Casio DG-20

A relic of redundant music-technology from 1987. This "Digital Guitar" aimed to bring MIDI/Synthesis functionality to guitarists...

The story

My elderly neighbour knows I’m a musician, and recently, unexpectedly knocked on my door and said that he was having a clear-out and had a broken electric guitar that was mine if I wanted it (and could fix it). He went on to tell me that he dabbled in playing the guitar when he was younger, but due to the onset of arthritis he was no longer able to play.

He then presented me with a Casio DG-20!

Being a retro-synth nerd I was very shocked and explained that these are niche collectors-items, but he wasn’t interested in selling it and provided I could get it working and get some enjoyment out of playing it, he was happy to see it going to a new, loving home.

He said it brought him a lot of joy in the 1980s and he hopes it can be repaired and find a new lease of life with me. I was very touched and humbled that he would simply gift me such a unique instrument.

The fault was simple, a failed transistor in a part of the circuit designed to “auto-off” after inactivity. The failed transistor was causing the guitar to instantly “auto-off” upon power up. I bypassed the failed transistor and it sprung to life.

It’s a rather peculiar instrument, and also difficult to play. It’s actually not very guitar-like in a tactile sense, and so, for posterity and ease of use, I decided to sample its patches.

However, with my neighbour’s words ringing in my ear, I thought, it shouldn’t just be me that enjoys this instrument’s quirky sounds, but that everyone should have access to it. I.e. the most apt and appropriate thing to do would be to pay forward his generous gift of the Casio DG-20 to me, and upload sampler-instruments of all of its patches to The Piano Book community.

Therefore, my neighbour’s hope for this instrument finding a new lease of life with me, could actually result in this instrument finding a new lease of life with hundreds, possibly thousands of people around the world.

All 20 patches/tones have been sampled, along with the drum sounds and a couple of variants of one patch, resulting in 23 Sampler Instruments in total.

The instruments are set to be velocity sensitive, with subtle velocity-related filtering (i.e. softly played notes have a slightly softer tone – apart from the “Organ” patches, which are just on/off as per the characteristics of an organ).

Most instruments are pluck-like in character, but some have designated loop points and are continuous (such as the aforementioned organ patches). I’ve included a .csv file in the .zip which lists all the loop points, should anyone wish to make a Kontakt version of the instrument.

There are a few more details about the specifics of various instruments in README.txt file.

Reviews for Casio DG-20

  • Sound
  • Character
  • Playability
  • Inspiration
  • GUI

Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!

  • Oldschool cool

    If you are into oldschool sounds, then you gotta check this out. This bundle gives you access to a huge library of sounds, coming out from that weird looking guitar-like thing. From synthy leads to a weirdly unique drumkit, you can really find tons of different sounds in here.

    Some of the instruments that have a cleaner sound signature might have some very light white noise, but it will definitely won't ruin your day by any means. It's worth checking out for sure.

    Alex Raptakis26 December 2021
  • 80's Time machine

    No fewer than 21 sounds from a piece of "classic" eighties hardware. I mean, I use the term "classic" loosely... and yet this sort sums what PianoBook is all about and so I love it. I mean, the effort involved in bringing this to the community and a great back story to boot. Bravo. The sound that actually made me smile the most was the Drum Kit - Casio RZ1 anyone? Not sure how often this will find it's way into my compositions - but if you need 80's retro sounds a la Casio this is by far the easiest way to get them. Great job.

    Mark Lord27 December 2021
  • Reminiscent of a period but not for me

    In only 23 so i wasn't around making music when these kinds of sounds were popular. I understand that these kinds of sounds create nostalgia for certain people and i totally respect that. But since thats not me I'm just going off of how i feel about the sounds. I dont think anybody, even people who love these sounds will deny that they sound very digital and "cheap". Of course this was the technology of the time so this is very understandable. By the time i started music we already had things like omnisphere, spitfire etc, so I'm sure you can understand why i dont relate to these sounds at all.
    I actually think the drums sound pretty cool. They're weird and different but they kind of remind me of something you might hear in lofi indie rock like beach house. I wasn't a huge fan of the keyboard and synth sounds. They mostly just sound like sine waves with some variation (which is probably what they are).
    I don't want to dissuade anyone from checking this out, its cool, just not something I'm personally into.

    septemberwalk25 December 2021