If you’re looking for a nostalgic piece of gear that is unique, fun, AND pretty impressive for the price and size, look no further than the Casio VL-Tone VL-1! I recently picked one up used from Reverb. It was in pretty good cosmetic condition aside from a few scuffs and scratches here and there. Nothing major. The battery compartment has no corrosion, the LCD screen works beautifully, and the speaker still sounds pretty good. I paid a bit more than I’d hoped, and I later saw that if I had just waited a few weeks more would have been added to eBay, thus driving down prices. (LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES! There are TONS of these floating around.. check Mercari, eBay, Etsy, Reverb, etc..)
The only issue with the unit was that the keys felt a little sticky to me. There are a couple videos online detailing the general cleaning of the circuit board inside the VL-Tone, but nothing (that I could find) where the board had been removed in order to access the keys- so I was flying blind behind that board. I wasn’t sure what kind of mechanism I would find that might be fixed in order to relieve any key stick.
While I unfortunately did not snap a picture of the mechanism, the keys are simply sitting loosely in the holes on the face of the VL-Tone, and there are concave rubber contact behind each key, which when pressed by the key itself, makes contact with the circuit board. I gave the faceplate a good scrub with dawn, along with all the keys, buttons, switches, and the rubber key contact pads. I made sure to really scrub well in the key holes. I believe that the only reason for the keys sticking was that grime had built up in the key hole rims over time. After the thorough cleaning and reassembly the keys do not stick at all.
Overall, the Casio VL-Tone VL-1 is very simple to disassemble and reassemble. I plan to write a step-by-step guide in the near future detailing the teardown and all the nuances. The most challenging part that made me the most nervous was unseating the LCD screen, as it’s connected by such a thin cable. As long as you’re careful and patient, it’s no problem. Stay tuned for the teardown guide!