Getting Started

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

1) Before you start

1) If your LinnStrument arrived very warm, the silicone playing surface may be slightly loose due to temporary heat-related expansion. If so, let it cool down for an hour or two before playing it with more than a light touch, or put it in your refrigerator for 20 minutes to cool it faster. And try to avoid placing it in direct sunlight or near sources of unusually high heat or humidity. 

2) Please register your purchase using the link at left (or above on mobile). If you bought from a dealer in the past 60 days, I'll extend your warranty from 2 to 3 years. If you bought used, I'll transfer any remaining warranty to you. Either way, I'll give you a license for Bitwig 8-Track DAW software.

3) If you purchased used, it's best to reset all settings to defaults: turn on the Global Settings button, then in the Actions column (column 16), press both NOTES OFF and UPDATE OS at the same time. Also, check your software version and if needed, update to the latest software. Click the "Updating Software" link at left (or above on mobile devices).

4) I occasionally send out email newsletters with tips & tricks, new videos, or other items of interest to LinnStrument owners. If you’d like to receive them, click the “Email Newsletters” link at left. You can unsubscribe at any time and I don’t give your email address to anyone for any reason.

2) Watch the above introduction video

The above video will give you an overview of operation, including how to access the printed settings above and below the playing surface.  

3) Hooking it up

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. Note that USB hubs-- especially unpowered or low-cost hubs-- often don't provide enough power for LinnStrument. See the Hooking It Up page for more information about powering LinnStrument. Also, to 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.

If using LinnStrument's round MIDI jacks, you must change a setting: In GLOBAL SETTINGS, select MIDI JACKS in column 15 ("Power/MIDI").

If using a sustain pedal, connect it then disconnect/reconnect LinnStrument's power. At power-on, LinnStrument senses the unpressed state of your pedal in order to learn if it is a Normal Open or Normally Closed type.

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

4) Play some sounds

To immediately get sounds that fully use LinnStrument's MPE capabilities, please install LinnStrument's official (and free) synth Surge XT. Click the "Free Surge XT synth" link at left.

If you're on Mac, also download my free MPE sounds file for Apple's Logic or MainStage, which includes a variety of sample-based sounds. Click the "Free sounds for Logic/MainStage" link at left.

A good starting sound is "Pulse Wave and Filter". In Surge XT, it's in the LinnStrument MPE > Pads folder. In my Logic sounds file, it's track 14 in the Synths folder. Now try sliding your finger left or right across pads to slide in pitch. Or wiggle your finger for vibrato. Or vary finger pressure to vary loudness. Or tilt your finger forward and back to change timbre. Then hold a chord and notice that this same three-dimensional control is independent for each note in the chord.

If you are having trouble getting sounds to play in your computer, click the "FAQs" link at left, then under the "Problems" tab, read the FAQ "LinnStrument is not sending MIDI. What's wrong?"

Both Surge XT and Logic/MainStage are both "MPE" compatible synths. (See "What is MPE?" at left.) But LinnStrument also works fine with all conventional one-channel MIDI synths, which usually have preset sounds that are optimized for MIDI piano keyboards. To play nice with such conventional sounds, LinnStrument is set by default to the following MIDI settings: 

* Sends over MIDI channel 1 (not MPE)
* Bend Range = 2 semitones (slide 2 pads to left or right for 2 semitone bends)
* Finger pressure sends Polyphonic Pressure messages, usually ignored by piano-type sounds.
* Forward/backward finger movement sends Control Change 74, usually ignored by piano-sounds.

To quickly set all MIDI settings to the above values: In Per-Split Settings, MIDI Mode column, HOLD the "One Chan" button for one second.

And to quickly set all MIDI settings for MPE values: In Per-Split Settings, MIDI Mode column, HOLD the "ChPerNote" button for one second. This will set the MIDI settings to these values:

* Main/Master channel = 1,
* Per-Note/Member channels = 2 - 8,
* pressure = Channel Pressure
* left/right (x axis) movement = Pitch Bend with a Bend Range of +/- 48 semitones,

5) 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 "Learning to play" link at left.

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" link at left.

6) 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?"

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