Instrument1 Design Feedback


I echo many of these sentiments. The multiple cables and adapters is a frustrating aspect of this device. USB mini or USB A anything honestly, but one “pro” of having an alternative power point is allowing the device to be in play with no concern of the battery dying during jams, long recording sessions, programming, tinkering, practice, etc. being a wall wart is not conducive to live performance or causal playing in most environments outside of studio or practice though.

The audio slave was the biggest oversight in the entire design. Violin mode with a speaker blasting directly into your ear? Um no thanks. At least give us a stereo option to select the left or right speaker in mono so we can use the bottom speaker in guitar mode and the top speaker in violin mode OR CHOOSE to use both. No bluetooth midi, no bluetooth audio, no ability to disable the I1 speakers override for use with bluetooth speakers on iPad or iPhone, and no wireless ecosystem integration really dated this brand new product, which is sort of disappointing.

The neck feel was not great either. It is very square and rigid instead of a smooth c shape. The fretboard would have felt much better as a smooth nylon as opposed to a sticky rubber that makes slides, vibrato and chording more difficult than it has to be. Too wide with the added plastic edges, although the fretboard width is pretty close to my classical guitars. No gradiated scale on frets or compound radius make it feel clunky, unnatural and annoying. Functionality of pressure control is decent. The accelerometer is not very noticeable in the stock app and has limited functionality by way of the stock programming.i haven’t tried to apply it to DAW or created custom scripts for it yet, however, I will be testing it extensively and posting up some options for other users. I’m only targeting Reason, Ableton, and Mixcraft at this time.

The community forums are dead. I see a lot if people selling these off, complaining about how hard it was to learn or lack of ease of use. I’m sort of disappointed in that. I think we could do better to learn from one another and teach each other, but I understand that some people lack the drive or time to do it. This should be booming, inspiring people, showing the devices off or something. I know lots of people have these, but Where are they? No one is showing how they use it?!?!?!? Whyyy?

The custom strap and case feel like a money grab. Cheaply made, overpriced, and exclusive proprietary stuff. Whack! No expandable app sound library is whack. The stock sounds are very campy and offer little customization. Sure I bought some other apps and have DAWs and plugins to fuck around with, but that’s not fair to people who don’t have access to an 8TB soundware library.

I agree with the comment about 1/4" jack. 1/8" jack adapts are far too sensitive to risk snapping off inside the unit. Headphone adapters are cheap enough to justify a stock 1/4" output for professional studio and professional headphones use. It really is just standard at this point. Power button and mode buttons are in bad places or just too easily depressed. Weak springs maybe? Idk

The visual feedback on battery power would be really nice. Less stress in professional environments. This isn’t marketed as a toy, but honestly many aspects make it feel like a cheaply made and overly priced toy. If you want guitars, violinists or pianists to take this seriously then build it well. A $460 guitar, violin or midi keyboard feels and plays like $460 value.

I think the concept is great, bu is execution is not so great in some areas.

There are many positives about this device as well. Hoping the company does not fall into obscurity as many other kickstarted companies have done in the past. Stay active, keep building, keep making neat inventions, and keep the conversation going.


Lots of great feedback there, and great to hear from a studio user (which I’m very much not)! I can’t help much with the Windows or Bluetooth side, though I did briefly try Bluetooth output and had no more joy than you – though in practice latency issues may make it a non-starter anyway. Particularly interesting about the speakers in violin mode – not being a fiddler myself, I haven’t really any useful experience or insight to offer, but a speaker under the chin shouldn’t in principle be any different from a violin under the chin, and it may be that small adjustments in playing position make a big difference to the ergonomics.

If it’s any small encouragement, I had some of the same initial reactions to the neck design and feel, but found that I got very quickly used to it and now wouldn’t change a thing, including the wide (but regular) fingerboard spacing, which is quite easy to adapt to with a bit of noodling in front of the TV. If you’re coming from a held instrument, it takes a while to appreciate the value of being able to lay it down flat and play it like a keyboard, and it’s true that it’s as an outrageously expressive and customisable tap guitar that it really shines as a genuine all-levels beginner-to-virtuoso instrument, while keyboard players in particular have to work much harder to adapt their existing technique to the versatile but very different cognitive and muscle-memory surface. In the usual way with Swiss Army knives, it’s not always the best tool for a particular job, but it’s brilliant at some and good enough at others.

For what it’s worth, you don’t have to go with Artiphon’s own strap and case – you can get a much cheaper third-party case from, and any standard guitar strap can be attached with a cord – though I personally do like the Artiphon versions, and don’t at all myself regret stumping up for them. The instrument itself has proved impressively resistant to a lot of fairly abusive playing and manhandling over the eight months I’ve had it, and I’d personally find a wider palette of in-app sounds fairly pointless when there’s so much amazing stuff available (much of it for free or small change) in third-party apps.

I don’t mind the 1/8" jack (adaptors are cheap), but I do agree the ports and buttons aren’t ideally designed and placed if you’re holding the instrument guitar-style; I always use an angled mini-USB cable rather than the supplied stick-out one, and I make sure to tape an SD card over the power button when travelling. I do agree a more fine-grained battery level indicator would be nice, but full battery charge still lasts enough hours to surprise me. As for the wires, I find I don’t really notice them any more; it still seems amazing to me that you can just plop an iPod Touch in your shirt pocket and run LayR off something a fraction the size of a MIDI guitar and far more controllably expressive.

It may be worth posting to on some of the specific technical issues you’ve been mentioning (though I expect quite a lot of people here would be interested in the solutions). And above all, welcome! You’re right that it’s been a bit quiet on the user side lately, and it’s great to have a fresh voice in the conversation.


Where did you get that angled chord?


I got my up angle one at Newegg. Do a search on mini usb up angle, or right angle, or left angle. If you want a cable that angles down away from everything, get the up angle one. That’s because the mini USB connection to the I1 is upside down (like many others).


I got mine from Amazon. (You’ll need the Apple “Camera Connection Kit” USB-to-Lightning adaptor to connect to an iOS device.) Left-, right-, and up-angle options all have their particular pros and cons; see this thread, where the first photo shows a left-angle cable, not right-angle as captioned. Bob favours up-angle, which doesn’t block any ports; I like left-angle, except that it does block the charger port. (The power button is still accessible, and even a bit more protected against bumps.)


There are 3rd party USB to Lightning adapters for significantly less than Apple charges. I picked up one on eBay and it works. Of course it was less than $2 so if it didn’t work I wasn’t out much.


Heck ya man; I actually was hoping there
Was something like that but hadn’t looked


Maybe get the official camera connection kit. I just tried the one I got from eBay and it doesn’t work. Strange because it did when I first got it. It’s possible that an iOS update made sure that it was an official adapter. ah well, as I said, I’m only out $2.


I just got this device. There are elements of the instrument I like, but I’m probably going to return it because of some serious issues with the design.

As said before, the fretboard is too wide. It feels like a “jack of all trades master of none” situation, where in an effort to include piano functionality, it becomes worse at being a guitar, which is the unique thing about it and the reason I got it. If you want a piano controller, they’re plentiful, cheap, and have bigger keys. The piano functionality is not thing that’s getting people to drop $400 on this device specifically. Committing to exclusively stringed or pad control modes would provide some much needed design focus.

It needs either bluetooth or a clip for holding a phone onboard. Being tethered to wire is lame.

Many of the buttons are too easy to accidentally push.

The strap situation is really silly. I ended up tying one of my existing straps to the mounts so it’s useable at all, but it’s not great. There’s no reason not to conform to the industry standard.

Beyond all of that, my most serious complaint is the strumming area. It’s just bad. Standard plastic picks don’t seem to produce a tone from all the nubs consistently, and make a godawful scraping noise, which is an issue when playing acoustic live. Strumming with your fingers feels awkward because the little nubs don’t physically behave at all like a string when struck, and you need a lot of force to get them all to consistently register. They’re also grippy rubber, which is a weird choice for something you’re supposed to be dragging your fingers against them. It doesn’t feel like strumming, and the muscle memory doesn’t carry over well.

This would be a much better product if it used physical strings for the strumming section, so that it played more like a traditional guitar.

I also seem to have a bug where even with hammer-ons fully disabled, I still get strings playing sporadically while switching chords between strums, which makes me think there’s some noise in the touch detection of the strumming section. Also can’t get palm muting to work reliably, for what it’s worth.

On the whole, I really like the “virtualize a guitar” concept, but the implementation has a ton of rough edges that make it unsatisfying to actually use. Going to keep messing with it for a few more days, and see if I adjust to it. If not, I’ll likely return it and get a midi guitar with physical strings (whichever brand ships a 10+ fret version first).


Hey Andre,

Thanks for your honest and thoughtful design feedback. It’s tremendously appreciated. I hear your point about the design feeling like a “jack-of-all-trades” compromise, especially given that the instrument’s physical form most clearly implies ‘guitar’. Although significant elements of guitar playing will immediately translate to the INSTRUMENT 1, it’s ultimately still a beast of its own and can take some getting used to. With that said, there are ways of customizing the INSTRUMENT 1 so that it responds in a way that reflects a user’s unique playing style.

Have you tried experimenting with the Method Sensitivity settings in the Artiphon iOS/Desktop editor? This can open up the instrument’s responsiveness in useful ways.

You mentioned that Hammer-Ons don’t seem to be fully disabled. I’d be interested in hearing a bit more about this. When you have the Hammer-On setting set to ‘Off’ and you try tapping on the fingerboard (specifically avoiding the bridge triggers) you shouldn’t be hearing any notes. Is that not the case? Sometimes the bridge triggers can trigger notes with slight sustained pressure, even in the strum method. Adjusting the Method Sensitivity to the lowest level can help with that.

Again, I really do appreciate your feedback. This stuff definitely gets funneled back to the Artiphon team.

Let me know if you have any questions at all while you’re trying out the INSTRUMENT 1. We keep tabs on the forum and respond to all questions at as well.



Yes, a lot of guitarists (myself included) have a similar initial reaction on first picking it up, though you’ll be surprised how quickly your basic guitar skills adjust to things like the fretboard width. I found the only one of these that bothered me after the first few days was the bridge triggers, which are best thought of as a crutch for guitarists to help them transition from a physical instrument to the more optimised ways of guitaristic playing that the I1 embodies.

The guitar fingerboard is probably the most compact, elegant, efficient cognitive space ever invented for human hands to develop a touch-based musical intuition and expression. But a physical guitar is a fairly compromised implementation of these affordances, with its uneven fret spacing and insistence on needing two hands in tight coordination just to produce a sound at all. What the I1 does is to liberate all the skills you’ve developed as a guitarist, particularly in the left hand, in the service of what in all kinds of ways is actually a more natural, fluid, expressive, and versatile musicality. That’s not to say it’s for everyone, particularly if what you’re after is a close emulation of a physical guitar. But while you’ve got it in your hands, here are some things to try to see if it’s going to be for you.

  1. Forget about the bridge triggers entirely (though they’ll have their uses further down the line). Instead, explore the I1 primarily in tap mode, which is where it takes your existing skills and weaponises them. It can initially feel weird that your picking hand hasn’t got anything to do, but that’s one of the ways in which it’s freed you up.

  2. If you’re on iOS, download the free Tonebridge app, route the I1 Tap Guitar preset through your choice of patch with pitch bend on in the Artiphon app, and play around with the standard blues pentatonic scales. (Here are the diagrams from Fred Sokolow’s Fretboard Roadmaps: Blues for anyone else who wants to give this a try.)

    Note bending on the I1 is phenomenally expressive and rewarding, but it’s a different action from what you’re used to on physical strings – easier, but takes a bit of practice to get an intuitive feel for.

  3. Take the opportunity to explore the MPE functionality, particularly with fretless slides in MPE-capable apps (especially synths, but ThumbJam’s famous cello responds very beautifully).

  4. With the Grid Guitar preset, try playing multiple notes on the same string – holding chords with the left hand, for example, while tapping melody notes with the right. (Full barre chords don’t really work, but half-barres are fine; it’s a good way to get a feel for the kinds of part-barre fingerings especially beloved of jazz guitarists.)

  5. When exploring the I1 as a controller for synth patches:

  • enable and play around with mod wheel accelerometer tilt;
  • try dropping the bottom two strings an octave;
  • experiment with using the bridge triggers to play bass notes and drones.
  1. If you’re thinking of returning it, best to put the pick away now; it’s just going to damage the bridge triggers, and then you’ll be stuck with it. You’re completely right that the bridge triggers are unplayable with a pick, and if this is a dealbreaker for you then you’re much better off with physical strings. (But don’t be tempted by a Jamstik or YouRock if you find the I1’s limitations frustrating. It might be worth waiting and seeing how the Jammy pans out, as shipping is fairly imminent on that.)


I spent some more time with the software today, and I think part of the problem was that I hadn’t updated the firmware on the device. Post update, it seems to have resolved the hammer-on problem. I can no longer produce sounds from it with hammer-ons disabled without touching the strum area.

Turning up the method sensitivity helps with strumming, although I still can’t get picks to work. You can sort of do a finger and thumb claw posture that works okay for back and forth strumming, where you’re striking with the pads of your finger in both directions. I maintain it could be more natural, but it’s useable.

Is there any way to adjust the fretboard sensitivity or calibrate it? Now that I can actually play it a little bit, I’m noticing that the amount of pressure required to get some of the low strings to consistently ring out is pretty high.



Just saw your post. I’ll try the tap mode and see how I like it. Now that I’ve got it to a playable place, I’m gonna give the I1 a week, I think and see how it feels a little further into the learning curve.

The Jammy is what I was looking at, but didn’t want to name names, because it feels rude to be discussing the merits of competing products on the forums. Running startups is hard, and these guys are clearly making a genuine effort, which I respect.

Mainly what I’m looking to get out of a guitar-style MIDI controllers is that I’d like to be able to play guitar the way I already enjoy doing, but have a lot of control (potentially including writing my own MIDI software) over how the notes sound, without having to accumulate a ton of different instruments. The thing the I1 is trying to do may be too orthogonal to that to be useful to me. But we’ll see.


Hi, I’m new to the I1 (already learned the abbreviated lingo, though!), got it two days ago and have been enjoying noodling around on it in between things that I can’t put off until later (my car insurance isn’t due for another four days so that can wait while I’m enjoying myself…!)

As guitar is what I’d call my primary instrument that’s the tuning I’m using the most and, being a player that has used a LOT of legato techniques for years I’m finding the tap method to be my favourite.

Plus I like to fool myself into thinking I look cool, playing with one hand while sipping a beverage with the other. Don’t ruin this illusion I’ve constructed for myself, yeah?

Anyway, one thing I’d really like is to have a “pull-off to open” option.

Often, if I’m down at the bottom of the fretboard and playing a line, out of habit, I will pull off a string to an open note and, of course, am met with silence.

I know this may be difficult to do without risking ghost notes when changing fingerings but if it’s possible it’d be really handy.

Other than that I’m having a great time fooling the neighbours into thinking I’ve miraculously become really handy at jazz vibes playing overnight!!


Hey DrawmyFoot
About the open note pull off thing, you can sort of do it using the bridge. In fretless(tap) mode each bridge pin becomes an open note. Try holding one down and hammering a note above it on the same string. Surprisingly intuitive after a while. If they were on all the time they’d always be ringing when you don’t want them to…YMMV.


Hey there Terry, thanks for your answer.

Yeah, I’ve been playing around with that feature and in some instances it’s absolutely fine but I’m often playing with both hands on the fretboard, kind of like Joe Satriani does (did?), with one hand playing bass notes or chords and the other either expanding the chord or playing a melody, so getting back to the bridge to hit that open note is tricky to say the least.

Also, doing that would necessitate me putting down my beverage that’s occasionally in the other hand…! :wink:

I was hoping that the I1 could be made able to recognise a pull-off motion and ring the open note until cancelled by the next fingering, if that makes sense?

I know it’s a tall, tall order and don’t get me wrong; it’s by no means a deal breaker, but if you don’t ask then you definitely don’t get! If it’s impossible it’s all good; I’m enjoying having to adjust my playing to suit the I1, it’s a fun challenge.

Appreciate the feedback, though.


I’ll give my 2 cents here… I don’t even own a I1 but it would be great to have a MIDI output as well… I know most people don’t have an audio card able to receive MIDI cables but some of us do .

I’m not an experts but I think it could maybe even solve the problem with windows users not being able to use the editor and another program that uses midi


i love my i1 so much especially as a lefty and we’re usually left out of the midi guitar conversation!
dreams (possibly unreasonable) for a v2 are:
bus power/charging! (could do without the speakers to make it more possible)
foot switch jack
usb c
bluetooth LE
more “responsive” bridge string nubs
better feeling fretboard (like roli semisquishy material would be amazing)
full access to slots for custom presets
bridge knobs!! (or kmi style sliders)