument, and you can hook it up to your Mac or PC via USB. The Times reviewer seemed to dig it after trying the keyboard out at Sam Ash.

But then I tried to remember the Casio keyboard my brother and I played with when we were kids…I believe it was that plastic chunk of cheesy goodness known as the PT-80.


Oh my…now Mom and Dad bought this for us way before either one of us youngsters was any good at playing the piano. So, to get any actual “music” out of it, my brother would play the demo over and over and over again. Do you remember those chintzy drum patterns? If you don’t, the closest thing I could find is a demo from another mini-keyboard of the same era, the Casio PT1 (which I think we also owned):

Can you imagine listening to THAT for about an hour or two? (My brother and I eventually graduated to a Korg Poly 61, but we would just run the arpeggiator when we were too lazy to actually do our lessons. I guess my parents figured, as long as there was music coming out of the playroom, we must be practicing.)

Well I realized, with all the enthusiasm out there for circuit bending children’s toys, calculators and other vintage synths, surely somebody must have hacked this little retro Casio or its 80’s siblings. And a whole bunch of DIY sound mechanics have done just that. Below are a couple of my favorite souped up Casios:

The bass on that one is pretty insane – this next one gets sort of funky in its own laid-back way:

You can find more one-of-a-kind musical projects like these at Circuit Bent Instruments, where several are being sold on eBay. And if your own kids insist on playing with some noisy toy that makes a relentless racket around the house, maybe you can get back at them with this terrifying circuit-bent Furby with Atari joystick controller.


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