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Joe Muscara

Bringing back the classics

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I met a guy yesterday (let's call him John) who said that like another company that's been bringing back their classic keyboards, he would love to see Casio bring back some of their classics. We talked about the SK-1, but John was most interested in seeing the CZ series return. I did mention that there is a CZ iPad app, but that held no interest for him. He would like to see the CZ hardware come back. As he put it, "everyone is doing additive synthesis, but no one is doing distortion synthesis."

 

What do you think?

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Look at all the CZ listings on eBay-there is an interest in the older Casio CZ, FZ and VZ series. I'd owned a CZ-101, CZ-3000 and CZ-1 respectively plus several "EZ-CZ" and RA cartridges and had huge fun with these, did an immense amount of sound design with these, much easier to program than my SY-77 but then that may not be a fair comparison!  And the build quality was very nice-were on the heavy side, but built very solidly woth all that metal.

 

I'd like to see some kind of CZ with a 16-track sequencer, the new touchscreen and maybe a few of the XW or WK features. But then, the latest instruments are so feature-rich, the only thing missing is the phase distortion synthesis, and at least the XW has many of the PD waves from the CZ, which is also very cool, I don't know about the WKs and the Privias definitely do not. I recall the spring-action keyboards on the large CZs were pretty solid too. I'd bet if Casio came out with the original CZ models in some form, there would be some takers.

 

I'd also posted here, why Casio never followed through on their digital horns-these bring premium prices on eBay for the old models, and although a limited market-with many of the new players coming up, a decent priced wind controller would sell-I own 2 older Yamaha Wx controllers and had owned the original Casio when it first came out, then couldn't afford any used Casios I've seen, so went for the WX-11 and WX-7 Yamahas instead.

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didn't ask him if he would be happy with PD synthesis as part of a new model. That would be interesting. I wonder if Casio would do better with that than a standalone CZ. I don't know how the other company is doing with their classic reissues.

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I have been thinking about a CZ reissue a lot. I got into the CZ recently because I listen to a lot of Eastern European/Turkish/Arabic keyboard players. The CZ is still THE keyboard over there. Those guys still go nuts on the CZ. (check out Amza Tairov, for example) They even sell sample sets of CZ sounds for other keyboards and the sample sets costs more than a CZ on ebay! There are several reasons they like the CZ and I think these reasons are enough to justify reissuing the CZ in a modern form. For one, the sounds the CZ gets are really great for mimicing the nasally folk instruments of those regions. The way that solo lines clip/break-up in solo mode sound great on the CZ and I haven't found other keyboards that can easily get that effect. It's also relatively easy to program, especially with an iPad editor. But the hardware is also key to the keyboard's popularity. It's a good build, unlike most modern boards. But, more importantly, the placement of portamento, solo, and other controls, right on the left of the keyboard, next to the pitch wheel, make it easy for a soloist to quickly adjust sounds. These dudes only play the keyboard with their Right Hand. The Left hand is always on the pitchwheel which they are constantly using for vibrato and to get micro-tonal notes out of the keyboard. The touch of the pitchwheel on the CZ is great for achieving these expressions. I've tried the same moves on other keyboards' wheels and I have to say that the CZ is the best of the ones I've tried.

 

Now none of these features are terribly difficult to implement, yet for some reason Casio hasn't seen it in their financial interest to reissue the keyboard. I find this odd and I wonder what their thinking is. After all, the CZ is so popular over in that part of the world, despite all of the fancy and complicated Korg Oriental Arranger keyboards, etc. The problem is that the old stock of CZ's are deteriorating. Just search on ebay and you see that half of the CZ's up for sale at any given time have defects. These boards are not going to last forever... and then what are we going to do?

 

I bet that Casio could do a CZ reissue that

a. preserved all of the great features of the old boards, like the sounds, the way the 'solo' lines clip/break-up, and the placement of the left-hand controls

b. added simple new features that would appeal to the modern 'oriental'/balkan player, like on-board effects, the ability to stack more layers of sounds, the ability to cue up and play over drones/pads, micro-tonal scale tuning. If they really wanted to stretch they could include some physical modelling synthesis like the Korg Prophecy, the other sought-after keyboard of those regions.

c. included new features that would appeal to the modern EDM crowd, which Casio sees as their primary target market for keyboards. They already have a lot of these features in the XW series, so that would be easy for them, presumably.

d. had a better UI for editing than the old board, since modern buyers have no attention span.

 

What would suck is if they reissued the CZ and filled it with a bunch of home-hobbyist crap features or tried to muck it all up with the features of an arranger keyboard.

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