The first time I saw my father keyboard hidden behind some boxes in the attic of our house I was surprised. That Casio keyboard was really cool in the 80s. I took that beauty out from the dust and I’ve decided to find a way to use it in my music production workflow. Some sounds are still very cool today! After some researches I found that there was a lot of people on music forums talking about Circuit Bending. I found an entire hidden world made of people that literally bent any electronic device and make it sound weird and glitchy. So i decided to give it a try and I’ve started from sketches and reading about electronic components that was suitable for my project. There’s a lot of manuals for everything out there, but the most incredible thing about circuit bending is that you can explore and change everything by yourself! This is awesome because it gives a second life to everything that have an electronic PCB board inside and make it “sing” in an unique way.
Casio SK-1 is basically 8bit based and all the sounds that you can make bending it are a kind of 8 bit based sounds that are tweaked connecting in unusual way the main board of the keyboard. Bending this machine is basically adding components like a potentiometer to control an additional oscillator that change the internal clock of the machine, slowing down sounds and drum patterns (yes! casio have some really 8bit based patterns).
The most difficult part is find the connection on the Mother Board and soldering it. the tracks are really thin and easy to break.
Before start wiring everything I always double checked if bending some point was reversible. Sometime when you make the volts pass through sections the they shouldn’t the keyboard can crash and block on the note you’re playing until you turn it off. Here some images of the wiring I’ve done internally. I’ve also added a Boss Ds1 Distortion pedal inside of the machine. I’ve found some diagrams on the web explaining how to bend it and so i did. I took the Distortion PCD out from its original stomp box and mounted it inside the wood panel. To understand if the distortion is On or Off I’ve set up leds into the Slimer’s eyes (the ghost). They’ll light up if the distortion is On.
After bending the circuit I’ve made the new case for storing all the new cables and buttons for the internal connection I’ve made. Here you can see the steps for the creation of the shell.
I’ve equipped the new keyboard with:
• one 3×6 RCA patch bay for tweaking the drum patterns
• one 4×6 RCA patch bay for tweaking the sounds
• one Boss Ds1 Guitar Distortion PCB (circuit bent to be more aggressive)
• one On/Off switch for Ds1 button
• one Ds1 cutoff potentiometer
• one Ds1 tone potentiometer
• one LTC1799 oscillator potentiometer for time warping
• one LTC1799 oscillator On/Off switch (if i want to use the internal keyboard clock)
• six On/On switch connected with my favourite bending points on the internal circuit
• PANIC! Button (Just in case the keyboard decides to stop working (it can happen when you start playing around with circuits)
Here you can listen at some sounds I’ve made. The last video you’ll find is the machine playing on the Track “Dusty Roads”. I’ve made that track using a lot of this Casio sounds.
In the next pictures the personalisation of the case. (Yes I love ghostbusters).
The thing that amde this project not too easy was the fact that I wanted to keep the keyboard separated from the wood panel because sometimes I love to use it with original sounds and without all those big features. To do this I’ve made all the connections via RCA and 25pins connectors. In this way you can connect the keyboard with the “Extended features” case or use it by itself as the original one.
I’ve set up the Control Panel with connections in the back (Audio In – Audio Out – Power)
I’ve used this synth and all the samples I’ve recorded from it on some of my track in the album “Blood, violence and other cute things” and you can listen to it on Spotify.
I’ve used some of it’s sample even on the new album “Ultrafuture”, you’ll find the full album on my Spotify channel like the other Album!
L’intero disco è acquistabile online in formato digitale su iTunes Store e sulle maggiori piattaforme digitali.
You can find more pictures or videos on Dead Tribe’s instagram