Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Guitar Week: Casio DG-10


It's another theme week here on Retro Thing.  We're going to look at some electric guitars for the next few days.  Now, guitar sound is a matter of preference; I've known players who got just as excited about a cheap 1950's guitar as a modern re-imagining of a classic 70's design. 

Rtguitarweeklogo2_2Because of this subjectivity, we're not presenting any of these guitars as being the best this or that.  The guitars we share with you are instruments that dared to rethink the role of the guitar - and we'll wind up the week showing you a cool retro-themed guitar that you can buy today.  So let's start with a truly unconventional example.

Everyone knows Casio for their massive line of cheap keyboards.  Through the technology of the 70's and 80's, they were able to bring what was once an expensive electronic instrument to practice rooms and toy boxes everywhere.  Hoping that lightning could strike twice, Casio introduced a number of comparatively low priced digital guitars with an unconventional futuristic look.

Casio_guit_tonesLike the multitude of keyboards before it, the Casio DG-10 is all plastic (strings included), has a rubber fretboard, multiple instrument sounds, and drum rhythms.  The strings don't need tuning as the guitar works on an interesting principle.  Pressing on the frets of the rubber keyboard is what selects the notes.  Strumming controls the amplitude.  It's actually a clever system as it side-steps the expensive and unreliable pitch-to-MIDI circuitry of the day, and it still lets you perform slides and taps just like on a real electric guitar.

The inbuilt speaker lets you rock out to the same instrument tones as you'd hear in just about PCM synthesis Casio keyboard in the late 80's.  So we're not talking life-like guitar tones here.  However the same old tones you remember sounding so bad on a Casio keyboard, sound almost credible from this thing.  It must have to do with playing the "shamisen" as a strummed chord rather than single notes on a keyboard?

The highest end model remarkably featured MIDI out, and rubber drum pads (oddly enough, they're not the usual nacho cheese color) for tapping along to the beat.  And what other lines of guitars can you name that run off of D cell batteries?

Casio_guit_03neckYou're going to make an impression with the Casio DG-10, and once you run it through an amp with some effects, you get an interesting sound that's pretty far from its all-plastic provenance.  The Casio guitars  seem to go for about $200 on Ebay with some regularity.  I don't think that a guitar like this should carry that kind of value, but it might be worth the scratch to show up your guitarist friends.  When they tell you about the struggle they went through to find their axe, you can just shrug and say that you found yours in the guitar aisle at Piggly Wiggly.

more plastic retro guitars

NES hacked to be a guitar

Sega Genesis also hacked to be a guitar


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