Saturday, December 23, 2017

The YL-112 mini electron: Styloclone or Stylophony?

I once heard a funny variation of an old idiom: Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery. If that is true, whoever designed and marketed the Japanese-made Origin model YL-112 mini electron organ was a big fan of the official dubreq Stylophone.

The YL-112 cabinet design is very similar to the real McCoy, but slightly wider, with sharper corners. A metal mesh grille covers the speaker area. The metal tip of the stylus is more round than the conical tip of a real Stylophone.
It has a vibrato switch and a rotary off/on/volume control. A side panel holds an output jack for an earphone or external amplifier.

The box art indicates that the instrument has 6 transistors.  I guess this is supposed to be a good thing. One better than 5, anyway.
I can't make a fair analysis of this instrument's sound quality. This particular specimen in the Stylophone Museum does produce sound, but there must be some worn or defective electronic components, because the volume is weak and gets progressively worse with lower pitches. Also, the vibrato circuit isn't working.

There were several instruments around the world that featured the Stylophone's stylus and metal keyboard while dubreq's original patents were still in force. Most or all of them are certainly unauthorized copies, but some have design elements or packaging so similar to dubreq products that they could pass for licensed variants. You can see a few photos of Stylophone clones on another blog called Squeezytunes. Click on these links: 1, 2.  Also, check out these pages on 1, 2, 34.