LinnStrument Support Page

Getting Started

To start making sounds quickly with your new LinnStrument or LinnStrument 128, watch the video below. Or read the text below the video.

1) Hook it up


USBConnect the included USB cable between LinnStrument's USB jack and your computer's USB jack. You should see "LinnStrument MIDI" among your DAW's listed MIDI ports.


If you wish to use the round MIDI jacks, you must change from USB to MIDI JACKS output:

1) Turn on the Global Settings button, in which the note pads are used to select the settings  printed below the playing surface.

2) In column 15 ("POWER/MIDI"), press the second note pad from the bottom ("MIDI JACKS").

3) Turn off the Global Settings button to return to performance mode.


Or, to connect to an iPhone/iPad or for other types of connections, see the Hooking It Up page. If you are having trouble, visit our FAQ Page, then scroll down to the bottom for the first FAQ under "Troubleshooting" titled "LinnStrument is not sending MIDI. What's wrong?"  If you're new to MIDI, here's a good basic tutorial from Yamaha, or this more comprehensive introduction.


2) Select a sound in your recording software and play a few notes


By default, LinnStrument is configured to play with the presets of any MIDI sound generator. Make sure the eight buttons on the left side of the playing surface are all turned off ("Performance" mode), then play LinnStrument's playing surface and hear the notes play. Try sliding your finger left and right to bend pitch. Try wiggling your finger left and right to perform vibrato.


By default, LinnStrument sends all notes over MIDI channel 1, sending standard Note On/Off messages with velocity, Pitch Bend messages from left/right finger movements with a bend range of +/- 2 semitones, Polyphonic Aftertouch from each finger's pressure variations, and Control Change 74 for finger forward/backward movements within the note pad. These default settings allow LinnStrument to work with any MIDI sound generator's presets, but you can change any of these in the Per-Split Settings.

3) Where are the notes?


Each of LinnStrument's rows consists of 25 consecutive semitones, similar to the notes on any stringed instrument. By default, the rows are tuned in intervals of musical fourths (5 semitones), just like the lower four strings of a guitar. And similar to a piano's white and black keys, the naturals (C, D, E, F, G, A and B) are lit in green, with the C within each octave lit in blue. Try playing some scales, chords and melodies.


You can change the row tuning to guitar, cello/violin or other intervals by changing Global Settings / Row Offset. Or change the light colors in 'Per-Split Settings / Color'.

Click to learn more about where common chords and scales are in the default 4ths tuning

4) Download free LinnStrument-optimized sounds


When playing the standard presets of most MIDI sound generators, you'll notice a few limitations:

1) Pitch slides are limited to 2 note pads left or right,
2) There is no response to finger pressure,
3) There is no response to forward/backward finger movement, and
4) Polyphonic pitch bends or Y-axis movements aren't possible.


The first three limitations are because the presets in most MIDI sound generators are optimized for standard MIDI keyboards, which don't have LinnStrument's expressive 3-dimensional advantages. Click here to learn how to edit your sounds to overcome these limitations.


To overcome all four limitations, you'll need a MIDI sound generator with Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression (MPE) capability. Here's a list of MIDI sound generators that do, including Apple's Logic Pro X and MainStage, and Bitwig Studio and 8-Track. 

For both mac and Windows users, a free license for Bitwig 8-Track is included with your LinnStrument purchase and includes a bank of LinnStrument-optimized sounds. Click here to learn how to get it.


For mac users, our best collection of LinnStrument-optimized sounds is available as a free download for Apple's $200 Logic Pro X or $30 MainStage 3. (Here's the Logic Pro X file and here's the MainStage 3 file.) The sounds in these two files are identical and are optimized for polyphonic 3-dimensional control using LinnStrument's Channel-Per-Note (MPE) mode. To play these sounds, set LinnStrument to MPE mode:


1) Turn on the PER-SPLIT SETTINGS button.

2) In the MIDI MODE column (column 1), hold ChPerNote (2nd pad from the top) for one second. (It will turn light blue.) This will set all necessary MIDI settings for MPE play.

3) Turn off the PER-SPLIT SETTINGS button.


Note: If the above settings don't work correctly, you may have changed other settings in LinnStrument. To reset LinnStrument to default settings: Turn on GLOBAL SETTINGS, then in the ACTIONS column (column 16), press NOTES OFF and UPDATE OS at the same time. You will briefly see "RESET" displayed. Now set the above settings again.


Now try using all three dimensions of finger movement:

Varying finger pressure (Z axis) controls note loudness/expression, sending MIDI Poly Pressure, Channel Pressure or CC11  messages. Strike velocity is also sent.

Left/right finger movement (X axis) controls pitch, sending MIDI Pitch Bend messages.

Forward/backward finger movement (Y axis) controls timbre, sending MIDI Control Change 1 or 74 messages.

You can find more information about the pluses and minuses of various DAWs and sound generators for use with LinnStrument on our Recommended Sound Generators page.




5) Try a few other features


Once you've got the above basics down and you're feeling a little adventurous, try out a few of LinnStrument's other novel features:


> Split keyboard.

> Change the octave or transposition with the OCTAVE/TRANSPOSE button.

> Adjust the volume using the VOLUME button.

> Change the colors of the note lights.

> Connect a foot pedal for sustain and other actions.

> Try out the Arpeggiator.

> Try out the Low Row feature, which changes the lowest row into a control strip for use as a sustain pedal, arpeggiator ON switch, a strumming surface for notes fingered in the opposite split, and other novel uses.

> Use the CC Faders feature, in which one split can be used as 8 horizontal faders for Control Change 1 through 8.

> Adjust the touch sensitivity for either velocity or pressure.

> If you ever are confused and want to return LinnStrument to its factory settings, you can perform a RESET.


To learn about other features of LinnStrument, visit the Panel Settings pages.

Roger Linn Design  •  Berkeley, CA, USA

Roger Linn Design  •  Berkeley, CA, USA