Recommend a synth for a 13 month-old girl

Aaron writes: "My daughter likes the volume and tempo knobs and buttons on her 1980 Yamaha Portasound better than the mini keys, but she tends to pull the knobs off. Same with my electric piano, though its few knobs are more tug-resistant. I'm reluctant to let her play my relatively fragile X-Station, so I am looking for a synth keyboard that will let her tweak away without choking hazard.
Requirements: Tough knobs that can withstand tugging and teeth, built in speakers since cords are for yanking and chewing, an arpeggiator and/or rhythm generator so she can get her groove on. The cheaper the better, but if it is something that she can grow up with, we might be able to spend more."
Obviously the perfect solution would be a Cybersongosse, apart from the cheap bit. Any more sensible suggestions? (The picture shows my son Alex rocking the Alesis Ion at 18 months)

Aaron, your daughter and my daughter should work together sometime...
your description seems to be describing a casio sk 1
you can get them on ebay for around $30
I've got a Casio SA-39 that's gathering dust on a shelf in my studio that I could let you have for US$20 plus shipping if you want to pay through or with a check.

If you're interested contact me at johnsrude "at"

oops.. posted this in the wrong thread... so here it is..

you could get here a circuit bent something or other that only has buttons. ??? a lot of those things have built-in speakers.

or one of those cheapo yamaha drum pad things? some wierdly tuned bongos?

too bad roland mc-303's dont have built in speakers..
I had a Casio VL-Tone from when I was around 2, and it lasted until I was 8-9 despite being bashed around a lot. That and a tape of Kraftwerk given to me when I was 6 sorted me out, although I never understood why since neither of my parents like electronica... you can still pick up VL-Tones on eBay for under £20.
Thanks for the tips everyone. I should have mentioned that I am in Japan, so it may be relatively easy for me to find used Japanese gear here. The Casio models mentioned I can probably find on auction. The MC-303 or something like it might be more suitable, since it has sturdy looking knobs. . . Tonight, she tried playing her Yamaha Portasound (tiny image here = by walking and sitting on it. The keys are tough, but the knobs keep coming off. She needs more knobs to twist.
Take the yamaha and glue the controls onto their shafts with superglue.
You won't be able to take it apart for repair, but who sends their 1980 portasounds for repair anyway?
Well my kids (14months, 4 and 6 years old) love my korg electribes. Lots of flashing lights and cool sounds to be made while tweaking knobs. I would recommend any of the early ones, ES-1,EA-1, ER1, and EM-1. They have no sharp edges on the molded plastic cases which is very kid safe. Like someone else mentioned, I would glue the knobs on for a really small child, to avoid any choking hazard. I picked up each one of the mentioned grooveboxes for $75 each, used.
I had a Yamaha CS-1X that was pretty damned bulletproof, and it's an excellent synth available regularly on eBay for under $200.
I only played acoustic pianos at 18 months (seriously) -- they can take some additional abuse. Actually, they still take abuse at my hands.

Anyway, Tom, you know the answer to this question -- clearly an OASYS!

80's Casio organs. They usually have an arpegiator and a rhythm section + some tone controls. I think they're Casio CT's

Yamaha Portasound PSS-480 or 680: with FM synthesis. One of the PSS keyboards has sliders... not sure which one it is, but it was reviewed in TapeOp a few issues back.

If you want to spend a bit of money, your best bet is Roland Juno HS-60 (106 with built in speakers)

If you didn't need built in speakers, you'd have a lot more options.
My wife found a Yamaha Portasound PSS-480 at a yard-sale for $2. She knows to buy such things for me :-) But that is what I let our 13 month old son play with... It has no knobs, lots of buttons, and just two sliders. One for on/off and one for volume.
If she likes to turn knobs (and who doesnt?), I would like to suggest you actually buy something that has knobs and just replace the push-on knobs with ones that attach with a set-screw, like the kind you can get from Radio Shack. I don't think she'll be able to pull them off! Good luck =)
My daughter at the age of 8 months really liked my zoom drumpad.
I hooked it up o the stereo and she played as good as I do :)
Oh, I almost forgot.

€50 gets you a wood-encased synth with a pure analog signal path, lots of control and a built in speaker: The Cracklebox

Alex loves it, although it is slightly annoying when he's playing with it (it's very, very noisy)
my little lady [almost one year] started on the 50'es philicorda organ, moved on to the casio v1, and REALLY loves the casio sk5...
but the real hit is the casio dh100 midi saxophone [in key only mode - she obviously cant blow the thing]...
go casio!
also a wind up radio, the eton fr200, is a very good thing for static and glitch...
oh and nothing has broken yet!
our apartment is so small, that my almost-2-yr-old has full access to all my gear. (i can hear you all gasping now). she is actually pretty good around it. the keyboards are high enough for her to only touch the keys (unless she gets on the couch which is adjacent to the boards). her weapon of choice, however, is a casio sa-32, that can play happy birthday over and over and over. that casio is not recommended. also, she's had a lot of fun singing what she sees in her books while strumming the guitar.
Strikes me that the ideal would be an old Moog Source: I looked on eBay, there aren't any around right now but you never know…

[btw, is it just me or is blogger more resistant to auto-login than any other type of board?]
easy: yamaha DJX. made for beating by kids, sounds great, even has some decent features .. check it, yo!
I second the motion recommending the yamaya DJX

This girls dad bought her a buchla, hmmm.. I wish my dad had bought me a buchla. Get her a little keyboard and put a pitch knob, everyone (especially little kids) love tweaking things that are quite distinguishable (if that is a word)

good luck!

My three girls all started on a Yamaha DX100. The only thing I can't recommend about it is the plastic keyboard. The tang broke off the key for middle-c. Such is life. It didn't hurt, they loved the sounds, eventually learned to choose them by themselves, and all are still musicians. The 9-year-old is also becoming quite an accomplished pianist.

As for the boys, my eldest didn't show much interest in it. The younger one (15 now) didn't either, and became a darn good pianist in spite of the lack of exposure.

Any conclusions from this? Not from me. But the DX100 did please my young ladies.
Thanks everyone! Still looking. Lots of good suggestions. The Yamaha DJX does look like it might fit the bill for fun, durability and price, but I am going to look into all of the options that you have suggested. Thanks again.
Hey I'm a Musical Interaction Designer for children. Dare me, and I just might design the perfect synth for 18-month olds!!
get a proper analogue synth for her. Most of them are damn near unbreakable.

Or Maybe a cracklebox? Those are fun.

Or an Alesis AirSynth. Or a theremin? It takes years to learn play the damned things, might as well start early :)
There's an extremely simple way to do what you want.. with the synths you have already.

Take your synth to a electronics repair shop and have the knobs and potentiometers replaced with ones that are screwed on (there's a small screw in the side). The kids won't take that off!

Concertmate MG 1
ebay selling things - The automatic money-machine on eBay. Let me show you how to automate YOUR eBay Business TONIGHT
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