HenoHeno Ztar


Heno heno Ztar

What is Ztar?

small Ztar.gif I'm not sure that where should I start to explain this instrument. There are too many functions... And also, there are many models for Ztar. So I will explain about only MiniZXS; which I have. I heard there are only three or four Ztars in Japan.

Ztar is developed and out to the market around 1993, as an ultimate guitar synthesizer; which I guess... (^^;

To assemble guitar synthesizer, one of biggest problem is how it convert the tone which is played to digital signal(I think, I never build one...). Ztar uses the simplest solution for it. It just equips switches instead of real strings and frets! However, these days, evolution of MIDI pickups and such, this method gain not much advantages. I believe real figure of the Ztar is keyboards for tapping players, and adding guitar emulation mode.

There are many unique features in Ztar and one of them is called 'Zone' feature. One to up to sixteen zones can be assigned in one configuration. And a zone shapes square or rectangle. For e.g., Zone start form first string at first fret to third string at tenth fret, is first to tenth frets of first, second and third strings. And these zones can be overlapped. Each zone can be assigned each MIDI patch(i.e., program number or instrumental number), velocity curve, key transpose (which can be change the tuning) and such.

Using this feature, Stick(TM) tuning can be done. For example, first to twelfth frets for base side, and thirteenth to twenty fourth frets for melody side.

Ztar is made by StarrLab.

Heno heno Ztar parts

Ztar MiniZXS

small Ztar.gif This is whole view. It looks strange?

My Ztar is consists of Neck, 6 Drum Pads, 6 String Triggers, Joy Stick, Volume Control, LCD and accompanied switches (called Program Controller), Hot Switches, MIDI IN, MIDI OUT, Pedal Inputs, Thumb Sensor Strip, Octave Switches, CPU Board, Body and Power Supply. Now, ready explore each parts?

Heno heno how to play Ztar

Guitar Emulation Mode

small Guitar.gif If Ztar can be played completely like guitar, it would be a great benefit for guitarists. However, in this mode, there are several differences.

Since Ztar uses switches to determine the notes, unlike real strings, they cannot be muted with just touching the switches. When you strum the string with touching, not pressing, a switch, you will hear the tone of open fret of the string. For example, you want to use pinkie to phrase while other fingers to employ to holding F chord at first three frets, you will use the third finger to hold third fret of fifth string and mute the fourth string with your guitar. If you use same fashion, you will realize you are playing F7th.

The sound won't stop when the vibrato of the string trigger is stopped. It is understandable when you assign the sound of strings or organs. It will stop when you touch the string or brass bar, or releasing the fret.

It won't distinguish pulling-off the string or just release the string. So you will hear the open fret tone, when you play it as a guitar. It has switch to enable/disable pulling-off and hummering-on. When playing the guitar, there will be time rag with holding the fret and strumming the string. In this case, you will hear unwanted tone with pulling-off and hummering-on enabled.

This problems can be overcome with practice, I believe. And in spite of these things, still it is fun to use this mode.

Piano Mode

small Piano.gif Since I am Stick Player, this mode is I usually use as a Stick emulation mode. You will hear the highest tapped string, but in this mode, tapped tones will be all heard. It is not a problem for me at all. I believe if you are a Stick/Warr Guitar player, it won't be a problem, neither.

Tapping Mode

small Tapping.gif If you are tapping the guitar, it can be easily played with this mode. It depends on you to use pulling-off to open fret is enabled or not. I personally don't use this mode at all, since I cannot tap my guitar at all.


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