Gave Up and Scrapped My Instrument 1


After trying to use my Instrument 1 (I1) for a dozen or so hours during several months, I gave up and sold it on eBay during November for $182. But unfortunately, the buyer was apparently also trying to use it as a guitar, also found it to be unuseable, and demanded a refund. Not wanting to pay for additional shipping to another buyer who might also demand a refund, I decided to cut my losses and told the buyer to scrap it.

I had watched all of the videos and tried all of the settings, but concluded that whatever hardware the I1 uses for sensors in the fretboard and the strumming buttons is simply not good enough music performance, regardless of how they are tweaked in software. There is little predictable correlation between how you push and the sound you get, or don’t get. The fact that like-new units are selling on eBay for less than half the original price suggests that many others have come to the same conclusion.

The I1 might be useful for musicians who want to lay it down flat and tap on the frets, as you see in almost all of the Artiphon videos. But, as a string instrument, the I1 is not.

I hope that other prospective I1 users find this post to be useful, and wish Artiphon well in designing better sensor hardware into their next product.


Thanks for checking in, and so sorry it didn’t work out for you. This is so much the opposite of my own experience that I wonder whether you had a defective model; I remain completely blown away by the I1 fingerboard, which is just fantastically responsive and expressive, and wouldn’t change a thing about it. The bridge triggers are another matter, and I’d be the first to agree that they’re fairly unplayable with any kind of sensitivity or speed. (But then why would you want to, when the I1 lets you play faster with half the hands…?)

I think your unhappy eBay experience may actually the significant takeaway here: the I1 is a fantastic instrument for guitarists, but it’s very much not a guitar, and anyone looking simply for a MIDI guitar they can play the way they’re used to playing their physical guitar is looking at the wrong product. The fingerboard is actually a guitarist’s dream and beautifully calibrated, but it’s fundamentally a tap instrument, not a picked one, and I used to think of the bridge triggers rather unkindly as training wheels, though I’ve come to appreciate their versatility as multipurpose MPE touch controllers you can push like a button or wiggle like a joystick.

Anyway, good luck with future musical explorations, and sorry you ended up both Artiphonless and out of pocket. If there were an easy way to explain to people like your buyer what the I1 is and isn’t, Artiphon would already have thought of it, but I feel your pain!


That means the Instrument 1 is not so well-suited for strumming? Strumming is basically what I want the Instrument 1 for, as I can‘t replicate the same rhythmic playing approach that I achieve on a guitar by tapping on the fretboard. I understand that I can‘t expect just a 1:1 imitation of a guitar, but If I can‘t strum on that device, then it becomes 100% pointless for me.

I was on the verge of buying an Instrument 1 already, but „conveniently“ broke my arm, thus extending my evaluation window by a couple of months. :wink: I thought that could also give me time to perhaps find a cheap new one, so I wish that I could find those „like new for half price“ listings on eBay that Jerry referred to. :neutral_face:


No, strumming works well; it’s only picking that requires a greater level of fine control than the bridge triggers can really provide. If all you want to do is strum across the strings, it’s fine. Fingers are better than a pick; though the rubber is pretty durable and the triggers continue to work perfectly even when slightly worn. If you do want to play melody lines, it works so well as a tap instrument that there’s no point bothering with the bridge triggers anyway. (And if it’s your strumming arm that’s broken, you can still play beautifully with your other hand solo!)


Yes, I kind of agree with Nick’s comment about strumming. I did use it for strumming once for a rehearsal session, and although I could not get anywhere near the dynamics you can get with real strings, it was useable for a rehearsal. It was later, after several attempts to play some bass, picking individual strings, when I realized the Instrument 1 was definitely not suited to this purpose of being my handy, portable bass, which was unfortunately the main reason I bought it.


It’s probably not your thing as someone coming from a real bass, but as a non-bassist I do really like the I1 in tap mode with a good MPE bass sample. The Double Bass and Bow patch in Seaboard 5D and Noise (or Equator or ROLI Studio Player on desktop) is my favourite; in Noise, which needs to be hosted as an AUv3 to be used with the I1, it’s part of the Hybrid Acoustic IAP, and I imagine – but can’t now remember whether – it’s the same in Seaboard). Noise is a bit better than Seaboard if you have the choice because it maps the I1 tilt to ROLI’s Slide dimension without additional MIDI munging.

iFretless Bass is also pretty good by iOS MPE rompler standards, though the otherwise good Slap Bass patch has a rather obtrusive layer transition that changes its timbre noticeably across the range. With iFretless you’ll probably want to pitch the MIDI an octave down, either on the I1 or in the iFretless Bass settings.


I’ve been feeling like I’m in a similar boat; I really want this to work because I’ve seen some folks using it the way I’d like to use it, but I can’t make it work.

Maybe it’s my settings? Maybe it’s a defective instrument? Here’s what I recorded in Instagram to show what’s happening.

I knew there would be a learning curve, but I have put time in, and it’s just not responding in the way I need it to respond to use it live. I am guessing that the folks playing it in the way I like, are using it to record and then quantizing the rhythms and the shooting the video separately.

I may keep it to use in recordings, but I’m thinking of selling it to someone who might get more use out if it in that setting. Unless there is actually something wrong with mine…


That’s interesting to see; yours does seem to be markedly less responsive than mine in that test. You’re a far better guitarist than me, but I find the I1 very forgiving and easy to play fast runs on (though only in tap mode, obviously).

Looking at my fingers, I see I tend to put the first finger right behind the fret – I think this is probably just the usual way guitarists find position by touch – and my little finger more or less dead in the middle between its frets, with the second and third finger proportionately between the two spacings – unlike on a classical neck, where all fingers are directly behind the fret in the usual way. But the I1 seems happy with the variation, and mistriggers are rare. How do you find yours with playing trills in tap mode with the first and second finger on adjacent frets? Does it drop notes? (Mine does if I play badly, but I can tell it’s my fault.)


This was my experience to and I definitely thought about getting rid of it after 24 hours. But I tried it again the next day and tried some different settings in tap mode.
And quite accidentally I stumbled across a setting which works 99% of the time.
Playing fast, playing slow bowing notes everything that’s in all the videos that I thought were BS I’ve been able to do. I’ve achieved almost 100% synchronicity with the instrument.
So far I’ve only been able to do this with the iPad and the Moog model D and audio kit Synth One.
I haven’t got this dialed in yet with my Mac however I think I will be able to do it.
I was using the keyboard setting the third preset on the button push, in “tap” mode. It blew my mind so much I just couldn’t put it down the great thing is I was able to replicate it every day since my discovery.
Never got the Strum mode to work correctly I had a little bit more luck with Bowing,
In the keyboard mode I was able to when I needed to push the buttons on the bridge occasionally for really fast 32nd notes and that worked out great but the rest of the time I was “tapping“.
Before I discovered it I thought that I had been duped and that the I1 was a toy.
So the next thing I have to work out is, trying to get the same functionality with my Mac.
Good luck!