- Anne Beetem Acker
Maker of MIDI controllers founded by the musician and engineer Harvey Starr in San Diego, California, in 1986. The company was initially known as the Starr Switch Co., which provided electronic and mechanical component prototypes for other firms. Since 1994 the firm has specialized in MIDI controllers; its name was changed to Starr Labs in 1996. Their best-known original product is the Ztar, introduced in 1991, a guitar-shaped controller with key-based MIDI inputs. The Ztar has long narrow buttons arranged in rows and columns on its neck to correspond to the frets and six strings, respectively, of a guitar. Early Ztars had an array of six pressure- and velocity-sensitive sensors (trigger pads) for the right hand, plus a customizable choice of larger trigger pad areas for drums. Later Ztars offer an option of using six short lengths of guitar string material for right hand triggering or an array of pressure- and velocity-sensitive buttons. In ‘basic guitar’ mode these strings generate no pitch information alone, instead sending the MIDI message that a note is active, plus a velocity reading, while the left hand usually controls the pitch selection. Other modes allow the strings to send chords, trigger sequences, or other messages, such as controlling crossfade between voices. Various optional sensors and controls can be added, including sustain and volume pedals. An LCD with eight softkeys is located on the upper edge of the body for changing and displaying settings. Configurations of settings can be saved for rapid access in live performance. As of ...