Designing Innovative Electronic Musical Instruments
Designing Innovative Electronic Musical Instruments
LinnStrument Product Page
LinnStrument Reviews / Testimonials / Awards / Press
Sept 29, 2016
"Add everything together, and what we have here is a really ingenious new instrument design. The grid layout is flexible enough to support melodic, chordal and percussive playing in virtually any style of music. The 'multi-dimensional' expressive features encourage musical interactions that just aren't possible with keyboard-based controllers (or, for that matter, most other kinds of MIDI controller)."
Issue 299 (available Nov 15, 2015)
"To sum up, I really dig LinnStrument. It opens up a whole new world of MIDI-controlled performance in an elegant/intuitive way and, although it’s basically a controller without an internal sound engine, it still feels like a ‘real’ instrument. If you are looking for a new way to perform musical gestures that simply aren’t possible on a MIDI keyboard (or using a piano-note-layout), then LinnStrument is definitely for you and it’s pretty affordable too – a must try for sure!"
Rating: 9 out of 10
Click here for full review.
October 2015 issue. Click here for full review.
"It's extremely well thought out and offers much deeper features than I have room to explain. Because of its unusual layout, I found myself playing parts I never would have thought of on keys or guitar. A LinnStrument performance is visually stunning, too, because the LED colors respond to your playing and could enhance your stage presence. And the ability to change the defaults, as well as dig deeper with its open source software, lets you customize it to your heart's content.
Best of all, it's relatively easy to learn to play, especially if you know your way around fretted instruments. It costs less than other PMCs, its capabilities are deep, and it delivers everything it promises. If you've ever felt stifled by the expressive limitations of MIDI keyboards, get your hands on a LinnStrument."
June 2015 issue. Click here for full review.
"After spending three weeks with one, I found that it's not only an extremely flexible, powerful, and programmable MIDI controller, but also quite easy to learn and play. It's also fun and addictive. Even though its notes are not laid out like a piano, it's the most keyboardist-friendly non-keyboard I've ever played."
"From a keyboardist's perspective, this is the hippest, most approachable, most fun-to-play 'anti-keyboard' yet."
German language. March 2016 issue. Click here for review.
"Sobald ich das Linnstrument unter den Fingern hatte, war ich stundenlang im Bann eines mäßigen Steel-Guitar-Presets aus dem Beispielprojekt für Logic Pro X. Dabei liefert die Interaktion von polyphonem Pitchbend, Velocity und Aftertouch eine Natürlichkeit, die musikalisch wirklich inspirierend wirkt."
Dutch language. April 2016 issue. Click here for review.
"LinnStrument is een heel nieuw en zéér inspirerend muziekinstrument dat het absoluut waard is om tijd in te steken. De beloning is dan uniek, en ‘uniek’ is een kwaliteit die ik elke muzikant gun."
Do you own a LinnStrument and would like to add a testimonial? If so, I'd very much appreciate it. Please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks much, -Roger.
"Roger, congratulations on your invention. It's by far the most expressive digital instrument I've played :) As a guitarist (primarily) I feel like this thing was made for me! The vibrato in particular is amazing, it feels like I am playing an acoustic instrument!"
- Jonathan Lawson
"What a great music tool- makes me think in shapes and music theory again, rather than in sequencer steps."
- Chris Baszto.
"While I have a moment of your time, I wanted to thank you and everyone else attached to the project for the LinnStrument. What an amazing device! I've had it less than a day, and I'm already finding it much easier to make music than with my old keyboard. The blending of my larger guitar experience and smaller (almost nonexistent) piano experience is helping with the transition, and I couldn't be happier with the results. I look forward to the journey of improving my technique and ever finding new methods of expression with the help of everyone's hard work which has played a part in making the LinnStrument a reality."
- Roe Nix
"I enjoy the Linnstrument very, very much. As a guitar player I feel quite like home and now have the freedom to sustain and modulate the notes. This is huge. Also no mistriggers except when I don´t watch my playing. I bought a Fatar VFP2-15 sustain pedal and it works as advertised. I couldn´t be happier when it comes to translating my ideas into the DAW. All the best and a big THANK YOU."
"I’d like to thank you for inventing such a wonderful controller. It’s going to take me a good amount of time and practice to get proficient at playing my LinnStrument, but it’s already shown me that my purchase was absolutely the right thing for me to do.
I 'played' it for around 3 hours yesterday, as I’ve got a few days off work, and had no [arthritis] hand pain at the end of it. This compares to me playing a traditional keyboard for half an hour and suffering all day thereafter. I’m now starting to code up a simple editor to make it easier to configure and I’m going to have another stab at finding an accessible method for editing the firmware, as there are significant accessibility possibilities for the LinnStrument if I can get it transmitting some extra data.
I found that I was more successful with my playing if I stopped thinking of it as a keyboard or a guitar, but as the true and unique instrument that it is. I haven’t been so excited about a musical device in a good many years and I’m absolutely thrilled with it."
- Tim Burgess, visually impaired musician with arthritis, who also writes software
"It’s been so much fun playing (amateurishly) with my LinnStrument and seeing all the interesting new things you and Geert have been adding to it. Not many hardware gadgets have such responsive and inventive creators; the LinnStrument has been a fun journey, not just a musical instrument. I can’t wait to see what happens in 2017."
- Peter Landers
"I wanted to tell you how astonished in every way I am by the LinnStrument. I have played piano for many years, mainly jazz and blues, but also fooled around with guitar, sax and some other stuff. When I played the non-piano instruments I always found myself enthralled with the expressive possibilities but always returned to piano as my main instrument, I think mainly because one can play two lines and have a more full solo sound.
Now, you have given me an instrument where I can have the best of both worlds. This thing is absolutely amazing. I could go on and on but I'm sure you've heard it before. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I've only had it for five days and have been amazed how friendly it is to pick up. I recorded something tonight just to begin to document my journey with this thing and I thought I would send it to you. I used Reaktor's Prism synth, with no overdubs, edits or processing...just me sitting at the Linnstrument for a couple minutes. I would ask anyone, show me another instrument where I could do something like this after five days with it.
Anyway, I'm no prodigy, and maybe I'm too excited to be at all objective, but if I had heard this before I knew about these new expressive instruments and was told it was done entirely by one person, in one take on a software synth (no samples) with a midi controller, there is not way I would have believed it.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. I am just enthralled and I can't wait to see where this journey takes me."
- Stephen Barnard
"My LinnStrument arrived last week. Thank You. I'm still getting used to the playing surface, but it is wonderfully intuitive, and I love the flexibility it has. It has a top quality build and feel, and the design of the menu items and the options for editing are very clever. I am exceptionally pleased with it. Many hours of the long Canadian wi nter will now be gainfully occupied."
"This is a great instrument! I've only had a few hours with it and I can tell this is going to be loads of fun and a great source of creative inspiration. I can't wait to dig in deeper! Thank you!"
- Shane Sorbello
"Thank you so much for a wonderful product, but also for the love and
care that went into its design, fabrication, packaging, and marketing.
- Ismael Ghalimi
"I am soo happy with the Linnstrument! I have not been able to put it down. I ordered the SM Violas and cellos and they sound great and are so much fun to play! I have already laid down some strings on my buddy's song and I am having so much fun experimenting! I plan to record some video with it controlling my modular stuff and Moogs and various other wild fun stuff."
- Ted Pedersen
"I played now for some weeks and do fall more and more in love with the
LinnStrument. All you said about, why the design is as it is, does make
sense now. Of course it takes time to master the subtleties, but I have
never had such an expressive experience with an electronic instrument.
First time for long, that I get into synthesis again. Now I just have to
adapt more sounds..."
- Stefan Tiedje
"I am loving the linnstument!! I am a long time guitar player that has tried so many of the different options to enter the exciting and vast world of synthesisers that has finally found what I was looking for."
- Ian Cabrie
"I've been playing the Linnstrument for a little under a month now, and I have to tell you it is pretty amazing. It is extremely responsive, comfortable and inspiring. I really love the swing of the arpeggiator. I can really get some sweet funky drum patterns going with it. Almost like some second line New Orleans grooves. I also recently hooked it up to an Access Virus TI, and have been using the channel per row function. By setting the same patch for each row, I can really get into some cool expressive playing. Thanks for creating this wonderful instrument."
- Josh Riggs
"I just received my Linnstrument today and I must tell you that it's even better than what I expected (and I expected A LOT from you I must say!) So thank you oh so much for a wonderful instrument!"
- Shawn Hsu
"I am absolutely obsessed with my new Linnstrument."
- Nick Maxwell (nickstutorials.com)
"I'm enjoying the Linnstrument every single evening after the kids get into bed. FM synthesis and freedom of Nord Modular G2 Engine are best friends of my Linnstrument now. Being able to assign any aspect of sound to any of the XYZ controllers is so liberating. You really changed the way I approach and enjoy the music playing and sound design."
- Jakub Forejt
"I just wanted to thank you for such a unique instrument, I fell in love with it on that first pad push and nothing else has resonated quite the same since.
- Ryan Phelps"
" I am having so much fun with this! It is really an amazing experience. Thank you!"
- Shane Dilworth
"I plugged in the Linnstrument the other night and tried it out. Wow. This is what I have been wanting in a keyboard for a long time. As a guitarist, and budding violinist, I finally have a keyboard that feels right. The left/right vibrato feels very natural. Congratulations on making such a great instrument."
- Phil Burk
"I just want to say that the LinnStrument has become such an important tool in my music-making and I am very glad that I decided to buy one after waffling back and forth. Thanks for creating such a powerful instrument. Almost every piece that I’ve composed for school or for leisure has used the LinnStrument in some way. At the time of purchase, I had no idea that it could be this versatile as I knew very little about the MIDI protocol. But through experimenting with the LinnStrument and learning about the protocol in class and through reading, I was able to gain a solid understanding of how it works. On some pieces, the LinnStrument has come in handy for recording percussion parts (much faster than notating it out and sounds very natural), using the pitch bend axis as a fader for CC11 expression (especially for adding natural-sounding dynamics for melodic orchestral instruments), and recording improvised solos. My favourite way to use the LinnStrument is by selecting Channel-Per-Row mode and tuning the even-numbered rows 50 cents higher than the odd-numbered rows to create quarter-tone scales and chords. This ability to re-tune the LinnStrument to incorporate microtonal tunings is extremely exciting as it opens up a realm of new possibilities. Here is a short piece that I wrote while experimenting with the quarter-tone tuning of the rows. I was able to demo the LinnStrument for my electro-acoustic music class as well as perform with it in a composers’ concert and many students and teachers were very excited to see and hear it."
- Matthew Nakagawa
"Thanks for inventing such an amazing instrument!"
- Finn Schatvet-Riisager
"Thank you for the best instrument/controller in my arsenal."
- Timmy Put
"Roger you are a genius! This thing is absolutely amazing!! Beautifully engineered... synthesists have been longing for this level of expressiveness for decades."
- Paul Schilling
"Had one for a couple months now, and I was initially pretty skeptical about how well it would work out, but I'd say it's quickly become indispensable for me. I can quickly improvise with synths now, and even play a passable pedal steel - not being a key player, but a synth fanatic, this is truly awesome. Hope you sell thousands of these Roger! I'll need another one when I wear it out!"
- Josh Reineke
"I’m more of a keyboard player (though not very good!) but I’m finding the Linnstrument very easy to pick up and play.
It’s really easy to use, the whole design and UI are very well thought out. I also like some of the other features - supplying a bag is most useful and it’s protected it already because its box got bashed in the post! …and you even supply a cable of a good length, Why does nobody else do that?”
- Nicholas Blechford
"Just wanted to send you a quick note - I am REALLY enjoying the new LinnStrument - I've got it set up in our music room and both the kids and I are enjoying playing it - it's hugely inspirational!”
- Darius Mostowfi
"I want to express my appreciation for a superb piece of engineering, and a wonderful concept. My fledgling voyage with the Linnstrument after unboxing last night was accompanied by the sense of wonder, joy and exploration that I felt with my first hardware sequencer/synth so many years ago. Thank you."
- Adam Tullis
"Ever since I read about LinnStrument (and then saw some videos), I was mesmerized by this playability I was seeing. But as a piano/keyboard player (only), I was a little skeptical to learn this (to me) new and complicated looking grid arrangement, unsure if it ever will feel as natural to me as the piano-layout does. Then I learned about the fact, that transposition is as easy as moving the hand to somewhere else! Same fingering! Nice! This was the single most annoying thing about the piano-layout to me, re-fingering. I never played the guitar, so this was a novel concept to me...I was now able to try it out, and well, couldn’t resist anymore!...The last two weeks were a real blast! It’s an absolutely amazing controller! I’m using it with an expert sleepers fh-1 on my modular, and this synthesizer feels (and sounds!) like a new instrument to me! So very expressive! As a matter of fact, as soon as I like the adjustments of my patch, and my attention goes entirely just to playing, it starts to feel like it IS the instrument! :)"
- Haig Seraydarian
"You should put a 'Warning, Danger' sign on this thing. Fortunately I had the day off! 8 hours has just disappeared. A remarkable instrument!"
- Robert Schrei
"The LinnStrument is now the centerpiece of my MIDI studio. I sold my MIDI keyboard and synths with keyboards. No point! I can't bring myself to use such a primitive device anymore! Anyways, just wanted to say thanks for making such an incredible device."
- Lucas Rose
"I’ve really enjoyed the LinnStrument so far. I wish it had been my first instrument as it is so much easier to see the underlying musical patterns and theory. It’s great to see instrument inventors such as yourself move beyond the old designs that were highly constrained by the physics of sound production. Of course, I do still love my guitar and saxophone."
- Jeffrey Sorenson
"I received my Linnstrument yesterday and I must say that it is really fun and inspiring to play. I connected it to my Prophet 6, ignored the manual and found it really easy to configure. I am a quite experienced (Jazz) piano player and was surprised how much the different layout of the 'keys' is influencing my playing style (in a positive way). Conclusion: I love it. Can't wait to continue playing it tonight."
- Anton Güntsch
"Thanks so much for making this unique machine. I haven’t been so excited about a piece of gear in a while."
- Seph Lawrence
"It's been lots of fun to play with my LinnStrument. It just keeps you wanting to play more and trying new possibilities every day. I love it."
- Allen Wu
"I just want to say thank you to Roger and his team for the effort they've put into the Linnstrument. I've had mine for just over a month, and I don't think I've ever had so much fun playing music. This thing is amazing. I've been using it mostly to control my Oberheim Matrix-6 (a deep but clunky instrument that I never thought could sound so alive)...The Linnstrument is a brilliant concept, with many ways it could have gone wrong in the implementation. But thanks to the thoughtfulness and care put into it, it is a dream come true."
- Max Bajzek
"I have just received [my LinnStrument] and I’m already in love with it. So solid (it looked more plastic in the videos) and the case it came in was a pleasing surprise."
- Chris Solem
"You've created an amazing pleasure device for my fingers...I've been absorbed all day, I can't let it go. What a wonderful instrument, it takes no time to learn, it's so intuitive, with such a light touch synthesis is controlled how it should be. It's irresistible! With just a gentle push or rocking of the fingertips, envelopes unfold and meaningful expression fills my ears. I can't thank you enough, it's what I've been wanting and unimaginably so much more. Genius! Thank you so much."
- David Holdstock
"I've been playing Ableton Push after starting with iPad and Jordan Ruddess' Geo Synth for the past 8 months or so. Love both of them. Been playing music for the last 40 some odd years before that. When I heard about LinnStrument, I went out and bought it almost immediately. I've only had it for two days, but I can already say that I LOVE this instrument!!! The playability and control I have with LinnStrument are way beyond anything I've ever played before."
- Jamie Ward
"Thank you for creating this wonderful technology! The moment I touched it, many new possibilities opened up for me as a composer/performer. I look forward to creating with the LinnStrument to produce new works for a long time.”
- Douglas Johnson
Earlier today, I took delivery of my Linnstrument. I had high hopes for it and it has exceeded those expectations. Minutes after hooking it up, I was playing really expressive stuff. I’ve tried a lot of controllers and this is my new favorite. I’ve been using the Akai Ewi which is great but this takes things to a whole different level. Thank you so much for your trailblazing work on this instrument. All of your work has paid off with something truly amazing.
- Josh Cliffe
"The Linnstrument is a brilliant invention. In the few days I’ve had it, it has become the centerpiece of my studio. It’s helping me make better, more original music. It’s helping me produce music faster. Best of all, it’s FUN. Thank you so much."
- Peter E.
"I have #316. I'm pretty picky about instruments and have sold most of the controllers I've ever had. Some consider me a solid guitarist and synthesist but I am admittedly a lousy keyboard player. LinnStrument is THE WAY to control synthesizers - especially if the keyboard never quite did it for you. I'm using it with a eurorack modular and synths with keys on them. After a few hours with the LinnStrument, keyboards seem very old fashioned (because they are!). The LinnStrument was instantly inspiring."
- Dean Terry / @therefore
"The guitar is my primary instrument, though I am currently teaching myself to play piano too. I am really enjoying the LinnStrument because it is quite unique and would appeal to guitar, as well as keyboard, players. On the LinnStrument, I am spending time picking out familiar melodies by ear and finding chords that support these melodies. I decided to use the LinnStrument as a device to develop my ear in a very enjoyable manner. The LinnStrument is great for this because, with its LEDs, one quickly begins to recognize intervals both visually and aurally. When played in one's lap, the whole instrument is easy to see, similar to a keyboard, but with the interesting patterns of a matrix-style string instrument such as the guitar.
The LinnStrument really can be a gateway to one's own musicality, as I am finding. For those who already play another instrument, the LinnStrument is a great way to get away from the ruts of familiarity in their primary instrument to explore completely new territory. I am able to lose myself with the LinnStrument for quite lengthy periods of time, simply sifting mentally through all the music I have heard, picking out bits of it on the LinnStrument. I am able to use each hand independently to produce notes as one can on a keyboard, or simply pick out individual melody notes as I choose.
As I get older and my hands become less flexible and more prone to injury, the LinnStrument is a good instrument to continue making music with. I can lay it on my lap and use whatever fingering is comfortable. Since it only takes a very light touch to play a note, there is no strain on the hands as there would be with any other instrument such as piano or guitar. The guitar puts the player's hands in an unnatural position that is somewhat mitigated by using the classical position and associated technique, which many non-classical players do not. The piano can strain the hands and one must be careful to avoid injury from playing too long or using improper technique. With the LinnStrument, there is no such concern. Also, the LinnStrument is not a 'lesser' instrument as some alternatives to guitar or piano might be. I am thinking of the Suzuki chord instrument and similar types of instruments. The LinnStrument is fully capable of making real music, and will reward the time put in to learn to play it."
- Tony Beltran
"Just want to let you know that I'm loving the Linnstrument. It's so much more natural for me than a keyboard and I _love_ that it fits nicely on my lap. My midi keyboard may fit itself in the corner soon."
- Deno Vichas
"I just wanted to give a one-month-in report -- I LOVE MY LINNSTRUMENT! It's really everything i hoped for - super expressive, challenging but enjoyable, easy to program and setup and understand. I'm trying to play it for an hour a day, and already have recorded a bunch with it. My guitar and keyboard background make understanding its various layouts super intuitive. It plays very nicely and easily in my setup (reaper on a 64 bit pc, windows 8) and I'm just super thankful to have gotten one of these. :) Everyone who comes by the studio is curious and then thrilled when they get their hands on it. Woo hoo! I haven't tried to get it going with any of my analog or modular synths, so far I'm just doing it with soft synths because it seems very well suited for them. Anyhow, I wanted to say thanks and express my musical delight! I'm having more fun with this than any new instrument I've been exposed to in a LONG time."
- Rafter Roberts
"To say that I 'like' the LinnStrument is an understatement. As an eight-string guitar player I appreciate its perfect-fourths tuning and guitar-like behaviors. In addition, its piano-like features and range enable me to play music directly from a grand staff. Playing this high quality instrument is intellectually and emotionally satisfying, as the matrix surface feels like playing chess with musical intervals in the process of playing music with unbounded expression."
- James Weaver (Twitter: @JavaFXpert)
"The Linnstrument has changed how I look at performance on a synthesizer.
The expressiveness and versatility of the beast breathes life into even the blandest of samples and synth sounds. I’ve done tests playing the same part on keyboard and the Linnstrument and the difference in the emotional content of what comes out is remarkable."
- Simon Franglen
"I've wanted a grid-based controller for some time and have looked closely at many others. What attracted me to the LinnStrument was that it was promoted and demoed as a musical instrument first, and configurable controller second.
While there are many ways to configure options on the LinnStrument, there may be little reason to do so. To me, that marks a commitment to the musician.
I've found my #87 to be very reliable and plays fluidly. The build quality is excellent. There's no doubt I will recommend the LinnStrument to others."
- Randy Brown (http://randybrown.us)
"As a Stick, guitar, bass, "anything with strings and frets" player, the world this instrument has opened up to me is amazing and most importantly it's immediately recognizable. I'd love to play piano better than I do (which is to say barely at all), but I just don't have it in me to woodshed for a year or two to get the mechanics down. I could play the Linnstrument to some degree almost immediately. I'm able to grab some nice chord voicings in the left hand (Root, 3rd an octave above, 5th above the 3rd) easily. Right hand feels great, with good spacing of the keys to promote muscle memory. I'm hitting a few clams as I go, but for a completely new instrument that I've had in my hands for a total of maybe 6 hours, I'm seriously impressed."
- Mark Carter
"I have played many instruments badly over the years but finally here is an instrument that I can just play right out of the gate, totally intuitive and expressive. The rest of my instruments are going to new homes, this is all I need to do what I need to do."
- Mark Rosengarten
"I’m overwhelmed by it’s playability…it feels like an INSTRUMENT in the face of so many plastic 'controllers.’ ”
- Michael Maddox
"I’m a happy – if also slightly overwhelmed – Linnstrument owner, too. I cannot lie: this thing is a real instrument, and it’s taking me awhile to learn it. But it is also simply awesome. I remember the first time I got to the point where I was just jammin’ on it, and I couldn’t help myself, I just started laughing at how fun and cool it is."
- Craig Becker
"I always wanted to play the organ, piano, violin, cello, sax, trumpet…now I can!"
- Jeff Moen
Award: LinnStrument wins the One-Handed Musical Instrument Competition
Award Nomination: LinnStrument nominated for the NAMM TEC Award for Musical Instrument Hardware
If you're a voting member, I (Roger) would appreciate your consideration.
LinnStrument included in Music Radar's "10 best controllers and sequencers of 2015"
"The Instrument That’s the Key to Electronic Music’s Future" March 26, 2015
"Grammy Award Winner Roger Linn Unveils A Next Generation Electronic Instrument" September 30, 2014
"Virtualsity - Inventing the instruments of the future" August 6, 2014
"The Future of Music Making?" April 27, 2015
(Live video interview with Roger) August 13, 2014
The Dream Theater keyboardist discusses each of the new expressive controllers.
"Roger Linn’s LinnStrument feels like it was made for me!"