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Artiphon Instrument One is here (Yeay)

6 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hi folks Thought I'd post my review here, No pics sorry.  The battery was dead on my phone at the time of arrival and I was too interested in playing that waiting for a charge or shooting.

The instrument came in two boxes.  Once for shipping and another which can be used as a case. It's a hard plastic / paper firmer than cardboard and also thinner with a handle.

Inside the box two usb cables (one mini to mini the other mini to standard)
And a wallwart power supply.  The charger has connector caps for different countries like Line 6.  The battery is internal and can run up to 6 hours for standard traditional midi playing.  It also has an 8th inch (mini headphone stereo out.

The instrument has no internal sounds.  It does have speakers and can be used as an external sound card to play out everything capable in your device (ios, android, mac, pc)  It's not especially loud but loud enough for living room, bedroom practicing.

Software is available for ios, mac and pc to define the patches/presets as it can operate in many modes.  That being said you don't need the preset editor if you just want to play.  Simply connect via usb to your device and it automatically installs and is recognized by your hosts.   After having numerous midi usb devices which were always a pain to set up the drivers this was a godsend.  Plugged it in, my computer installed the drivers seamlessly and off I went.  All of my hosts instantly recognized it as a midi in and audio out source.

Getting back to the Instrument One App Editor for a minute.  It's extremely easy to use even without instructions. https://artiphon.com/use-the-app/

While tilt synth works for mac it doesn't for pc 

Artiphon also supplies "staff picks" sounds that maximize the MPE features for both Mac and PC.  For PC you'll need the Kontakt Player (Yes the free one works just fine)  On with instrument one on pc's you use channels 2~7 to set up the mpe.  The kontakt player loads these staff picks accordingly.

About playing the instrument one.

If only they would include a strap rather than having to order it separately.  I just placed my order but they are on back order.  It does not have conventional strap buttons like on a guitar.  (that's my only caveat)

The instrument one is not intended to replace just a guitar.  It has a solid but not too heavy weight.  It can be played like a viola, a cello or upright bass a lap steel or flat on a surface like a grid/linnstrument instrument. The neck which has only 12 frets but a "capo" feature which can be used to transpose by half step or octave just beyond the 12 fret with up/down markers.

The feel of the neck has a fairly thick depth and flat back is thicker than my classical guitar but I'd wager about the same size feel as a full size classical guitar.  The fretboard radius is about 10.5.  You'll prolly need to bone up on your classical approach to fully appreciate it as a guitar..  Wrist parallel to the  fretboard with your thumb centered in the middle of the back. (not wrapped around.  The scale length is quite long. Comparing it to my 25.5 tele from the nut the 12th fret on the instrument one lands on the 15th fret of the tele. You're not going to be doing Paul Gilbert wide stretches on this nor are you likely to be doing stretch Johnny Smith or Ted Greene type chords.  The fret spacing is not logarithmic they are equal much like a "button" ztar but wider apart. That being said me having smaller hands (5'6") had no problems with conventional barre chords and though it was a little bit of a reach out of my comfort zone I as able to stretch to five fret scaling.  The "strings" are equal in lhickness and are a rubberized material.  Much like a baby z (yep that's me)

However remember the neck is considerably wider and thicker.  The strings are slightly wider and higher than a YouRock. Which makes them more comfortable for hammerons pull offs, barring chords.  Between the string spacing, scale length neck width this can be a godsend for those with larger hands having to deal with open chords or barring/scaling above the 7th fret.  Regardless of your hand size you will need to be prepared to make adaptions to technique.  It takes considerably less time then on other non-guitar midi guitar designed instruments. Also remember it's not intended to be solely for guitar player and guitar technique.

About the "Bridge" string triggers.  They are hard plastic not rubberized between the string spacing and the hardness of the downward push it's not ideal for my Knock and roll technique on a babyz
Trust me I was hurting trying to pull that off on the instrument one.

They are also not ideal for classical finger style technique as they are not wide enough. they do have lateral (side to side) flexibility. Which does allow for a wider variety of techniques  and expression (like alternate picking)  this up/down as it were flexible tension makes it ideal for flat picking (though requires some time for adaption.

With regards to desktop performance.  If you are totally into grid feel you will not like the nurbs that are the strings.  That being said if you've ever played a dobro, pedal steel or simply laid a guitar flat and tried to tap on it this is the one.  For years and years I've tried to play both of my ztars (babyz and z6) in a laid down position either on my lap or on a desk. No matter what it was impossible to balance properly.  That was my great hope with the linnstrument.  Something that I could lay flat and play.  The instrument one due to it's flat back neck design smaller shape and unique "desktop" "headstock" allow it to sit comfortably in ones lap, on the floor or on a desk/table.  I've actually spent very little time with tabletop/lap positioning and am becoming quite accustomed to the approach.  No it's not a linnstrument.  In some ways on a tabletop it's easier to negotiate.  Although I wish there were fret markers visible on the top.

All in all I'm loving it.  Though I have to say... not comming from a mandolin / uke background I'm not enjoying supporting the neck/body with my fretting hand while trying to pick and brace the instrument with my body and hand.

Edited by TapperMike

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Very engaging review Mike. Glad its going well. I checked out some of your links (Ztar etc) too. Fine examples!

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Thanks Rudi

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On 15/06/2017 at 5:31 PM, TapperMike said:

All in all I'm loving it.  Though I have to say... not comming from a mandolin / uke background I'm not enjoying supporting the neck/body with my fretting hand while trying to pick and brace the instrument with my body and hand.


Guitar ergonomics are often overlooked & unappreciated. I think it likely Les Paul was more concerned with that when he put chambered wings onto the log.


On 15/06/2017 at 5:31 PM, TapperMike said:

The instrument has no internal sounds.


SO this is a MIDI device that needs your sounds. Does it modulate the sounds? Pressure sensitive? Pitch bend?

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Yes,  it actually has mpe of all things.


Pitch bend can be facilitated via pressure to the strings if you are in "strum" mode.  If you are in "tap" or strum mode you can make it fretless for slides.  The "bridge" buttons can work either as pressure and or velocity and there is a tilt mode which just means changing the way you hold it affects other things.  


MPE in the Instrument One uses 6 channels which is more than enough.  the Linnstrument can use up to 16 (same as the roli seaboard)

MPE is hard to explain.  Perhaps a video


MPE puts technique back into both your hands rather than reaching for a knob.

MPE stands for "Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression"

It means you can slide or add vibrato (along with other techniques) to one note without it affecting the rest of the notes like in conventional midi.  Velocity, Pressure, slide/bend and modulation is all in your finger and the board reacts accordingly to each note separately.


MPE is native with current mac software.  It's not with PC's but it can be set up in daws/hosts with pc's it's just a lot of work.  MPE requires special surfaces to operate at it's best.


It's only been two days now and I'm having a time and half adjusting to it still.  I need to adjust the sensitivity as right now it requires much more force than I'm used to playing with.  And I'm still fine tuning my technique.  I'm getting very comfortable with it as a tabletop grid type of controller (like the linnstrument) and I'm starting to come around to pedal steel technique 



Not there yet playing it as a regular guitar.

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that's an impressive piece of kit.

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