Casio MIDI Guitars
The guitars themselves were produced under contract for Casio by Fuji Gen Gakki, who also built the Roland and Ibanez MIDI guitars. Most of them were based on the Fender Stratocaster design. (All trademarks are the property of their owners, who aren't paying me a dime for this valuable publicity.)
Also common to both systems are controls located inside the instrument body, but quickly accessible by removing a pair of rubber plugs on the back of the guitar.
Under one plug, there's a row of six tiny pots, for adjusting the sensitivity of the pitch/velocity detection system for each string individually.
Under the other, there's a row of microswitches, AKA DIP switches-- nine in the MG guitars, ten for the PGs. These switches toggle MIDI Poly and Mono modes, select the MIDI channel(s) on which data is transmitted, set the MIDI pitch bend range, and determine the standard A4 pitch.
A rugged metal structure recessed into the back of the guitar's lower right bout mounts the input/output ports--MIDI out, audio out (one on the MGs, two on the PGs) and 9-volt DC in. Both models allow use of battery power from six AA cells.
MG-Series Electronics: The MG-series electronics also feature a MIDI volume control, which puts out MIDI Continuous Controller #7 data when rotated. A trio of three-way switches handle selection of guitar sound, MIDI sound, or both; octave selection (down one, normal or up one); chromatic or normal (bend- transmitting) configuration, and program change. This last is ingenious: Flip the program change switch up, pick a single string while fretting it anywhere in the lowest 16 frets, and a program change message is sent over the MIDI cable. The system allows selection of 96 different programs; it does not allow program changes while playing, as the switch must be returned to its center (chromatic) or normal (down) position in order for note and velocity information to be output via MIDI.
PG-Series Electronics: The PG- electronics include a built-in, monotimbral, playback-only synthesizer using VZ technology, with 64 preset sounds in internal ROM. However, a door on the back of the guitar allows insertion of a RAM card for playback of sounds created on a VZ-1, VZ-8M, or VZ-10M. The internal synth does offer one useful feature: It operates in legato mode. That is, while in chromatic mode, if you pick a fretted string and then slide your finger up the fretboard, you won't get a new attack from the synth at each fret, as you will with an external MIDIed synth.
The PG-series instruments give you control over program change, chromatic- normal, octave selection, and internal sounds or RAM/ROM card sounds with pushbuttons. Unlike the MG-series electronics, this system permits program change on the fly during songs. The PG- guitars have a volume control for the internal synth, but this has no effect on an external MIDIed synth (no continuous controller #7 here). A pair of quarter-inch audio output jacks allows separate cables for guitar and synthesizer sound output; a mono mix output is available on the synthesizer output jack for those foolish enough to want one, and a single stereo cable can be plugged into the guitar output jack for those who wish to reduce cord clutter. It's possible to use as few as one (a stereo audio cord, with battery power and no external MIDI device) or as many as four (separate audio outs for guitar and synth sound, MIDI, and an external 9v adapter).
PG-380: This was Casio's top of the line guitar, listing for about US$1500. Body: Alder, longer than a Strat's and lacking the tummy cut and armrest contouring of the Strat, due to the numerous cavities routed in the body to accomodate the electronics. Pickups: neck and bridge single-coil, bridge humbucker splittable by a pushpull switch on the tone control. Bridge: Gotoh Floyd Rose-style (licensed) locking vibrato. Neck: Maple with ebony 22-fret fingerboard; locking nut.
MG-510: Apparently the most widely produced MG-series guitar, listing for about US$900. Body: Basswood; a close copy of the Strat, with slightly pointier horns. Pickups: Same as PG-380, bridge humbucker splittable by a toggle switch located between the guitar volume and tone controls. Bridge: very similar to standard Strat non-locking vibrato. Neck: Maple with rosewood 22-fret fingerboard; graphite low-friction nut.
MG-500: Identical to MG-510 except for a basswood body somewhat resembling the mutant offspring of a Vox Teardrop and a Coral Electric Sitar.
PG-310: PG-380 body and electronics with MG-510 neck and bridge.
PG-300: PG-310 with a single-coil bridge pickup in place of the humbucker.
Casio also made a Guitar-Shaped MIDI Controller, the DG-20.