Artiphon Instrument 1 MIDI controller can be strummed, bowed or tapped

We first caught a glimpse of the Artiphon Instrument 1 MIDI controller a couple of years ago, when it was demoed as an iOS-friendly device. Now it's re-emerged in a different form on Kickstarter, and comes billed as a multi-instrument that can be strummed like a guitar, bowed like a violin, tapped liked a piano or used to play beats.

Compatible with both iOS and desktop platforms, Instrument 1 can be held any way you like and configured to suit the sound you're playing and your level of musical competence. An app enables you to 'design your own instrument' (with fretted strings, fretless strings or pads, for example) and the digital string technology is said to support the likes of hammer-ons and pull-offs.

The entire interface is pressure-sensitive and supports polyphonic aftertouch, and you can assign a different sound to each string. Tunings can be changed at will, and the device comes with a rechargeable battery and built-in speakers.

Available in three colours, the Artiphon Instrument 1 can potentially be yours for a pledge of $299 or more via Kickstarter (at the time of writing, it had already almost doubled its funding target). Check out the video above to see it in action.

Artiphon Instrument 1 main features

  • Play any instrument, style, and sound with a single device that connects directly to your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • Our patented multi-instrument technology transforms the INSTRUMENT 1 into a guitar, violin, bass, piano, drum machine... it's any instrument you want it to be.
  • Plug in and play 100's of apps like GarageBand with universal musical gestures: strumming, tapping, bowing, sliding, and more.
  • Digital string-like interface works with any MIDI-compatible software.
  • The unique ergonomic design can be held in multiple positions, and is fully ambidextrous.
  • Design new instruments and custom tunings via the Artiphon companion app.
  • It's compact, portable, durable, self-powered, and simple.
  • Designed and engineered in Nashville, TN.
Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.