Casio SK-1 Hacking

casio sk-1

The Casio SK-1 was one of the cheapest sampling synths on the market when it was released. It has since become a popular target for circuit benders. Check out this awesome SK-1 mod with custom case and panel. You may remember reader [jumpstart]’s bent SK-1 as well. Make even had a article on the SK-5. If you don’t want to chop up your keyboard too much, [mike] pointed out that you can add your own MIDI-in port with minimal work. Highly Liquid even offers the parts as a kit.

11 thoughts on “Casio SK-1 Hacking

  1. I feel a vibration in the gravitational field amongst blogs. Is blogspace going to collapse and in the new continuum this blog being inextricably fused with MusicThing? How to stop this fro happening? Am I accelerating the process? Is this world doomed? (Wait, I know that: “yes.”)

  2. that korg-esque sk1 is one of the most badass bent projects i have seen.

    my one problem with the whole bending scene is that it seems as if lots of people making music from bentstruments arent very musical, and most of it turns out like shit. i play my sk1 through a whole slew of guitar pedals, and can get some very interesting sounds that dont devolve into static and noise. i guess some people like that.

    with that being said, i think i will try to build a similar case for my own sk1, but perhaps with some hacked up filters and pedals inside, and maybe with one or two bends for the hell of it.

  3. also, note that the sk-1 sound is fairly widely used unbent. Go listen to some (I am 100% sure about this) autchre or some (I’m about 90% sure about this) boards of canada. also, lots of early acid house used the sk-1 sound.

  4. #4 needs to follow up on #5’s music suggestions! It’s great stuff.

    There’s just more to music than what’s on the top 50 on iTunes. There’s a whole universe of soundscapes that experimentation like this contribute to – stuff from abstract noise all the way to modern dance techno. Circuit bending is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Just search for ‘experimental’ under Winamp Shoutcast Radio. Googling for ‘power noise’ will also help you get a taste for what distortion gates and bent circuits can really do.

  5. #6: note that 4 and 5 were both written by me.

    by all means I enjoy music that others wouldnt. to name drop a whole bunch, i dig some, not all, merzbow, and am really into the whole breakcore/drill and bass/whatever the buzzword of the day is thing. ive also been into grindcore/noise and its spinnoff genres (power violence etc) for longer than i can remember.

    i think i have two very specific problems with a great deal of music made on only bentstruments. one is that the focus seems to be on the awesomeness of the instrument, and not the awesomeness of the sound coming out of it, while this certainly makes for interesting performance art, it does not make for interesting sounds coming through my headphones. my other problem is that, being predominantly a dj, i enjoy very beat driven music (venetian snares being my faviorte artist of the moment), and there seems to be a lack of beat driven bent music.

    i guess ultimately, im of the opinion that ultimately its about the music that you make, not what you do it with. doing shitty things with hacked up toys does not make you cooler or better than someone doing cool things with loops in garageband. doing cooler things with hacked up toys will make you cooler and better.

  6. mike, I have to agree. I love circuit bending, as a hobby but I have yet to find any music that I love that I know was circuit bent, I’ve got some really great casio out of the box tracks that I love but every circuit bent album I’ve listened to is noise mostly. The only saving grace would be NIN’s last album which used a bent SK-1 as well.

    As a musician myself I still haven’t found the right track to use the circuit bent instruments that I have (an SK-1 is one of them) but I don’t make much industrial or metal music where they really fit in.

    Here is a link to the circuit bending related posts on my site

    i would also suggest the book Circuit Bending by Reed Ghazala, he’s an all around nice guy.

  7. Hey good to know that I’m not alone on circuit bending. I’ve always loved the idea of taking something manufactured and rebuilding it to make music in new and bizarre ways but very little circuit bent music does much for me. In practice I actually seem to prefer artists who use traditional instruments and effects boxes to produce unexpected sounds that fit with their more general musical ideas. (Squarepusher etc.)

    Part of this is that I suspect a lot of the best circuit benders out there aren’t really musicians. I was invited to a party a while ago to listen to a group of benders jam. At first I was so thrilled to be around so many bizarre instruments and to be hearing such crazy sounds… but then it struck me that most of it was basically noise that had no real meaning to me… it just didn’t connect. Sure enough all of the people I talked to there were more techies or polymorphous hipsters than musicians.

    But honestly this hack has given me new hope for circuit bending. The creator clearly put tremendous thought into creating something that doesn’t just produce random noise but produces new musical sounds in a somewhat controlled fashion. Very slick!

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