OK, now I know some of you are already thinking... "Brent's lost his mind. How could the company made famous for the SK-1 sampling keyboard acutally produce a cool guitar?"
Dead serious, though, this is actually a decent guitar. I've been looking for a strat-knockoff for a while so I could install EMG's and a Roland hex pickup in it. I found this Casio for sale pretty cheap, played it for a few minutes, and decided it was worth wrapping up. The MG510 model basically looks like a black strat with a black pickguard, black pickups, black hardware, etc.
The basic specs:
- basswood body
- ebony fretboard, 22 frets
- vintage trem, graphite nut
- passive H/S/S configuration, volume, tone, 5-way switch, coil-tap switch
- made in Japan, in the Fuji Gen Gakki factory
The MIDI implementation is really cool. Instead of having the Roland-type 13-pin connector, it's got a standard MIDI 5-pin connector, so it can be plugged directly into a synth, computer, or sound module. Like the Roland, it's got a knob for MIDI volume and a switch for guitar/MIDI/both output. In addition, it's got a built-in tuner (sweet!), octave up/down switch, and chromatic/normal switch (basically determines whether bending strings & sliding sends a MIDI pitch bend signal or not). Finally, the "program change" mode allows you to switch presets on your MIDI device by turning the volume knob OR fretting any note on the fretboard. Has individual trim pots to control the output level of each string and a series of DIP switches for various MIDI configuration (channel setting, etc). The MIDI electronics are powered by a battery pack consisting of 6 AA batteries, or can be powered by a 9V wall wart.
My overall assessment: Pretty cool for a 15+ year old MIDI guitar. Tracking isn't quite as good as the Roland MIDI gear, but it's a lot simpler and less expensive, so my expectations weren't too high. The guitar has a nice feel to it. The stock pickups are decent--the single coils sound good, humbucker is a little flat but no worse than most modern day stock pickups. Overall, the build quality and innovative MIDI implementation makes it well worth the generally low price on the used market. If you see one for sale and are interested in MIDI guitar, it's a much cheaper way to "get your feet wet" and doesn't require drilling holes in one of your current axes to install the Roland MIDI pickup. Even if the MIDI implementation totally sucked, it'd still be worth it as a strat knock-off!
Next steps for me: I just got an EMG 89/SA/SA set, which I'm going to use to replace the stock pickups. I'm also thinking about rewiring it to run on MIDI phantom power so I won't have to use all the AA batteries or have a wall wart running into the guitar. I've even debated replacing the vintage trem with a Wilkinson and adding locking tuners, but I'm not yet sure if the extra $$ spent will really bring that much benefit.
A little more info on the guitar is available here:
Pics of mine coming soon!