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Casio DG-20 Digital MIDI Guitar

In the 80's a lot of strange things were thought up, not the least of which was the Casio Digital Guitar.

The Casio DG-20 is a stringed guitar, but every time you play those strings, corresponding MIDI data is sent to the onboard computer, which plays the sounds of whichever instrument you've selected! Naturally the sounds are not mind-blowingly awesome, but some are actually pretty usable. You can either play the DG-20 as a standalone guitar via its built-in speakers, or for better quality sound you can plug it into your stereo.

Add to this the fact that it can output MIDI to whatever synths/VSTs you want, and its a pretty fun wee addition to any home studio!

I first actually heard about this piece of strange 80's musical gadgetry in an episode of The Flight of the Conchords! Around 25 years after it was released by Casio. The Conchords say that they bought their Casio DG-20 from a pawn shop in the future.

If anyone actually owns a Casio DG-20, let me know - I'd love to hear some first hand accounts of what it's like to use!


Sonya's picture

That second video is so funny! What a dork!

matt's picture

Yeah Sonya, those Conchords are classic! I posted a few of my favorite Conchords songs (that they performed through out their TV series...)

ed's picture

RoFL!! Fast Forward Selecta!!!! Hilarious never heard of the conchchords reminded me of bo selecta

A Freind of mine used to have one of theese i have to say it was awful the sound was pants and most of all it had no pitch bend . was like playing with a childs toy really. no substitute to a real guitar anyway .

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Sonya's picture

Well I didn't know about them til now. I am heading on over to the other forum. Check out some more, cause that is funny shite.

matt's picture

Ed - hehe yup the lack of pitchbend etc, and the tinny sounds are a slight downside ;) I guess it was mainly seeing what Bret from the Conchords managed to do with it in their live act that interested me in it. Somehow it became a funky component of their stage presence lol (they do play real guitars/bass as well, not just god awful 80s plastic guitars!!)

matt's picture

Sonya - you should definately check out the whole tv series... there are like 12 episodes I think which have all found their way onto the net naturally, and they're also making a second series due to the popularity of it

Ya Bama Boy's picture

HOW'S IT GO hey matt i actually found one of these things on ebay for about 109.00 yeah im def feelin the vibe, makes me want to dust off my red zipper jacket and moonwalk..lmao

matt's picture

Hey Ya Bama Boy - Haha thats about right huh! Cutting edge 25 year old technology ;)

Frank Marquis's picture

o my god...that second video was first i was thinking it would be kinda cool to have one of

matt's picture

Yeah Frank - theres a lot of that totally off the wall music focused comedy in Flight of the Conchords... you should check it out! Dam funny, they're making a second season at the moment...

Frank Marquis's picture

yea man....i'll have to check out and share it with others to get a good laugh

Gopal's picture

I've been looking for one of these for ages. If you know anyone that has one that works I'll have it in a heartbeat. Guitar to midi conversion would make the world of difference to my music as I've played guitar for around 15 years but can't play keys to save myself.

matt's picture

Yeah Gopal, never seen them in NZ - but I did find that one was sold on trade me on the 24 april 2007. So they must turn up every so often :P

They pop up on ebay reasonably often too, though with the shipping it could get a little pricey of course.

axiom07's picture

Here's a track I co-wrote, using the DG-20 for pretty well all synth parts and 'guitar' tones.

I didn't use the built in tones however. They're soft synths running in Logic Pro 8.
The DG-20 is a very handy beast for composing. I'm much more at home with a guitar than a keyboard, so a keyboard wrapped in a guitar shape like this is great for recording MIDI parts.

alphasun's picture

I have had one for years. They are excellent, the only drawbacks being:
[1] Rubber fingerboard wears out at frets 1-3 eventually. This is why mine is now permanently in storage. I had it rteplaced once by Casio when I lived in London but it's discontinued now. I haven't found out whther it works with the rubber removed and some sort of makeshift replacement.
[2] Only one velocity - 64 - for output
[3] Very heavy due to loudspeaker magnet. Could be removed.
Don't buy it for the onboard sounds but it does the job very well -- I recorded many instrumental solos with it, just tweaking the velocities afterwards in some cases. It's good for step input and other MIDI work as well, and the design is nice.
In my opinion however it has been superseded at the cheap end of the MIDI contoller market by the Yamaha EZ-EG (make sure you get the MIDI-capable vwersion).
I also have a Ztar, which is great but much more expensive.

Kronic's picture

That's funny. Not just the 2 posts above mine but the midi guitar. on my main writing guitar I installed a midi pickup on it. Which is a unit the sits behind the bridge and has a small pickup that goes under the strings by one of the other pick up's. Now-a-day I don't need the processor that used to go with it. I can turn it from midi straight to usb and have pro-tools or FL9 tab out everything. Its fun. Not always completely accurate since it couldn't sence some things or there were some cases of playing faster than it could interpreted but still fun.

That thing just looks ridiculous.

And yes I know this is an old thread.

N9N3T33N PRODUCTIONS - Coming Soon.

Reid Rainwater's picture

yeah, I checked out the Gratis Sex. I was hoping to get laid but they were all fat and old. Nasty bastard posting ugly girl porn on our beloved MakeTunes. At least give me some hot goth bitches with black hair and big boots!

Reid Rainwater
The Few, The Proud, The Machines
-New Army-

Kronic's picture

"At least give me some hot goth bitches with black hair and big boots!"

Amen Brother!

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