# How To Program A Vintage Casio VL-1 VL-Tone Synthesizer

Optigan guru Pea Hicks shared this video tutorial for programming the Casio VL-1 VL-Tone synthesizer:

The VL-1 is a strange hybrid calculator/synthesizer. It was the first instrument in Casio’s VL-Tone line. It’s a very limited device, but has been used iconically on tracks like Trio’s Da Da Da:

Here’s what Hicks has to say about the video:

Quick improvised tutorial on how to program sounds in “ADSR” mode on the Casio VL-Tone.

I forgot to mention that the sound selector has to be set to “ADSR” for this to work. Also, once you’ve programmed your sound in, it will be held in memory until you change it, even if you power the unit off.

## 4 thoughts on “How To Program A Vintage Casio VL-1 VL-Tone Synthesizer”

1. Hi

Nice find. Hey a suggestion on maybe how you can get the piano wave. Since you’re entering this (secretly) as a number in CALC mode, it won’t accept a zero. BUT, what if you place a decimal point in first, such that the zero list left of the decimal and the other 7 digital as the fractional part (or possible, decimal, then 0 and the next )

Just a thought !!

2. Ben

It’s a calculator !!! no need to erase all by powering it of/on. Just add the value you want to change in the memory so for instance to change the first parameter: 30.099.000 + 10.000.000 gives 40.099.000 then MR to store.

3. Kirudub

This was my first “keyboard” as a little kid when it came out. And “Da Da Da” was one of the first songs I learned to play, natch.

4. The secret to accessing the piano wave form is to only input 7 numbers. The VL-1 will then automatically assume a “0” as the first number, and use the following 7 numbers you input the rest of the programmed sound. The same applies if you want to use a fast attack for the piano sound, which would require you to enter “00” as the first two numbers. This isn’t possible, at least in terms of displaying them because the VL-1 won’t display zeros as the first digit. Thus to have a piano sound with a fast attack, you would simply omit entering the first two digits and only enter the last 6 digits of the parameters.

E.G. to have a piano sound with a fast attack would require “01453200” to be entered. You would skip the first zero and enter “1453200, and the VL-1 would assume a “0” as the first digit. If you wanted a piano sound with the fastest possible attack, you would need to enter “00453200”. As with the example above, you would skip entering the first TWO zeros’s, and enter “453200”. Technically the VL-1’s synth could be programmed with just one number i.e. “1”, and the VL-1 would then assume seven zeros in front of it “00000001”. That probably wouldn’t make much of a sound as all you would have programmed is the tremolo rate! However, you get the gist of how to enter zeros to program the VL-1’s synth.