Seiko DS-250




Get this... My buddy Les manages a music store near Fartford, CT. He calls me up a few weeks ago and says, "Dave, have I got a keyboard for you." I tell him, "Les, for the love of Dog, I do not need another keyboard. I already have about twelve too many." He said, "no, NEED this keyboard. It's made by Seiko." "The watch company??" "Yeah."

So I drove down there and checked it out. It looked like is was in good enough shape, but the first impression I got was this was just another one of those late-'80s Casio-style pieces of junk with built in speakers and preset sounds rivaling only a Pong game for quality. But upon closer inspection I became, somewhat at least, more impressed. It has a pitch bend wheel. It has 16 MIDI channels, with IN/OUT/THRU which is pretty damn good for 1985 so far. There looked to be limited envelope control in the form of sustain (release, really) and pitch modulation (LFO). Also had separate outputs for two different polyphonic sounds which could be split or layered (very similar to a Jupiter-8!). It's a 12-voice, digital additive synth in every respect, crappy plastic interface and all. Pretty interesting though, definitely odd, and rare enough to not even have a listing on

It even came with a DS1000 sequencer; a box about the size of a VHS tape with four buttons: REC, PLAY, STOP, & PAUSE. It also had a tempo slider. And that's it. It runs via MIDI so it's useable with any MIDI device, although in 2005 it's mostly useable to keep dust from accumulating on the surface underneath it.

Anyway, check out the fun sound sample I put together...lots of riffs from '80s tunes to reveal not-entirely-terrible sounding presets. From what I was told in a few forums, it came with a patch editor similar to the PG-200, which would have jacked my personal rating up at least a star or two.

As you can see, I did end up taking this keyboard home from the music store, although it was weeks later. When we tried plugging it in the first day I checked it out, it didn't make any noise. The lady who had dropped it off abandoned it, so Les gave it to me free. I paid $20 to have their tech poke at it with his thinkstick long enough to figure out it just had dirty outputs from sitting in a closet for twenty years. So now it can sit in mine for another twenty. UPDATE 12/30/05: Nah. I sold it to this cool guy instead.

One more was actually used on a pretty distinctive Jean-Michel Jarre album in 1986 called "Rendez-vous." After a bit of Googling I discovered it showed up on tracks being used right alongside Moogs, a laser harp, and an Elka Synthex! Holy crap! What's this thing doing in that company? Maybe Jarre had some sort of sponsorship from Seiko. It's the only logical explaination.

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Copyright 2005 David C. Lovelace