InstaChord IC-31

Categories: Commercial Hardware Products

Submitted by:InstaChord Corp.

24 May 2023

Elevator Pitch

InstaChord IC-31

InstaChord is a strummable MIDI chord instrument/controller. By assigning the Nashville Number method to each buttons, even beginners can play right away.

Product Description

InstaChord IC-31

InstaChord is an electronic instrument for chord-playing, with a revolutionary user interface. Two key features are its ease of learning, and its all-in-one nature. The first point - InstaChord is super easy to learn, because it can be played using a number-based system (Nashville numbers) instead of standard chord symbols. In each set key, the numbered buttons are assigned a single diatonic chord in that key. The user can choose the chord to play, simply by pushing one of the appropriate numbered buttons. In addition, there are also M7, 7th, sus4, etc, and a major/minor swap button, which can be pressed simultaneously with the chord buttons to play more sophisticated chords. Plus, KANTAN Chord, a browser extension app that converts Ultimate-Guitar.com’s chord symbols to Nashville numbers, is available free of charge. Secondly, all-in-one. InstaChord not only has MIDI via USB/Bluetooth output to act as a MIDI controller, but also has a GM sound source and speaker built-in, so it you can play the instrument right out of the box. It has multiple playing styles. Strumming like a guitar, tap the pads like a piano or percussion instrument, or push for tones like strings or woodwinds. With 128 instrument sounds built-in, you are not limited to playing chords - leads, bass, even drums. In addition, a MIDI looper feature is available, allowing for unlimited expression with just this single unit.

How It's Innovative

There are two points that make this instrument innovative. An interface that even beginners can quickly learn. An analog sensor with a realistic playing feel. 1) We developed the UI from scratch, our goal being creating an instrument that anyone can play. To do this, we set 2 rules: Comply with conventional music theory. Comply with common knowledge that everyone is familiar with. And the result is our revolutionary interface - the Nashville number method applied to the ever-so-common calculator ten-key. We also developed KANTAN Chord, a browser extension app that converts Ultimate-Guitar.com chord sheets into numbered degrees, creating an environment where any song can be played with very little effort. This user interface has been patented internationally. 2) InstaChord is played with six plastic “pads” that resemble guitar strings. The pads can be played by strumming like a guitar, tapping like piano keys, or applying pressure. Whatever the playing method, each pad has sensors detecting the varying force for MIDI velocity control. This internal structure is international patent pending. These two points have given birth to an instrument that allows the player to jump-start to the fun part of playing music, skipping the long painful hours of practice. At the same time, unlike “beginner instruments” which commonly has the player passively chasing blinking lights, InstaChord has a much closer experience to learning and playing a conventional musical instrument.

See MIDI Innovation In Action

Most Inspiring Use Cases

We have had hundreds of people with no previous experience on any instrument try this instrument. It is an inspiring experience to see all of them to be able to play and sing “Let it Be” or “Can't Help Falling in Love” with only a few minutes of practice. On the other hand, those who are already advanced musicians quickly go beyond our expectations, using in-depth features like the loop machine and the melody mode to create music that is unique to the InstaChord.

Expansion Plans

Currently, due to the small number of units produced, we are selling products for mid to high-end users at around $400. If production volume increases in the future, we would like to bring in an entry-level model in the $200 range to increase sales. We also plan to release the core program that is the heart of InstaChord - we call it "KANTAN Music". By licensing this to instrument manufactures, we hope this method/interface can become the one of the standards to play electronic musical instruments. We are currently running tests with the browser application version: https://kantan-play.com/


In 2020, InstaChord was funded to be commercialized product through a Japan-only crowdfunding campaign that attracted approximately 2,300 pre-orders. Since then, we have continued to increase the number of users and have made numerous physical and software updates, with the help of the current 6,000+ users here in Japan. A global model, with international electronics certifications applied, is scheduled to be released in 2024.