November 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Artiphon: Super-Interesting, Pricey iPhone Instrument

Artiphone Instrument 1 holds an iPhone, where the virtual instrument and recording apps live, which Instrument 1 can control.

We only have the following, fleeting images of the Artiphon Instrument 1, but we’re intrigued. This deluxe, sub-$1,000, wood-crafted musical instrument will accept an iPhone, just like the awesome gTar learning/gaming guitar.

The Artiphon Instrument 1 has fretboard and strum interfaces, multiple instruments, and the ability to record them all. Supposedly, anyone can use this instrument, which looks way more high-end than any iPhone instrument we’ve seen before — like, classical-instrument high-end, although it houses an iPhone.

The below description has us all kinds of excited, as does the fact that it looks like something Steve Jobs and Antonio Stradivarius would have designed while high (see gallery). You can hold it as a guitar, violin, mandolin, laptop steel guitar, or upright bass, and use it to multitrack multiple instruments, with MIDI, USB, and audio connections. And it’s made out of instrument-grade hardwood.

Artiphon contacted to tease us about this intriguing new device, which will work with all manner of CoreMIDI-compatible music apps. We are excited to take a test drive if we can.

Until then, we will refrain from effusing about that which we cannot know, as tempting as it is to say that this thing is going to be amazing, and instead will stick with these, the first and only publicly-released images of the Artiphon 1, plus the official description:

And from the announcement (our emphases),

“The Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1 is an entirely new kind of musical device. Musicians of all styles and abilities can now interact with iOS music apps beyond the screen, enabling novel expressive possibilities for performance, recording, and just playing around. The virtual fretboard and strum interfaces are force sensitive and tactile, offering the kind of powerful control over subtle dynamics that defines every great musical instrument.

“The INSTRUMENT 1 extends the functionality of hundreds of apps and allows for extraordinary flexibility in a single device. Songwriters can compose several parts and layer multitrack recordings, right within the instrument itself. Performers can now move freely around the stage with more expressiveness and versatile connectivity. And students can learn multiple instruments at once with a revolutionary ergonomic design and instrument-switching capability.

“The body of the INSTRUMENT 1 is inspired by the fluid forms of traditional stringed instruments and is precision-cut from heirloom-quality hardwood in Nashville, TN. It can be held in multiple familiar positions–from guitar and fiddle to lap steel and upright bass. Stereo speakers project rich, studio-quality sound, and its varied inputs and outputs let it play nicely with a wide range of professional equipment.

“With a team of pro-audio and consumer electronics experts and two years of iterative development, the design of the INSTRUMENT 1 has gone through multiple functional prototypes and extended testing with musicians. The final prototype is nearly complete and production of the first units will begin in early 2013. The images distributed here are teasers to attract initial customer interest and gesture toward the possibilities of this new category of sonic device. More images and details will be released as the pre-order date nears.

  • Compatible with any CoreMIDI-enabled iOS app and thousands of audio apps.
  • Patent-pending force-sensitive interface with six virtual frets and strings, and a strum section inspired by single-coil guitar pickups.
  • Accommodates five playing positions: guitar, mandolin, bass, violin, & lap steel.
  • High-quality onboard connections for headphones, microphone, ¼-inch stereo instrument cable, and MIDI in/out, and USB.
  • Controls for volume, instrument modes, and octave switching.
  • Rechargeable internal battery and 12v power input.
  • Integrated high-fidelity stereo speakers and a 30-watt, class-D amplifier.
  • Advanced control of multi-track recording apps including GarageBand, Pro Tools, and more.
  • Body carved of specialty hardwoods and bamboo from sustainable sources.
  • Designed and hand-built in Nashville, TN.

Price and Availability
Artiphon will begin taking pre-orders for the INSTRUMENT 1 in the first quarter of 2013, at a price point under $1000. Those interested in winning one of the first 1000 units can fill out our five-minute customer survey here.