Constructing Hauptwerk Instruments on a budget

You are considering constructing an instrument powered by Hauptwerk™.
There are lots of variables and it can be somewhat overwhelming.
Once you have read through the ideas below you might want to play around with different wishlists on the website.
Try out different scenarios to get the general costing. I'm going to give you some food for thought and strategies that will save you money and give you the expandability you want.



  • It's far less expensive, per keyboard, to ship 3 than it is to ship 1 or 2.
  • Keep in mind, you can have a mix of keyboards with pistons and keyboards without. This cuts down on cost. If, at a later date, we offer just the piston rails for sale, they are much smaller and cheaper to ship than full keyboards.
  • Many people are ordering 1 or 2 keyboards with pistons and then the rest without.
  • There is no functional difference between the piston types. The square ones are made in the millions at a time and are a contact switch that goes "click" when you press it. The Round ones are silent and use reed-switches. They are made in very small batches and are therefore much more expensive than the square ones.


I would love to sell you a pedalboard. However, you have some other options:
If you find a good pedalboard locally, we can help you to convert it to a MIDI pedalboard. If you find one with switches already in tact or that has magnets on the ends of the keys, your costs go down significantly from $1725 + shipping to $300-550 + shipping. If you need someone to help you install it, that might cost another couple hundred but you're still ahead by $1000.
To determine which scanner board might fit your pedalboard, read our tutorial here


Same deal. If you can find one locally that you can live with, great. Saves money and shipping.


Here's the rule on the whole PC/Mac thing: Macs are way easier to set up but are more expensive and last longer than a cheap PC. Having said that, for a couple hundred I can refer you to someone who will tweek your PC to play nice with Hauptwerk and you can replace the PC in a couple of years with something newer and faster; all for the same price as a single Mac Pro.
Get computer with lots of RAM capacity (24+ GB) even if you don't want to fill it up now. Buy 4GB sticks so that you don't have to throw out any RAM when you want to add more.

Audio interface

I suggest getting an audio interface that has 8 channels and a headphone preamp built in. They're not terribly more expensive than ones with less outputs and it gives you room to expand as you grow your Hauptwerk habit.
My current recommendation is the Presonus Audiobox 1818VSL. It sounds great for the price. I have always found Presonus hardware to be very reliable. 
The Audiobox 1818VSL (and it's smaller sibblings the 44VSL and the 22VSL) are all external, USB 2.0 soundcards.
If you want to buy a Firewire soundcard from M-Audio, Echo, Presonus, Focusrite, RME, Lynx Apogee or others, you'll need a Firewire (1394) port on your computer. Make sure the port uses Texas Instruments chips for best results.


I'm not sure what you have in mind for an amplifer. You can use some home theater amps that have discrete inputs. Whatever you use, it's best that all of the speakers and amplifiers are identical. It makes things sound better. More on that another time.
Bottom line, you can always start with what you've got and upgrade later. Other rule of thumb. Better to get a really good set of headphones like the AKG k701 or k702 than a crappy pair of speakers. They're about the same money but one sounds great and the other doesn't.


Most sample sets have an all-in-one view. so you can certainly get by with 1 touchscreen. 
If you do get lots of pistons, you can program them to do many of the functions you might typically need to use a mouse or touchscreen for.
If you go with a regular non-touchscreen, program as many registration settings on to pistons as possible to minimize the need for using a mouse.


The best case scenario is to make all of your speakers identical. Some great brands are Definitive Technology and Golden Ear. You're not at this point yet, so, let's talk about that later.



In terms of sound quality, it's generally better to spend your money buying an amazing set of headphones than a couple of mediocre speakers and amp. They cost about the same. However, if you spend the money on your headphones, the sound will be incredible.

People have told me about many different headphone models. Some are great for some sounds but lack on the low end. Some are great but are stupidly expensive. I have found no better headphones on a cost/performance basis than the AKG K701 or K702.  The two models are essentially the same but for color and that one has a detachable cable.


We're in the process of launching our new, modular key cheeks (with music desk) and consoles. To save cash, you can order the unfinished ones and stain or paint them yourselves.
The IKEA Galant table with A-frame legs 60" is a great interim table that adjusts to AGO height and is $200ish.
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