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Casio CTK-6200 first impressions

Casio CTK-6200

After a very long time of not having a proper full-size keyboard, I finally acquired a new one, and got it for a very specific reason...

...and that reason is that the Casio CTK-6200 is the lowest priced synth you can buy that has a real sequencer in it. I'll talk more about that in a moment.

The first thing to note about the CTK-6200 is that the CTK-6250 is literally the exact same model with a red center console in the middle instead of black. Feature-wise, the WK-6600 has the exact same capability as the CTK-6200, with the only real difference being the WK has 76 keys instead of 61. There is also the CTK-6300IN which has a silver center console. That model is localized to the India market. It is identical to the CTK-6200 save for the fact it has 12 unique Indian rhythms bundled with the unit.

In other words, the CTK-6200, CTK-6250, WK-6600 and CTK-6300IN are pretty much all the same thing. In the North American market, chances are you will come across the 6250 model. I specifically went for the 6200 because I prefer the look of it.

At the time I write this, I've not even owned my 6200 for more than 2 days, so here are my initial impressions of it.

Very good action for full-weighted keys

This is the first synth I've ever owned that has full-weighted keys on it. I always stayed away from them in the past because the action was usually terrible. Not so on the 6200. These keys have a genuinely good feel to them...

...mostly. Yes, they are a bit on the cheap side, but that's typical for the price point the 6200 sells for. Sometimes they feel a little clacky and thuddy, but for the most part they're easy to get along with.

For semi-weighted keys, the king of the hill for "cheap and good" is the Yamaha PSR series. However, none of the lower-priced models have a sequencer in it as far as I can tell, and that's why I didn't get one. That, and the lower-end Yamahas don't come with a power supply while the 6200 does.

The sequencer

The 6200 does have a 16-track sequencer in it (technically 17 when the "system track" is included,) and yes, it is the real deal.

Easy-to-use? No, but that doesn't surprise me at all. I'm able to get along with it because I come from the old school where pretty much all synth workstation sequencers were complicated. The 6200 sequencer gets the job done for what it is.

There really isn't any way to make a sequencer easy because it's not a 1-2-3 process. In the 6200 there is the typical "menu hell" to go through. And even though it can hold 5 songs in memory (certainly better than just one,) the way it's designed is meant for one-shot style playback, meaning not repeating.

I am getting used to the way the 6200 does things. I'm able to compose songs with it and get them sequenced up proper.

The sounds

In this day and age there really isn't any one synth that sounds better than another. What matters is the sounds you get, what you can do with them, and whether they're editable or not.

I'll start with editing first.

The 6200 does have a tone editor, but power synth users won't like it too much. This is where you're reminded of the price point. Upper-end synths allow you to edit things all the way down to a waveform level. The 6200 doesn't go that deep. Also, the 6200 doesn't allow for monophonic sounds, which I know for some would be a total deal-breaker.

However, yes you can save custom tones, and you can modify a whole bunch of stuff, so you do have some decent tone editing capability.

Most people who own this thing will never bother editing tones. Are the stock sounds good? Yes. Better than good, actually. Great. There are a few electronic pianos that have a great Rhodes style sound to them, a Deep Purple-like distorted organ tone, and the 6200 even has a dedicated SYNTH sound category that has a bunch of "computery" style waveform sounds.

Combine that with the fact there is touch sensitivity (which can be adjusted,) and yeah, the 6200 is very usable even if using nothing but all-stock tones.

Patterns?

This is not the 6200's strong suit. True, it has just shy of 150 built-in arp patterns when using the arpeggiator, but using them in the sequencer is frustrating at best, especially when attempting to use it with an automated drum track. Again, this is where you see the price point rear its ugly head.

Good for what it is

Casio calls this a "portable keyboard" and not a workstation. For what it is, you get a lot for the money. Sounds are good, action is good, and the fact it actually has a sequencer is great.

Ultimately, the 6200 leans more towards being a performance keyboard. Not the best thing to learn the keyboard on for total beginners (there are other models for that,) but it sits nicely for an intermediate synth without the intermediate price tag.

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