Tag Archives: design

Liwaco’s Casio Clones

Liwaco LW-630

The Liwaco LW-630, a Casio PT-30 clone

Everybody knows about those licensed Casio clones built by Radio Shack in the US, but few people know that there’s another cloner. Liwaco was a French electronics gadget manufacturer of the 1980s, and besides many LCD games, they also released quite a few (licensed?) rebuilds of Casio mini keyboards. Some of them come in a pretty cool, or at least unique, bordeaux-red case.

Here’s a list of the Liwaco’s I could dig up. All of these keyboards are very rare and obscure, and I haven’t got any reliable information about  any additional or left-out features, but everything I read (mostly small ads etc.) indicates that Liwaco just put the original hardware into a differently colored case — with French writing, of course.

Liwaco LW-60E: This is the Casiotone MT-11 (1982/83) in an ugly greyish-brownish case.

Liwaco LW-60E

Liwaco LW-60E

Liwaco LW-80: This is a clone of either the Casio PT-82 (1985) or PT-87 (1987); both only differ in that the PT-87 is missing the headphone jack, so… It’d be interesting to know if Liwaco also offered their own ROM-Packs?

Liwaco LW-80

Liwaco LW-80

Liwaco LW-600: This must be the most obscure Liwaco, I only found one image where half of it is displayed. Judging from it, it is probably a clone of the Casio PT-1 (c. 1984).

Liwaco LW-600

Liwaco LW-600

Liwaco LW-610: Now it gets interesting: This is the venerable VL-1 (1981), of course — ever seen a mini-synthesizer in a bordeaux case? I’d love to get my hands on one of these, to complete my collection of VL-1 clones (I already got the Radio Shack Concertmate 200).

Liwaco LW-610

Liwaco LW-610

Liwaco LW-630: This is the great PT-30 (c. 1982), one of my favorite keyboards and definitively underrated. It was an early successor of the VL-1, and doesn’t feature the synth, but it has an incredibly complex editable sequencer that stores several short patterns and allow them to be played back in any order… Also, I love the separate chord keys.

Liwaco LW-630

Liwaco LW-630

Liwaco LW-640: The last one is a clone of the PT-80 (c. 1984), again with ROM-Pack. Actually, this came before the PT-82/PT-87, and it’s still got the chord keys of the PT-30/PT-50 — I don’t quite understand Liwaco’s numbering scheme.

Liwaco LW-640

Liwaco LW-640

Today, there is a Hong Kong company called Liwaco, but I don’t know if there are any connections to this French manufacturer.

Woodgrain Casio MT-30

One of the strangest, oldest, or at least rarest keyboards in my little collection surely is possibly this one, a fake woodgrain version of the Casio MT-30 from 1981:

The Casio MT-30, woodgrain version

The Casio MT-30, woodgrain version

When I saw it on ebay, where there was only an extremely fuzzy image. The vendor also didn’t seem too trustworthy, and I was really wondering if that wouldn’t be a rip-off. But nobody else seemed interested, so I bid and got this little piece of keyboard history for a few euros.

While Casio released many of its earlier full-size Casiotones in this weird and incredibly cheessy fake woodgrain design, this is, as far as I know, the only midsize Casio ever in that style — guess that Casio soon realized that the 1980s kiddies weren’t too hot on that 1970s home organ style… Apart of that, it seems identical to the usual off-white MT-30.

Together with the M-10, the MT-30 was the very first midsize keyboard Casio ever produced. It is already 8-voice polyphonic, but doesn’t feature luxuries such as rhythm or even accompaniment. This is 1981, folks! Still, it has vibrato and sustain effects, and the main voice sound is great, warm and analog-sounding — and they’re also amazingly varied and crisp, not at all like my MT-400V.

I also own the MT-40, which has exactly the same main voice hardware, but throws in analog beats and even some mega-cool monophonic bass accompaniment.  (By the way, the MT-40 rock preset was used in that great dancehall classic Under Me Sleng Teng — one of the few hit songs the feature a Casio home keyboard. This “Sleng Teng Riddim” is also the fully electronic dancehall “riddim”, thus earning Casio its well-deserved place in music history. ) The MT-40 is a pretty cool collector’s item, quite rare and expensive, while you can get MT-30s for next to nothing — but not woodgrain ones.

In consequence, it is one of the few keyboards I could sell without missing a single sound — but, hell, this woodgrain case is just too cool! And I also like to think it is super-duper-rare… Is it really? Has anyone ever seen another one of this — or another woodgrain MT? Pray tell.

JVC/Victor Concert (“Konsatobikutoron”)

Ever seen such an incredibly cool-looking organ?

The Victor Concert

The Victor Concert

What a design! Like right out of a science fiction movie! I love it.

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