Getting Started

Start making sounds quickly with your new LinnStrument or LinnStrument 128.

1) Watch the above introduction video

This video will give you a quick overview of operation.

Also, check the temperature of your LinnStrument. If it arrived very warm after tranport in hot climates, let it cool down for a few hours before playing with more than a light touch. Playing with higher force while it is hot can shorten the life of its highly sensitive touch sensor. For the same reason, please try to keep it away from sources of unusually high heat or humidity. 

2) Hook it up and play some sounds

Connect the included USB cable between LinnStrument's USB jack and your computer's USB jack. You should see "LinnStrument MIDI" among the MIDI ports in your computer's music software.

Or if using LinnStrument's round MIDI jacks, you must change one of its settings: Turn on the GLOBAL SETTINGS button. Then in column 15 ("Power/MIDI"), press the second button from the front ("MIDI JACKS"). Finally, turn off the GLOBAL SETTINGS button. LinnStrument can send MIDI over either the USB jack or round MIDI jacks but not both at the same time.

For other connections such as iPads, click the "Hooking It Page" link at left.

If you are having trouble getting sounds to play, visit our FAQ Page > "Problems" tab and read the FAQ "LinnStrument is not sending MIDI. What's wrong?"

Your new LinnStrument is configured to play nice with the preset sounds of any convention MIDI synth, which are usually optimized for the limitations of MIDI piano keyboards:

* Sends over MIDI channel 1
* Sends Note On, Note Off.
* Sliding left/right sends Pitch Bend messages with a Bend Range of 2 semitones.
* Finger pressure sends Channel Pressure messages.
* Forward/backward finger movement sends Control Change 74.

Select a sound in your music software and play. Try sliding your finger left and right to bend pitch. Try wiggling your finger left and right to perform vibrato.

You'll quickly notice that the preset sounds in most synths don't respond to your finger pressure or Y-axis (front/back) movements, and pitch slides are limited to two semitones. To learn why this is, and to find sounds that respond best to LinnStrument's expressive touch control, click the Recommended Sounds link at left  and read the section "How to play sounds NOW that fully realize LinnStrument’s potential". A great starting point is to download the free Surge XT synth and our collection of LinnStrument-optimized sounds for it, as well as Bitwig 8-Track, for which you received a free license with your purchase of LinnStrument. The Recommended Sounds page has links to download both of these, or you can click the Free Surge XT Synth or Free Bitwig 8-Track links at left.

If you have an MPE synth, here's how to quickly set LinnStrument for MPE play: turn on the Per-Split Settings button. Then in the MIDI Mode column, hold the ChPerNote button for 1 second. It will turn light blue, indicating that it has set all other MIDI settings for MPE play. Those settings are: 

* Main/Master channel = 1,
* Per-Note/Member channels = 2 - 8,
* pressure = Channel Pressure/Aftertouch,
* left/right (x axis) movement = Pitch Bend with a Bend Range of +/- 48 semitones, and
* front/back (y axis) movement = Control Change 74.

Most people find themselves switching between the default one-channel MIDI settings at the top of this page (for conventional one-channel synths) and the above MPE settings (for MPE synths). To learn more about LinnStrument's MIDI settings, click the "Panel Settings" link at left, then click the Per-Split Settings tab.

3) A few tips

1)  If you ever want to return your LinnStrument to its factory default settings, do a reset: turn on the Global Settings button, then in the Actions column press both NOTES OFF and UPDATE OS at the same time.

2) LinnStrument requires only a light touch. In general, you should play it with the range of soft to hard touch that you'd use on a MIDI piano keyboard for playing chords and melodies, not the higher level of force--often using two fingers for each strike--that is often used with drum pad controllers, which are intended for more forceful play. Using consistent high force could prematurely wear out LinnStrument's touch sensor.

3) To help avoid damage to the USB jack from accidental hard cable pulls, attach one of the included guitar strap buttons to the corner of the LinnStrument nearest the USB jack, then tie the USB cable around it as a strain relief. Then any cable pulls will pull the chassis and not the USB jack.

4) Where are the notes?

Each of LinnStrument's rows consists of 25 (or 16 for LinnStrument 128) consecutive semitones, similar to the strings on any stringed instrument. By default, the rows are tuned in intervals of musical fourths (5 semitones), just like a bass guitar or the lower four strings of a guitar. And similar to a piano's white keys, the naturals (C, D, E, F, G, A and B) are lit, with the C within each octave lit in blue and the others in green. Try playing some scales, chords and melodies. To learn how to play common chords and scales, click the link on this page for Chord and Scale Shapes.

Note that you can change the row tuning to that of guitar, cello/violin or other intervals in Global Settings > Row Offset. Or you can change the lights to highlight any scale in Global Settings > Note Lights On/Off. Or change the light colors in Per-Split Settings > Color. You can learn about these settings in the Panel Settings page at left.

5) Learn more

To learn more, click some of the links on this page, including:

Panel Settings: This is the primary Owner Manual page, containing a detailed explanation of all settings on the panel, plus some deep hidden settings that aren't printed on the panel.

Hooking it up
: information about connecting to iPads and hardware synths, how to insure LinnStrument is getting adequate power, recommended foot switches and more.

FAQs: Quick answers to most common questions, like "LinnStrument is not sending MIDI. What's wrong?"

Free Bitwig 8-Track
This explains how to download, installand set up the Bitwig 8-Track DAW software that was included with your LinnStrument.

Creating Sounds
: Tips on how to create sounds that take best advantage of LinnStrument's expressive touch capabilities.

LinnStrument forum on KVR: This is a helpful and safe place for asking questions and exchanging ideas with other LinnStrumentalists, who happen to be some very fine people.

Videos: Hundreds of video submitted by LinnStrument players around the world. Seeing others play LinnStrument is very helpful in learning how to play it. There are also some helpful How To videos that I (Roger) and others have created.


Thank you for liking LinnStrument enough to own one. I welcome you into the community of LinnStrumentalists.

Roger Linn