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Topic: Ztar and Gigastudio

  1. #1

    Ztar and Gigastudio

    Well, I was pleasantly surprised to see other Ztar users here (Z6 and KingIdiot). I suspected it with a name like Z6! (I should call myself Z10).

    Anyway, I\'d like to see all Ztar users raise theirhands. We can then contact each other on issues arising with the ztar and Giga.

    I for one find the ztar to be a real moody beast with Giga, though when I went to Harvey\'s StarrLabs and used his stand alone module the ztar responded much better.

    I just can\'t seem to get the same touch response that I can get out of a keyboard. String triggers are alovely idea but again not as fast as I\'d wished. You guys have this same problem?

  2. #2

    Re: Ztar and Gigastudio

    Hi Marty,

    Yes, I haven\'t tried the Ztar with anything but Gigastudio and when I raised my points on velocity control with Harvey, he seemd puzzled to the point of not actually undertsanding what I was talking about (it might have been also my inability to express myself; midi-wise).

    I\'d quickly say here though that I am 100% satisfied with the Ztar, it is miraculous.

    I\'d love to be able to access more of the Malmsjo, for example, but the reason I bought the Malmsjo is because it is so sweet even at high velocity values.

    As the King said in his interview, Harvey is working through some new software that may help.

    I think I\'d personnaly rather use Gigastudio than go for a module that might offer some light relief in the velocity department but deprive me of all the wonderful libraries and features of Gigastudio.

    I didn\'t order (proper) strings with mine. I knew if I had strings I\'d just use it as a midi guitar. Without strings I\'m forced to explore two-handed playing. I can honestly say I\'ve never enjoyed making music so much (albeit not much for the listener) since the time I took up classical guitar (at age 19) and before I went to music college to learn advanced self-consciousness (my own fault).

    I\'m currently threatening to setup a string orchestra for my left hand and a solo instrument (or even more of an orchestra) in my right, when I have the time (perhaps a bit less talking rubbish here might be better for me in this department; but hell, I usually post at work).

    I\'ve made a couple of stabs but haven\'t begun to even scratch the surface of the incredible GOS; a work of art that humbles me. I need to spend more time believing it and getting on rather than constantly catching myself with my mouth wide open at the mere sounds being produced by my \'guitar(?)\'

    Anyway, I absolutely love the Ztar. I feel privileged to be alive at such times when this technology is available to old twangers such as myself. I used to dream about these things many years ago, and now they have come to pass on the efforts of some very bright sparks.

    Now, like you, Harvey has cursed me and I want to be able to play it with the same expression available on keyboards. I expect it will come in time (that\'s why I sneakily asked the King in his interview; if anyone can find a workaround, he can.)

    Happy Ztaring!

  3. #3

    Re: Ztar and Gigastudio

    Whoops! Forgot to mention another ambition realized with the help of Mr. Dean. I assign volume up to two pads using the cello from DDSS, then I can tap with my left hand and control \'expression\' (although I tend to use the actual volume controller) with my right (two patches; usually one legato, the other stacc.).

    I always wanted to play the Bach cello suites with the raw power that cellists can get (without having to worry about being in tune the way guitarists can enjoy \'frets\'). I don\'t know how \'authentic\' it would sound to \'experts\' but for me, it\'s like I\'m playing cello: the Ztar also allows something not afforded keyboards here; we can play in \'mono\' mode in the true sense of a violin or cello, so we don\'t get overlaps but can still get polyphony. Yummee.

  4. #4

    Re: Ztar and Gigastudio

    Well, I share your enthusiasm for this controller.

    I kept playing around with the idea of a guitar that had buttons...since I wasn\'t satisfied with the pitch-to-midi converter scheme.

    Viola! Harvey pops out of the woodwork and I just drooled (not over Harvey! but the ztar). I needed one of those midi beasts.

    I found a used one (and an old) called the VRX-S. The fingerboard triggers were lovely and very responsive...but the string triggers were another story.

    I sold that back to Harvey and had a Z-10 (diamond shaped) made for me with string triggers (updated software with better string response...better but not great!) and no pads.

    I love this thing just on the idea alone (which probably confuses the heck out of Harvey as I tell him his ztars are fabulous while I\'m complaining about some problem or another with the string triggers misfiring!!)

    When i have to do jazz comping parts or quick violin lines or an arpeggiated harp part, the ztar always shines for me.

    I use mostly from the 12 fret onward since it\'s more comfortable to play. The 1st to the 5th fret seem a weird arm stretch/position...don\'t know if you encounter that as well.

    So, I set up a Ztar Junior preset using only the 12 fret to the 24 fret (which is 6 zones)...plus another six zones for the open strings. So, this way I can play the standard folk chords \'C\' G, etc at the 12fret-15 fret as if I were playing them in the first position of the ztar (with open strings and all).

    Next thing I\'d say I do, is since the velocity/sensitivity of the fingerboard triggers isn\'t great, I just play my part, then go in and tweak the midi velocities in the piano roll of my sequencer..this is a work around...Not terribly natural but it works.

    Thanks for writing. Please share any cool techniques or Zone set-ups that you really like...I would love to try them out.

    Anybody else ztar crazy? [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img]

  5. #5

    Re: Ztar and Gigastudio

    I definitely dig my Ztar,

    I dont use ti all the time tho. Mostly for things I know I can \"grove out\" on the keyboard with.

    I never use it for percussion because of the velocity response. Its just too \"light\". We\'ve been so acustomed to playing heavy on a real guitar with strings we have to \"press down\" on that the Ztars jsut way too light for many guitar players I know. Atleast velocity on hammer-on/pull-offs, and without string triggers. I find the string triggers to be a bit touchy, but allow me alot more dynamic range in terms of velocity.

    I also go back to the Roland setup every so often, when I just need the \"feel\" of a real guitar.

    I have a custom Z6 with 6 knobs for CC control, String Triggers, a neck pressure strip, and keytriggers. As well as the \"joy stick\". Its totally tricked out. I\'ve got expression mapped to one of the knobs AND one of the key triggers so I can have the option of playing \"swells\" with the knob of using pressure on the key trigger (which needs a low threshold setting...maybe new software).

    i do the same with the mod wheel. In one \"patch\" on the Ztar I\'ve turned off the string triggers and set one of the knobs to be velocity control, this makes all the fret buttons send out a fixed velocity, this lets me do percussive crecendos with velocity mapped instruments.

    I\'m looking into the new software, and hopefully the curve scaling will help, if not, I\'m gonna build some patches in a program called \"building blocks\" that will give me some more freedome...but obviously will never give me more dynamic range in terms of velocity...since...if the buttons are too sensetive then there\'s nothign to be done. Maybe there jsut needs to be more resitance. Tighter springs or something. I could totally see that helping.

    anyhow, the ztar is awesome for helping me lay out ideas, and even adding some extra realism to parts.

    Its fantastic for rips and falls on horns and other brass. For strings and choir, with the right release settings you can get great soudns with glissandos/slides. It helps make \"movement\" from note to note that isn\'t like portamento. Obviously wider movment starts to get a little weird, but keeping within a few semitones sounds really nice.

  6. #6

    Re: Ztar and Gigastudio

    Great, guys. Thanks for sharing (that\'s what it\'s about here!)

    I\'m very relieved and excited to know there are at least two other guys here who know and own a ztar.

    Actually I\'ve been having a problem with the ztar.

    Do you guys ever have a situation where you lift your finger off of the fingerboard trigger and the open string sounds. For example I\'m playing on the 4th \'string\', 5th fret. After I take my finger off of the 5th fret trigger the open 4th string \'G\' sounds. In fact, it sounds everytime I take my finger off.
    I have not selected \'Open pull-off\'. And none of the other strings do it.

    So I curse the 4th string.

    Then two days later I come back and notice the problem has disappeared...only to be present in the 5th \'string\'.

    some days, everything is great. No wild open strings. Other days it comes back.

    I sent my Z-10 back to Harvey and he said he couldn\'t get the \'wild string\' situation to happen [img]images/icons/rolleyes.gif[/img] . So, i start to think it\'s a problem with the ztar and gigastudio.

    Have you run into this?

  7. #7

    Re: Ztar and Gigastudio

    Sorry Marty, can\'t help. I never use open strings or pulls, I only \'tap\'.

    Maybe the new software will help; if it ever sees the light of day. Harvey told me it would be available more than a year ago; still waiting: never mind.

    King, I fear you\'re right, I\'m sure the velocity issue is a mechanical issue and only a complete reqorking of the neck would sort it. Isuspect harvey will get around to it in time. I just hope that his market keeps growing and he can reap some fruit from his lone herculean endeavors.

    I always make a point of jumping into the midi guitar group on yahoo (they are a sceptical bunch) and \'selling\'.

  8. #8

    Re: Ztar and Gigastudio

    I haven\'t got too many setups that I use - each seems to keep changing, but one I like (it\'s simple and kind of helps with the velocity issues - for the tune in question at least) is I map frets 1-12 on all strings (in fourths) using the Malmsjo with a fixed (quite low) velocity.

    Then I map the rest of the frets using another piano (either Malmsjo again or Gigapiano) with a variable velocity.

    I use this with a Chopin prelude that has a pattern in the left hand that requires very soft and fast playing - the fixed velocity takes care of that; and even improves my own sloppiness. Then I can bash the chords in the right hand over it and the higher velocities don\'t harm the music. Sometimes it seems to be about finding the music that will \'fit\' best.

    Another (probably obvious one) is again a thing particular to the Ztar and it allows the player to access very wide ranges across a whole string section (something you couldn\'t really do on a keyboard except in a very artificial way; if at all). I use frets 1-12 to map 3 (or usually more)channels (perhaps 1st violins-1st string, 2nd violins-2nd string, violas-3rd string (and sometimes \'doubled\' on 4th string), cellos 5th and 6th strings, and double basses (transposed an octave) on the 6th string.

    This allows you to play the \'orchestra\' right from double basses to mid-range violin with the left hand (and use the right at higher frets), Of course, you can map the violins a little higher as well, or transpose to somewhere else as well.

    Then you have the rest of the instrument for other things; oboe/tuba/guitar - whatever you want using transposition mappings. I tend also to use multiple layers with different patches to add a little variety to the sound (e.g. some looped, some not, different velocities at different global volumes). It works very well, and adds a little \'randomness\' and naturalness without requiring anything outside just the playing. I haven\'t even used any pedals with this one yet, but presumably you could add crossfades/patch changes etc., with either the feet or pads (if you have pads).

    The pads, by the way, are wonderful. I love em. They respond pretty well as continuous controllers (I have six on the bog-standard Z6). The trigger bars aren\'t so good for that, but they\'re handy for assigning chords or percussion. I may get into a little techno; the Ztar seems well-suited for that.

    I haven\'t tried the BIG Ztar tuning yet (144 chromatic). I use fourths almost all the time - jeez it really makes playing the thing so much easier. Todd Keene (Ztar virtuoso) uses fifths, but it seems to make for a lot of stretches (he has a gigantic 12-string he put together himself).

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