Casio Digital Horn

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Patent info Why the Digital Horn is unique DH-200 DH-500 Parts & Repairs
An appeal to the masses  

Patent info

The Casio Digital Horn, is a wind controller that was sold in around the mid 1980s. On April 10, 1990, the Casio Computer Co. was issued US Patent # 4,915,008 for its Digital Horn. Given that the instrument was already in production for a while at this point, it’s not surprising that the drawing that the company submitted with the patent application…

Casio Digital Horn, patent drawing, wind controller, wind synthesizer

Source: Google Patents

… looked pretty much the same as the production model.

Casio DH-100, Digital Horn, saxophone-shaped, wind controller, wind synthesizer

Source: Pre-Owned Palace on eBay.com

The Casio Digital Horn is unique, but why?

Besides being one of the first of wind synthesizers, this instrument is unique in a number of other respects. First up, there is of course its shape. To this day it remains one of the only—if not the only—wind synth that is shaped like a saxophone.

Secondly, there is the fact that it is fully self-contained. In the words of wind controller specialists, Patchman Music:

Unlike other wind controllers, the DH-100 can be powered via batteries, has a built-in sound generator, amplifier, and speaker, so you can play it in a parade or on the beach! It features built-in sounds as well as a MIDI OUT jack which allows you to expressively control MIDI synths. It also has a built-in synth featuring SIX sounds: saxophone, trumpet, synth-reed, oboe, clarinet, and flute. There is a built-in speaker with volume control.

There are switches to select the sound, transpose (2 octaves), and a Breath switch which allows you to play the horn without needing to blow into it if desired. There are also connections for headphones, MIDI OUT, and an AC adaptor (AC adaptor not included). The DH-100 also runs on five “AA” batteries making wireless a possibility using a standard wireless guitar system. There is a power-on LED indicator…

The DH-100 is a rather expressive MIDI controller. It transmits the full range of aftertouch data in response to your breath. It transmits variable velocity in response to how hard you attack a note. It transmits program changes 0 through 5 when you select the various tones with the tone button. It also transmits Portamento Switch (CC#65) when you press the Portamento key. This is a great way to get into the wonderful world of wind controllers.

Source: Pre-Owned Palace on eBay.com  Sold for  $219.99 US in Dec. 2013

In January 2014 this DH-100 appeared on eBay complete with case. Unfortunately unlike the one pictured above, this one needed repairs.

Source: jgn840 on eBay.com  Sold for $91.00 in Jan. 2014

In January 2015 this beauty showed up on eBay. Although it came with all its original bits, and looks like it had never been used, it still had that infamous Casio squeal.


Source: chami2112 on eBay.com

Other Casio Digital Horn models

Casio brought out a number of different models of the DH Series. Although the most commonly seen by far is the 100, other models were produced, and do pop up from time to time on eBay as well.

DH-200

The DH-200 was the second most common Digital Horn that Casio made. The only difference between it and the DH-100 is the colour. The body colour of the DH-200 is black, but it has silver keys.

Casio DH-200, Digital Horn, saxophone-shaped, wind controller, wind synthesizer

Source: faresrco2013 on eBay.com

Source: faresrco2013 on eBay.com  Sold for $153.50 US in Jan. 2014

DH-500

This model of the Digital Horn has quite a bit more bells and whistles than its DH-100 & 200 counterparts, and is seemingly a bit more rare.

Casio DH-500, Digital Horn, saxophone-shaped, wind controller, wind synthesizer

Source: buyjapan001 on eBay.com

According to one seller on eBay:

Casio MIDI DH-500 Digital Horn

  • The DH-500 has the Eb key on the right hand and also a B key on the left hand.

  • The DH-500 uses the same basic synthesize as the DH-200, but it adds a neat adjustable reverb effect that adds a lot of color to the sound.

  • There is the option of turning the vibrato on and off.

  • There is a slide switch on the back to select the voice.

  • The DH-500 has two octave buttons. The top one raises the pitch an octave just like on a real sax. The bottom one lowers the pitch an octave

Casio DH-500, Digital Horn, saxophone-shaped, wind controller, wind synthesizer

Source: buyjapan001 on eBay.com

There have been a couple of these DH-500’s that have sold recently on eBay. The first was in need of repair, and had the infamous squeal that these little wind controllers are known for. None the less, it still sold for $338.33 US in Jan. 2014.

Source: rgutt on eBay.com

The other DH-500 sold in Nov. 2013, and was in perfect working order. The price on it? $529.99 US.

Source: buyjapan001 on eBay.com

Where to get parts & a fix for that infamous Casio squeal

A common problem with these Digital Horns was that eventually they started to produce a high-pitched squeal. Many an owner put their instrument away, or sold them at a garage sale, because of this problem. There is a fix for this problem available however, and there are a couple of shops that specialize in the repair.

There are also shops, like Patchman Music, where you can still buy original Casio Digital Horn accessories and replacement parts like fingering charts, the how to get started books, mouthpieces, AC adapters, and carrying cases.

Casio DH-100, Digital Horn, saxophone-shaped, getting started book, song book, wind controller, wind synthesizer

Source: patchmanmusic.com Used with permission

Casio DH-100, Digital Horn, saxophone-shaped, mouthpiece, wind controller, wind synthesizer

Source: patchmanmusic.com Used with permission

An appeal to the masses

The Casio DH-100 was helped along with a pretty big name from the music world. Riding high on his Songbird fame, Kenny G lent his name and face in this 1988 ad.

vintage ad, electronic wind instrument, saxophone-shaped, Casio DH-100, EWI, Kenny G, print ad

Source: eBay.com

While some people may not like these early harbingers of the wind synthesizer sound, others really do still seem to love their Casio Digital Horns. Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying these little guys had a rather unique place in saxophonic history.