After tempting us with some candid studio shots last December, followed by some attention-grabbing showcasing at CES 2013 and NAMM, Artiphon has revealed that its Instrument 1 will shortly be available to buy. The professional-grade instrument leverages the processing power of a docked iPhone or iPod touch running digital music creation and recording apps, such as GarageBand or Animoog. It allows existing guitarists or piano players to use familiar playing styles in a new way, while ushering in a whole new wave of digital music noodlers.
The Instrument 1 can be attached to a guitar strap and picked or strummed like a rather short six-string shooter, laid flat across the knees and played like a piano, tapped like a set of table drums, or tucked under the chin and bowed like a violin. A microphone input means you can add vocals to your creations, and an included headphone jack lets you decide whether to go public through the onboard BMR speakers (100 Hz - 20 kHz frequency range) and 30-watt, Class-D amp combination, or go private with your favorite set of cans or buds.
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On one side of the central dock is a velocity-sensitive strum or pick section that has the look of a covered guitar pickup with added ridges, and allows for expressive and dynamic playing. On the other sits a touch-sensitive fingerboard with fret-like markings and tactile position markers. Touch controls along the inner handle edge are used to set the behavior of the strum section and fretboard interfaces. The device will ship with preset configurations, but can be customized by the user.
Though the Instrument 1 has been designed to accommodate the iPhone and iPod touch, according to Artiphon's Jacob Gordon, its included MIDI in/out means that it will "function as a universal MIDI controller and can be connected directly to any MIDI synthesizer, to a digital audio workstation on Mac or PC, and can interface with any Android equipment through wired MIDI connections."
Also within the ergonomic body (fashioned from sustainably-harvested hardwoods and bamboo) is a Li-ion battery that's reported good for between six and ten hours between charges, so the Instrument 1 doesn't suck vampire-like at your iPhone's power pack. Should you find yourself near a wall outlet, however, there's an AC power input, too.
Artiphon has now opened up reservations for the first batch of hand-built, limited production models. A deposit of US$10 is enough to place your marker on the waiting list. In exchange, you'll get a letter-pressed card sent to you sporting a reservation code. When the Instrument 1 is made available to buy, you'll be the first to know and your code will get you $20 off the purchase price of $799.
The Artiphon team will be at the summer NAMM in Nashville (July 11 - 13) if you want to see what all the fuss is about before parting with your cash ... or you could just watch the video below showing company founder and Instrument 1 inventor Mike Butera demonstrating the device.