Saturday, 21 August 2010

Casio PG-380 Midi Guitar

I've felt a huge amount of guilt, because yes, I did it again. I have another guitar.

I've kept it secret for quite a while now. As of the time of writing this (Sept 21), it been a month since I actually got hold of it. I won the auction on the 19th of August, and it arrived two days later.

This one's a little different though (that's what I tell myself). The guitar in question is a Casio PG-380 MIDI guitar. Around 1987, this was the top-of-the-line instrument in the line up - alder body, ebony neck, Gotoh licensed Floyd Rose, and it's own internal synthesizer.

I think when people hear the word "Casio" they think of cheap watches, but this's pretty cool. The guitar was produced in the Fujigen Gakki factory, so essentially this is a Casio-branded "Ibanez" strat! The passive pickups remind me a bit of the active pups on the Charvel I had, the single coils sounding strat-like, but a little fatter. It's kind of an 80s sound I'd think.

The guitar weighs similar to my Les Paul. I think it's due in part to all the electronics in the body. If Darth Vader was a guitar this would be him for sure.
The internal synth has quite a few useable sounds. There aren't any effects on the patches, but adding a delay or reverb externally they really come alive. There's also a ROM card port for even more sounds too. Casio no longer makes midi guitars these days. Roland has soldiered on with their models, but I think this system has a few advantages.

Roland uses a proprietary system which forces you to use one of their (sound) modules. The external Roland pickup has to be mounted either with double-sided tape, or screwed into one of your guitars.

The Casio system on the other hand is all built-in. It's as easy as plugging a standard midi cord directly from the guitar into the midi port of a external synthesizer, or into a USB to midi interface, controlling a soft synth on a computer. (I bought a Hong Kong USB to Midi from eBay Australia that does the trick).

I tried a Roland, and I find the tracking to be comparable. I can understand why guitarists haven't quite turned onto the midi side of things. This unintentionally funny Roland promotional Youtube video doesn't really do any favours towards the cause.

It does open up some nice possibilities of interesting sounds though. This impressive saxophone demo played on the cheaper MG model shows what these Casio guitars are capable of. I just have to decide whether I REALLY needed to have it :( If anyone makes me a nice offer, I might let it go.

While we're on the topic of Casio, I thought I'd mention a free fun, time wasting iPhone app I discovered called "Number Invaders". It's based on the Casio MG-880 space invaders game calculator. I don't remember owning it myself, but I remember playing it a long, long time ago.

I've been catching up on the 80s lately a lot. I've been listening to the "Electric Dreams" soundtrack. Remember that? A computer falls in love with the owner's girlfriend. "Moles!"

Damn I miss the 80s!


Adam Smith Lieberfarb said...

It was acceptable in the 80's, and with good reason. I always thought this was a just a toy, but then again was the Casio SK-1...

Is this a keeper, or are you thinking of selling?

Jimmy In Japan said...

I'm still considering selling it. I just don't get it out all that much. The Steinberger is my "go to" guitar at the moment for the ease of grabbing it in a small apartment.

I wouldn't call the PG a toy, unlike their DG-20 which DOES look and feel like a toy. I see them in secondhand stores all the time. As a guitar it sounds quite nice too.

I just have too many guitars :(