A question has come up that I'd like to address here:
Our old friend Rick Geragi ("Rico"), a ZX Zendrummer for almost 10 years, recently got an LT and asked this question:
"What was the reasoning behind the layout of the Laptop as far as the placement positions and size of the buttons? For the ZX as well?"
In order to answer this question I had to go back and think about how Kim and I worked on this for several years, 1991-1993, handing our one Zendrum prototype back and forth between us for a week or so at a time. We had to play it in different group situations to work out some technique and amplification issues, the same issues every new Zendrum owner has to work out today.
Take a look at the history page first...that's the first ZX prototype.
In the original layout the colors indicate left/right hand sound assignments in my first mental picture.
The trick has always been to have the ride or hihat with snare to one side and kick to the other, for both hands. This makes a running 16th pattern simple as my hands naturally and ergonomically fall on complimentary things. That's what makes it so easy for me to "overplay" the kick drums without pedals, too. There was a video that the Silverman Brothers did ten years ago that illustrated this technique quite well. Their video inspired David Kuckherman to develop a similar technique that he now demonstrates in slow motion in his video on the Zendrum site Downloads Page. It's easy to see how this simple concept can be elaborated on when you add in basic rudiments with the fingers. Just a triplet with two fingers on one hand and one on the other can be endlessly varied upon and practiced to develop fluid, seamless, and effortless chops.
My sound layout for the ZX is represented as the General MIDI drum map on factory Set Up 15. That's how I've always laid the fingering out, even though I've done it with the Set Up 1 C pentatonic scale and assigned the corresponding sounds on the drum module side instead. This layout is what I usually ship ZX Zendrums defaulted to, for a starting point.
I can play a simple Kick/Snare/Ride pattern just by shading my right palm back and forth, or use first & second fingers on my left hand for Kick/snare and keep the 8ths with my right hand with slapping kick/w left/right crash accents. It seems like the looser I play, the better everything feels and I don't sound like a drum machine. THAT'S the point.
The only physical change in the ZX trigger layout was making four of the smaller triggers on the face large ones instead now...just less empty space on the face. I've always used those three triggers in a row as ride/bell/crash and shade my hand around to "manually" crossfade as one large "cymbal pad array".
The LT was the direct result of all the feedback that came from getting the ZX's out there over our first five years:
Can you make a leftie?
Can you make it more like a keyboard for melodic playing?
Can you make it fit more compactly in my percussion rig?
Can you make it sit next to my computer keyboard/mixing board/turntable?
Can you make it fit on a standard snare stand instead of the Gibraltar base with your custom stand top?
Can you make it fit inside the rails of a wheelchair and be more adaptable for physically challenged folks?
The answer to all these questions was YES, and the first production LT was made in 2000.
The physical size of the LT was determined by the standard wheelchair rails at 18" wide.
We knew that hardly anyone had ever used the external trigger input on the ZX, so on the LT that became the 25th, second octave high note trigger.
Putting the sustain button in the center allowed access with either hand.
The LT never had an on/off switch because there was no place to put it where you wouldn't accidentally turn it off. We discontinued the switch on the ZX when Chris deHaas started putting one on his battery boxes. We had had some problems on the early ZX's (before the rubber feet were added) with the switch getting "bumped" off when the instrument was set down. It's one less thing to worry about onstage now: when it's plugged in, it's on.
In the LT the space is as small as we could physically get the electronic components inside. The trigger size and spacing followed naturally and organically. We could have made them all small, but we felt it needed something to break into easily recognizable patterns that you could "feel" without looking. I apply my same left/right triad of kick/hat/snare on both wings of the LT. I use two triggers for each tom tom. That's the way most software is laid out anyway for playing drums on a keyboard and it lets the samples play through better than doubling MIDI notes.
I do not have my fingering layout as a default in the LT. Instead it is shipped defaulted to Set Up 1 C pentatonic scale.
So far, I'd say John Emrich has the most comprehensive technique going on the LT, wearing it with a strap for drumming and using it on a stand for melodics. Study his videos as well, both here on the Zendrum site Downloads Page and on the BFD site. He's also using FAT KAT pedals for both feet. He's another long-time Zendrummer like Rico, another one is Tom Roady, making this transition from ZX to LT. I'm sure like every other Zendrummer, each will come up with their own variations of technique and application, and layouts.
I hope this helps explain some of the thought processes that have gone into the development of the Zendrum so far.
Thank you all for asking the questions.