Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the limitations of LinnStrument's sensor technology?

A:

  1. Velocity sensing, while very good on LinnStrument, is inherently less accurate than a MIDI piano keyboard for two reasons. First, pads lack the physical momentum of a moving key. Second, pads sense velocity by tracking the pad's pressure envelope until it starts to fall from its peak, which is inherently less accurate than measuring the time for a piano key to move between two electrical contacts.
  2. If 3 note pads are pressed that are 3 corners of a rectangle, presses to a note pad that is the 4th corner of that rectangle will be ignored.
  3. No more than 3 note pads are permitted in the same vertical column. Pressing a 4th note pad in the same column will be ignored.
  4. Y-axis (forward-backward) movement is limited to the 17 mm vertical dimension of each note pad. Sliding your finger vertically across rows will result in a new note when the touch enters the adjacent row's note pad.
  5. Maximum simultaneous touches: about 50, or 15 in MPE mode, due to the maximum 15 per-note MIDI channels.
  6. Minimum distance between any 2 touches: 10 mm, but the 2 touches must be in 2 adjacent note pads.
Q: How difficult is it to learn to play?

A: If you play a stringed instrument, it's surprisingly easy to transfer your skills to LinnStrument's stringed-instrument note layout, which is like an 8-stringed bass guitar with each row consisting of consecutive semitones, and with the rows tuned to fourths intervals. This isomorphic layout is both easier to learn and play than a piano keyboard note arrangement, and is much better suited to expressive performance. Here's why. And here's a page showing the location of popular chords and scales.

Q: Where can I try out a LinnStrument?

A: You can see our current dealer list by clicking the Store/Dealers menu -> Dealer List. If there's no dealer near you with you to try out, email me (Roger) at sales@rogerlinndesign.com and there's a good chance of a LinnStrument owner in your area who would be willing to show you his. Or you can buy one from my online store and return it for a refund within 60 days.

If your local local dealer doesn't carry LinnStrument, please tell him that I would welcome an order from them.

Q: Can you help me decide between the larger LinnStrument model or the smaller LinnStrument 128 model?

A: In the default fourths tuning and default transposition, LinnStrument 128 has a pitch range of 51 semitones (F#0 to G#4), a little over 4 octaves; and the large LinnStrument model has a pitch range of 60 semitones (F#0 to F5) or 5 octaves. See here for a picture of the pitch locations on both models.

The larger model gives you more flexibility for two-handed and split-keyboard play, as well as more space to continue chords or single lines up into higher registers without switching to other rows. A good analogy is the difference between playing a 24-fret and 15-fret guitar. (The large LinnStrument has 25 columns, like 24 frets plus open string. The LinnStrument 128 has 16 columns, like 15 frets plus open string.) On a 15-fret guitar, you'd probably find it more difficult to perform solos because you'd often need to switch to other strings.

Also, if you're interested in using the Step Sequencer, the sequence view area on LinnStrument 128 shows only 8 steps (columns) of the sequence at a time, compared to 16 steps at a time on the large model.

Also, LinnStrument 128 has no power supply input, which very few people ever use on the large model because nearly everyone uses USB power. If using the round MIDI jacks, you can power LinnStrument from a USB power adapter. And if connecting to an iPad and you don't want to power LinnStrument from the iPad, you can use a USB Y-adapter cable to provide USB power from a USB power adapter while connecting to the iPad for data.

Finally, LinnStrument 128 is more portable and easy to fit into a backpack. And the larger model's folding, padded zippered soft carrying case is thicker than the small model's minimal neoprene sleeve case, which is like a laptop sleeve case.

Q: How does LinnStrument compare to Roli Seaboard?

A: Seaboard is a fine and well-designed instrument. For an unbiased answer, we suggest you search the web for "LinnStrument vs. Seaboard". You will find a number of helpful postings from owners of both instruments.

Q: I live outside of the U.S. If I place an order on your online store, will I be required to play my country's import duties, taxes and brokerage fees?

A: You will be required to pay your country's required sales taxes and import duties before receiving the package from the shipping company. If you're in Canada, you won't be charged import duties because LinnStrument is certified as compatible with NAFTA preference criteria B.

Q: How difficult is it to get it up and running?

A: Just connect to your computer via USB and play any software instrument on your computer. LinnStrument sends standard MIDI messages, just like with any other MIDI controller keyboard. You can learn more on our Getting Started page, accessed from the LinnStrument Support page.

Q: If I have a problem with my LInnStrument that requires repair, how do you handle it?

A: Contact me (Roger) at support@rogerlinndesign.com so I can understand what's wrong. If it does need repair, every problem in LinnStrument can be solved by sending you a part that you can replace yourself in 10 to 30 minutes by following a video, using only a screwdriver. Please don't send it back to us or to the dealer unless I ask you to because the dealer usually doesn't know what to do and will likely take a long time to fix it and return it to you. If you don't speak English, then it's still best to contact me because I can contact the dealer for help in translating. Most importantly, don't worry-- I want to help you.

Q: What's your return policy?

A: We understand that our LinnStrument isn't in stores everywhere, so our 60-day money-back guarantee is our way of letting you try it out at no risk. If you find that LinnStrument doesn't meet your needs, simply send it back (at your shipping expense) within approximately 60 days of receiving it, and we'll refund the entire product cost within two days. To make sure we get it, contact us first so we'll watch for it, and use a low-cost method like UPS or Fedex Ground with tracking and insurance for the product value.

Q: Why isn't a power supply included with LinnStrument (large model)? 
Q: Why is there a power supply input on LinnStrument but not on LinnStrument 128?

A: A power supply is not included with LinnStrument because LinnStrument is nearly always USB bus-powered, even from any Lightning iPad or iPhone, and when using the MIDI jacks any USB power adaptor can be used. For those rare cases where a power supply might be preferred, we sell a power supply separately. Or any power supply can be used that has a standard 5.5mm outside diameter / 2.1mm inside diameter round connector, 7.5 to 12 volts, either AC, DC center-positive or DC center-negative, and at least 300 milliamperes of current. In fact, so few people use LinnStruent's power input that we didn't include it on LinnStrument 128.

Q: Why isn't a printed manual included with LinnStrument? 

A: LinnStrument's manual and all other support documentation are online and no printed manual is included. Why?
1) Printed manuals can't have video, animations or hypertext, and printed FAQs should more accurately b called "Questions that were frequently asked when this manual was published a few years ago".
2) Printed manuals always go out of date because they represent a single point in time. For this reason, printed manuals are often a causes of support inquiries. Instead, LinnStrument's online manual is always up to date, reflecting the correct information for the latest software update.
3) LinnStrument owners generally prefer the online manual because they are accustomed to reading on tablets, phones or computers.
4) If you want to print any part of LinnStrument's online manual, simply print it from your browser.

Q: Does LinnStrument require a software editor or software drivers? 

A: No and no. Computer driver software is not needed because LinnStrument's MIDI-over-USB is fully USB Class Complaint, using the standard Mac, Windows and Linux drivers. A computer editing application is not needed because all settings can be accessed on the front panel, and are printed on the panel for ease-of-use. However, a license for Bitwig Studio 8-Track music software is included with each LinnStrument.

Q: LinnStrument's rows always contain consecutive semitones (chromatic scales). Is it possible to set LinnStrument so that the rows contain consecutive notes of a specific scale, for example only major scale notes while skipping over the accidentals?

A: It is fundamental to LinnStrument’s design that each of the eight rows always contain only chromatic scales. While it is true that some controllers (like our Tempest drum machine) permit you to set consecutive pads to play only scale notes (for example, only major scale notes, skipping accidentals), this is really only useful for controllers with few pads like drum pad controllers or Ableton Push. However, LinnStrument has 200 or 128 note pads so it is not necessary to delete any notes of the chromatic scale. The problem with removing the notes outside of the scale is that you can't play them, so you are limited to very simple music. There are other problems with non-chromatic scales:

1) you must always change the scales to play in different musical modes so you never get a chance to develop any playing skills because the notes are always moving.

2) Pitch slides will no longer be consistent, with larger jumps between note pads that are a whole tone apart than between those that are a semitone apart.

3) Vibratos on a pad with a semitone interval on one side and a whole tone interval on the other will be asymmetrical, bending twice as much on the whole tone side than on the semitone side.

Instead of preventing you from playing accidentals, LinnStrument borrows an idea similar to the piano keyboard's black and white keys: it provides access to all the notes but highlights the naturals. So if you don't want to play the accidentals (sharps and flats), simply play the lit notes and don't play the unlit notes. By default, LinnStrument lights the natural notes (C, D, E, F, G, A and B, with all “C” notes in light blue and the rest in green, but you can change it to highlight any scale and in any of 10 colors (red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, yellow, white, orange, lime or pink). This is done in Global Settings / Note Lights.

If you feel it is important to remove all accidentals and have LinnStrument's rows consist of only consecutive scale notes, LinnStrumentalist Rick Burnett has created a Mac application and Max/MSP patch that does that, though pitch slides will no longer work correctly.

Q: Can LinnStrument's consecutive note pads be set to play non-standard tunings / non-equal temperament tunings / microtonal tunings / xx-TET tunings?

A: LinnStrument is a MIDI controller, sending standard MIDI messages. MIDI defines note numbers as consecutive semitones. To achieve any non-standard scales, you would simply define the frequency of each MIDI note number however you wish in your external sound generator.

As an alternative, you can use MIDI scale translation software such as CSE or Universal Tuning Editor between LinnStrument and your sound generator.

Also, LinnStrument owner Ben Fuhrman has created a free patch for Cycling 74's Max that sets each of LinnStrument's rows to play an octave of any EDO from 2 to 24, with each row an octave higher than the one below it. If you don't have Max, Max patches can run on the free demo version of Max.

Here are a few other helpful things:

  1. LinnStrument’s Row Offset setting (the note number interval between rows) can be set to any value between -16 and 16 (by holding the Row Offset > Octave pad). It also permits each row to be independently tuned to any pitch you like. It also has an option called No Overlap. If No Overlap is selected, the starting note number for each row is one higher than the ending note number of the next lower row. For example, if both Row Offset = No Overlap and Split = on, you can set one split’s width to 24 columns, thereby giving you EDO 24 with each row being one octave higher than the one below it.
  2. LinnStrument has an RGB LED in every one of the 200 (or 128) note pads. The Note Lights settings permit you to a) turn on or off each of the 12 notes in the chromatic scale in one color, and b) turn on or off each of the 12 notes in the chromatic scale in another accent color. Clearly this isn’t helpful for octaves consisting of other than 12 notes. To workaround this, LinnStrument allows you to individual set each of the 200 note pads to any of 10 colors or off by sending LinnStrument specific CC messages. To make it easier, LinnStrument owner Ben Fuhrman has created a Max patch that allows you to set the note pad colors as you wish on the computer screen and automatically send the required CC messages to LinnStrument to light the note pads. The CC messages and Ben's patch are described on the Panel Settings page, Global Settings tab, Note Lights On/Off section, subsection "Setting the note lights remotely via MIDI messages".
Q: Which DAWs or synths are MPE-compatible (work with LinnStrument's Channel Per Note and Channel Per Row MIDI modes)?

A: There's a list on our "Recommended Sounds" page, accessed from the LinnStrument Support page.

Q: Are MPE-compatible synths necessary for use with LinnStrument?

A: No. By default, LinnStrument uses it's One Channel MIDI mode, thereby making it compatible with every MIDI synth in existence. MPE (Channel Per Note mode) is only needed if you need to play polyphonic pitch bends or polyphonic Y-axis, which are fairly rare in most types of music. And note you can get polyphonic pressure with one-channel synths because of MIDI's Polyphonic Pressure (aftertouch) messages. Also, LinnStrument's smart MIDI One Channel mode transparently works around MIDI's limitations for polyphonic expression over a single MIDI channel.

So if you don't have an MPE synth, you may never notice any limitations when playing LinnStrument in One Channel mode. In fact, most LinnStrument owners use standard one-channel synths, and one of our main demo videos for LinnStrument doesn't use any MPE sounds at all. And note that all of Audio Modeling's superb wind and bowed-string software instruments are monophonic and therefore can't take any advantage of MPE (MIDI polyphonic expression).

Q: Can LinnStrument be used as a step sequencer?

A: Yes, it has a built-in step sequencer. You can learn about it on the Panel Settings page, "Sequencer" tab.

Q: Can you add this feature: __________?

A: LinnStrument has a very full feature set, which you can see in the User Manual, accessed from the LinnStrument Support page.

However, the flexible nature of LinnStrument inspires many different people to want to make it into many different instruments. Geert (LinnStrument programmer) and I (Roger) realized early on that:

1) We don’t have the resources to make a LinnStrument that meets everyone’s individual desires,
2) we didn’t want to make it so complex that it scares away non-techy musicians, and
3) we wanted to keep it compact without adding space for an alphanumeric display.

So we intentionally chose parameters that focused on its core purpose as an expressive musical performance instrument and printed them on the panel, and I only printed parameters in the first 16 columns in order to maintain compatibility with LinnStrument 128. And for all of the many different features that individual users desire, we:

1) released the software as open-source, permitting everything to be customized,
2) put in lots of remote MIDI commads so that external computer applications can control nearly everything, and
3) created a User Firmware Mode that allows LinnStrument to act as a smart terminal for external computer applications.

Given that the upper and lower printed panel parameters through column 16 are all used, any new features must be fairly simple and carefully considered to be important to many users for LinnStrument's core purpose as an expressive musical performance instrument.

Q: Why didn't you use a softer, thicker touch surface as on the Continuum or Seaboard?

A: I (Roger) tried a variety of materials and thicknesses. Here is why I finally decided on LinnStrument's 2mm thick, slightly soft 40 durometer silicone rubber surface:

1) Adding more thickness spreads out the force of your touch onto the sensor below it, reducing the sensitivity to light touches.

2) Foam rubber as used in the Continuum or Seaboard surfaces cannot be translucent and therefore can't be used for LinnStrument, which requires that the LED light shine through.

3) While soft surfaces provide useful force feedback for pressure-based sounds, a harder surface is often more desirable for fast rhythmic play. For example, imagine playing rhythmic clavinet part on a sponge.

Q: Why isn't Open Sound Control implemented?

A: The main reason is lack of customer interest. You certainly can convert the MIDI output to OSC by using a converter utility on your computer. The problem with OSC is that the creators intentionally didn't include any standard messages like MIDI's Note On, Note Off, Pitch Bend, etc., so plug-and-play operation is difficult. The peak of OSC's popularity was in the early iPhone days, when it was the only way to get musical control out of an iPhone. But since Apple implemented MIDI control in iOS, the popularity of OSC has diminished. Note also that because LinnStrument's software is open-source, anyone can write an OSC implementation.

Q: Why don't you make a version of LinnStrument optimized for guitar-style play?

A: Because LinnStrument can be tuned like a guitar, it would seem easy to make a version with a thinner neck optimized for guitar-style play. But much more is required for guitar-style play: a picking surface that feels natural, the ability to bend rows (strings) laterally, the ability to play bar chords and other string-focused fingering techniques, reducing the side margins around the neck to zero, changing the chassis to a something closer to a sculpted neck, and much more. Plus, Y-axis control wouldn't work on the very thin rows required for a guitar-like neck. And even if I (Roger) did all that work, the history of guitar controllers would suggest that it wouldn't be well-received because guitarists--a notoriously conservative lot--would judge if first on whether it can do everything a guitar can do, and only then explore its added possibilities.

Instead, I choose for LinnStrument to be an entirely new instrument, standing on its own merits and unchained from the biases of players of existing acoustic instruments. My view is that the guitar represents the best instrument-design technology that was available a few centuries ago, but that is no longer the case.

Q: I have a great idea for a music product and need to make a prototype but I'm not very technical. Can you do this, or can you give me any advice on how to make a prototype or any companies that I could pay to make a prototype for me? Or how can I present my idea to a music products company so they can pay me a royalty and design/manufacture it for me? How do I patent my idea?

A: Of all the ways to lose huge amounts of money, making a prototype of your idea is one of the most effective. First, there's a very good chance that others (and possibly many others) have thought of your product idea before, and the reason it isn't already on the market is either 1) others don't find it as valuable as you do, or 2) the necessary engineering or material costs would make it sufficiently expensive that few would buy it.

The first thing to do is to learn the true value of your product idea in the marketplace. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to think that everyone will value their idea as much as they do. First document your product idea, including a clear text description, drawings (or 3D renderings using the free Google Sketchup software) and a realistic customer price. To arrive at the realistic customer price, don't use a price you'd like it to sell for, but rather what it must sell for considering the total parts cost, development cost, manufacturer profit and distributor/retailer profit. Then take an objective survey of people you know and don't know, asking them not if they like it but rather would they definitely buy it at the realistic price you've given. To insure they aren't just telling you what you want to hear, tell them it's someone else's idea, not yours, and don't appear to like or dislike it.

If you still want to make a prototype, try to find a way to make it for no more than $1000 and ideally for free. If you're not technical and you have some friends who are, get them excited about it and ask for free help in exchange for future payment if you make any money later. Important: do everything you can to avoid designing new circuit boards, embedded software (software that runs on the small computers inside self-contained products) and metal/plastic mechanical housings. Very commonly, people start doing this thinking they'll spend only a few thousand dollars then later find they've drained their relatives' savings only to teach themselves how difficult it is.

For many music product ideas, it's possible to--by yourself--create a functional prototype by connecting and reconfiguring a variety of existing low-cost hardware and software music/audio products. It won't be pretty but will be functional and therefore allow you to prove your concept at low cost and therefore give a better demonstration of its usefulness. For hardware and human interface (buttons, knobs, sliders, drum pads, etc.), use existing Midi controllers such as Korg's inexpensive Nano line. Or design your desired control panel on an iPad using cheap iPad apps like MIDIPad or TouchOSC. For foot control, use a cheap midi foot pedal board like a Behringer FCB1010. For the software, it's often possible to prototype your product idea by configuring Ableton Live or other music software. If you like Live and want to dig deeper into functionality, use Ableton's Max For Live add-on. To dig even deeper, learn one of the simple graphical audio/music programming environments like Max/MSP, PD or Reaktor, or learn to program an iPad app.

Regarding presenting your idea to a music products company so they will pay you a royalty and design/manufacturer it for you, this is a highly unlikely scenario. While companies are always interested in their customers' free suggestions, it's very unlikely that they will pay anybody for anything unless they absolutely have no choice. Often they will politely decline to hear your idea because 1) customers' products ideas are rarely unique, and 2) if they were already planning the same idea, they don't want you to later accuse them of stealing your idea. However, if they truly feel it's worth spending their money to make your idea into a product and they feel you have the necessary skills to help them, probably the best scenario is that they may offer you a job.

Regarding how to patent your idea, you can't patent an idea but rather only the implementation of an idea. Getting a patent is another great way to lose lots of money. Plus, having a patent doesn't prevent anyone from stealing your idea but rather simply gives you a better case for infringement if and when you must hire an expensive lawyer to sue them. Again, don't spend any money until you've objectively proven that lots of people would buy your product at its realistic customer price.

Having written the above, it is also true that there are few things more personally gratifying than the exhilaration of creating and using a product that came from your own idea. The good news is that, armed with a willingness to learn some of the inexpensive tools I've described above as well as a little self-honesty, you stand a better chance than ever before of turning your idea into a functioning prototype. If people like it, maybe make a few more, place an ad and sell them yourself while you figure out how to make it cheaper and prettier. Regardless of whether it makes you money or not, you will have taken a fascinating journey, learned valuable new skills, influenced the art of music-making and made a personal contribution to the world of ideas.

Q: LinnStrument is not sending MIDI. What's wrong?

A: Try the following:

  1. Are you using a USB hub? If so, remove it and connect directly to the computer.
  2. Is "Global Settings > Actions column > Update OS" on? If so, no MIDI data will be sent and "LinnStrument Serial" will appear in your computer's list of connected devices. (see #6 below.)
  3. If you're using USB, make sure that 'Global Settings > MIDI I/O column is set to "USB".
  4. Does it work using the MIDI OUT jack? To use this, in Global Settings > MIDI I/O column, select MIDI JACKS.
  5. If you're new to LinnStrument, it's possible that you may have accidentally set some settings such that no MIDI is sent. To restore all settings to factory status, perform a Reset: Turn on Global Settings, then in column 16 (Actions), press Notes Off (the lowest button) and Update OS (third button from the bottom) at the same time. You should see "Reset" in large letters.
  6. If connecting by USB to a computer, does LinnStrument show up in your computer's system information?
    If on mac, click Apple menu > About This Mac, then click System Report. In the System Report window, click Hardware > USB at left. You should see "LinnStrument MIDI".
    If on Windows, open Device Manager. You should see "LinnStrument MIDI" in the list of "Sound, Video and Game Controllers".
  7. To verify that MIDI messages are arriving at your computer when LinnStrument's surface is played:
    If on mac, download and install a mac utility called MIDI Monitor. Be sure "LinnStrument MIDI" appears in the Sources section and is checked, then play LinnStrument's surface. You should see the received MIDI messages in the display area.
    If on Windows, download and install a Windows utility called "MIDI OX". Open it and from the Options menu, select MIDI Devices. This will display a new window where you will should the "LinnStrument MIDI" in the MIDI Inputs panel. Click on it to select it and then click on OK. Then play your LinnStrument and you should see MIDI messages in the main area of the MIDI OX windows.
  8. If you're using a Mac and have an earlier USB-MIDI Korg driver in your system, it has a bug that prevents LinnStrument from appearing as a MIDI device on your Mac. The solution is to uninstall the current Korg USB-MIDI driver, which you can do by clicking here. (Or delete the driver from 'Macintosh HD>Library>Audio>MIDI Drivers'.) Then reboot your computer and see if that fixes it. If so, then install the latest Korg USB-MIDI driver and verify that LinnStrument still works.
  9. If you have a MIDI keyboard (either USB output or DIN MIDI output), try connecting it. If it also doesn't work, this suggests something else in your system isn't working or set up properly. For example, you may not have the correct MIDI channel selected in your synth or DAW.
  10. Reboot your computer.
Q: LinnStrument will not accept an OS Update from the LinnStrument Updater app. What's wrong?

A: Try the following:

  1. Are you using a USB hub? If so, remove it and connect directly to the computer. (USB hubs often don't provide sufficient power.)
  2. Is LinnStrument sending MIDI over USB? (See FAQ above.)
  3. Is [Global Settings > Actions column > Update OS] turned on?
  4. Is LinnStrument showing up in your computer's system information? If on mac, click Apple menu > About This Mac, then click  System Report. In the System Report window, click Hardware > USB at left. You should see "LinnStrument Serial" if [Global Settings > Update OS] is on, or "LinnStrument MIDI" if it is off. (After changing state of Update OS, type Command+R to refresh the window.)
    If on Windows 10, open Device Manager. Under the "Port (COM & LPT)" category, you should see "USB Serial Device (COM#)".
  5. Try rebooting your computer.
  6. Try using a different computer. If you're on Windows, do you have a friend with a mac who would let you try the update from it?
Q: One or two note pads at the top of column 4 or 5 stopped working. What's wrong?

A: Sorry-- this is due to a software bug. To fix it, upgrade your LinnStrument to the current release, then disconnect and reconnect power. In version 2.1.0, disconnecting and reconnecting power would repair the problem, but the underlying cause of the problem was fixed in version 2.2.0.

Q: There seems to a slight air bubble under the rubber touch surface, causing it to be slightly raised. How do I get rid of this?

A: If the temperature around LinnStrument is high, for example in summer heat without air conditioning, its large, thin silicone touch surface--and the air underneath it--may expand slightly causing it to rise slightly from the touch sensor and circuit board below it. This is the nature of large, thin silicone sheets and unfortunately can't be changed. I (Roger) chose not to glue it down to the touch sensor beneath it because in the event of a repair need, users would not be able to independently replace only the touch surface or touch sensor or circuit board. All LinnStruments above approximately serial number 800 and all LinnStrument 128 units are less likely to have the air-expansion issue because I (Roger) added tiny venting holes to the touch surface (8 on LinnStrument, 6 on LinnStrument 128).

The fix is simple: put your LinnStrument in the refrigerator for 10 minutes (really!), and the touch surface will shrink back to normal size. If that doesn't fix it permanently, for example if you live in a hot area without air conditioning, you can loosen the panel screws then stretch the silicone sheet slightly as you retighten them. Stretch the rear of the sheet toward the rear and the front of the sheet toward the front. Don't stretch the sheet toward the left and right or it will extend out the sides and not look pretty. Here's how to tighten the panel screws to the correct tightness:

Loosen the screw, then while pressing with one hand on the top panel near the screw, turn the screwdriver clockwise with your other hand until the screw head is level with the top panel and you start to feel the increased resistance of the screw being fully seated in the hole. Then tighten an additional 1/4 turn only and no more. Note that the panel screws can be tightened within a very wide range and still work fine; this is only a problem if a screw is very tight or loose.

Q: When I connect power, all pads are red, or I see "FWUP" in large letters. Help!
Q: There is no Y-axis response in one column or in a few neighboring columns. Help!
Q: One column doesn't work, or two adjacent columns don't work. Help!

A: These are symptoms of one or more of the panel screws being too loose or too tight. For example, in hot weather the silicone touch surface can expand slightly, effectively tightening some screws. Or if the ambient temperature drops, the silcone touch surface can contract slightly, effectively loosening some screws. Here are the specific symptoms and solutions:

  • Symptom: when power is connected, either 1) all pads are red, or 2) the touch surface shows "FWUP":
    This means that one of the two screws near the Per-Split Settings button (if all pads are red) or Global Settings button (if you see "FWUP") is too tight, causing it to stick on. Loosen both screws 1/4 turn then connect power again to see if it's fixed. If not, loosen another 1/4 turn.  
    More info: In normal operation, holding Per-Split Settings while connecting power causes LinnStrument to enter Manufacturing Test Mode, in which all pads will be lit red. And holding Global Settings while connecting power causes LinnStrument to show "FWUP", a special test mode. But when it's very hot the silicone touch surface can expand, causing one of these buttons to stick on, corrected by loosening the screws a little.
  • Symptom: The upper or lower pads (or all 8 pads) of one column (or two adjacent columns) of note pads doesn't respond when touched, or the entire column doesn't send Y-axis messages:
    The screw(s) above or below that column is too loose. To learn which one is loose, press on the metal panel above or below the problem column while playing pads in that column (with Y-axis movement if the column wasn't sending Y-axis) to learn whether the upper or lower screw is loose. Then tighten the screw(s) above or below by 1/4 turn only. If that doesn't fix it, try another 1/4 turn. To verify that Y-axis output is working, it's helpful to use a MIDI monitoring application like MIDI Monitor on mac or MIDI-OX on Windows.

For either of the above, here's how to achieve the correct screw tightness:
Loosen the screw, then while pressing with one hand on the top panel near the screw, turn the screwdriver clockwise with your other hand until the screw head is level with the top panel and you start to feel the increased resistance of the screw being fully seated in the hole. Then tighten an additional 1/4 turn only and no more. Note that the panel screws can be tightened within a very wide range and still work fine; this is only a problem if a screw is very tight or loose.

More info: the panel screws not only hold the panel down but also press the connections of the touch sensor (including the 8 control buttons) against the circuit board below it. This was a necessary part of the design in order to keep the margins around the playing surface narrow. Had conventional connectors been used, the margin around the playing surface would have been much wider, increasing the total size of LinnStrument. So if a screw is too loose, buttons near that screw may not connect, causing presses or Y-axis movements to be ignored. And if a screw is too tight, a button near it may be stuck on.  But as stated above, the panel screws can be tightened within a very wide range and still work fine. A problem only occurs if a screw is very tight or very loose.

Q: While playing three or more notes at once, one of the following sometimes occurs:
1) I hear one note remaining on after release, but the note pad's light turns off.
2) I hear a note that I didn't play.
3) My synthesizer/computer receives random invalid MIDI messages.
This problem occurs regardless of which note pads I play on the playing surface. What's wrong?

A: These are all symptoms of your computer or sound generator being overloaded by the large volume of continuous MIDI messages generated by LinnStrument for its expression data. A standard MIDI keyboard sends only two continuous streams-- Pitch Bend (only when the bend wheel is moved) and Channel Pressure (only when turned on and only when keys are pressed hard). By comparison, LinnStrument's default One Channel mode sends at least 3 streams of continuous data -- Pitch Bend for X-axis movements, CC74 for Y-axis movements and a Poly Pressure stream for each note pad pressed. In typical playing, that's around 6 continuous streams of MIDI messages, which is a lot more than a standard MIDI keyboard. And if you select LinnStrument's Channel Per Note mode, it sends 3 continuous streams (X, Y and Z) for each touch. While relatively new computers, DAWs and sound generators handle this fine, older computers or software and some hardware sound generators may not.

Here are a few solutions to try:

  1. Use the MIDI OUT jack instead of USB, because LinnStrument sends USB MIDI data at 3.7 times the rate of the MIDI OUT Jack. Note that you must set 'Global Settings > MIDI I/O' to MIDI JACKS to do this.
  2. If using USB output, try reducing the density of sent MIDI messages. Go to the Panel Settings page, Global Settings tab, and search for "USB MIDI Data Reduction".
  3. If you're using a USB hub, try connecting directly to the computer's USB port because the hub may be limiting the volume of MIDI data. Also, try all of the computer's USB ports because often some ports may be given higher priority than others.
  4. Change 'Per-Split Settings > Loudness/Z' from Poly Pressure to Channel Pressure. This will send only one continuous stream for pressure regardless of how many notes are held.
  5. If the sound you're using doesn't use Y-axis data, turn it off. Set 'Per-Split Settings > Timbre/Y > On' to Off.
  6. If the sound you're using doesn't use pressure data, turn it off. Set 'Per-Split Settings > Loudness/Z > On' to Off.
  7. If the sound you're using doesn't use pitch bend data, turn it off. Set 'Per-Split Settings > Pitch/X > On' to Off.
Q: Sometimes when I press and release one specific note pad on the playing surface and no others, the note (and the pad's light) stays on after release. Further, pressing one of adjacent pads around it will often turn this stuck note (and the pad's light) off. What's wrong?

A: First, try a simple two-minute Calibration of your LinnStrument. Go to the Panel Settings page, Global Settings tab, then scroll down to the Actions section and read about the "Calibrate" action. Follow the linked video to calibrate your LinnStrument.

If this Calibration doesn't fix the problem, this indicates that the touch sensor in your LinnStrument is physically sticking on at one location, due to one of two causes:

1) The temperature and/or humidity at your location is very high, and either moisture has gotten into the touch sensor, or heat has warped it. Try reducing the temperature and if possible, moving it to a drier location.

2) The touch sensor is faulty and needs replacement. Please email me (Roger) a brief video that demonstrates the problem and I'll send you a new touch sensor that you can install yourself in about 20 minutes by following a video. If within warranty, the sensor will be free. If out of warranty, the sensor will be close to my cost.

Q: If I hold 3 note pads that are 3 corners of a rectangle, presses to the note pad that is the 4th corner of that rectangle are ignored. What's wrong?
Q: I can't play more than 3 notes in one column. What's wrong?

A: These are both fundamental limitations of LinnStrument's touch sensor technology. They are clearly stated on the Specifications page and the FAQ page, both in the Pre-Sales tab and here. Fortunately, LinnStrument's string-like note layout provides multiple locations for each pitch, so if either of these problems occurs when playing a speicific chord fingering, there is always an alternate fingering that doesn't have this problem.

Q: If I hold 3 note pads that are 3 corners of a rectangle, repeated presses to the note pad that is the 4th corner of that rectangle are sometimes ignored or sometimes cause an adjacent note pad to light. And this is not the problem described in the FAQ directly above. What's wrong?

A: Your LinnStrument may need a Calibration of its touch sensor, which you can do yourself in about two minutes. Go to the Panel Settings page Global Settings tab, then scroll down to the Actions section and read about the "Calibrate" action. Follow the linked video to calibrate your LinnStrument.  

If this doesn't fix the problem, contact me (Roger) and I'll figure out what's wrong.

Q: My LinnStrument doesn't sit level on a table, but rather rocks on two opposite corners. How do I fix this?

A: LinnStrument's thin sheet metal chassis can be slightly misaligned during shipping or movement. The solution is simple: place your LinnStrument on a flat surface then press down on the two elevated corners. This won't hurt it.

Q: My USB jack appears to be physically damaged. For example, if I look closely into the jack, I see some bent pins. Or it has come loose inside the chassis. What can I do?

A: Unfortunately the venerable USB jack was originally designed for stationary computer peripherals like printers or modems, and not for musicians. If you pull hard sideways on a USB cable, it can damage LinnStrument's USB jack, especially if playing LinnStrument in the standing position. If your USB jack is damaged, this requires replacement of LinnStrument's main circuit board. Contact me (Roger) and I'll send you a replacement circuit board, which you can replace yourself in about 20 minutes by following a video. Then you will return the faulty circuit board to me within 30 days to be repaired. The cost for this replacement and repair of the damaged board is $100 plus shipping cost to send the new board to your location and to return the damaged board to me. Unfortunately, damage to the USB jack from cable pulls is not covered by warranty.

Or, if you are experienced in desoldering components with multiple through-hole pins like a USB jack, or your have a local electronic repair shop or an electronics friend who is, I can sell you the replacement USB jack for our minimum repair parts costs of $20 including postage to anywhere. However, only do this if you're confident that you won't damage the board's circuit traces in the process. If so, the cost of a new main circuit board for the large LinnStrument model is $460 or $300 for LinnStrument 128.

Even with a broken USB jack, you can probably still play your LinnStrument. If you have the large LinnStrument model, you can use the round MIDI jacks and a power supply. Or if you have LinnStrument 128 (without the power jack) and the USB jack is working for power but not data, you can use the USB jack for power and the round MIDI jacks for data.

In future, damage to the USB jack can be avoided by tying the USB cable around the nearest guitar strap button as a strain relief, as shown at the bottom of the Hooking It Up page. This is a trick that guitarists commonly use to avoid similar damage from pulled guitar cables.

Q: My LinnStrument doesn't sit level on a table, but rather rocks on two opposite corners. How do I fix this?

A: LinnStrument's thin sheet metal chassis can be slightly misaligned during shipping or movement. The solution is simple: place your LinnStrument on a flat surface then press down on the two elevated corners. This won't hurt it.

Q: Occasionally all the note pad lights flash unexpectedly. What's wrong?

A: This indicates that you are powering LinnStrument from an inadequate power source, perhaps an iPad with a non-Apple Lightning adapter or a USB hub that doesn't supply LinnStrument's required 300 mA minimum current. See the Hooking It Up page for more information.

Q: Help! My LinnStrument is dead. No lights are on and it doesn't send any MIDI. How can I fix it?

A: This usually indicates that you have been powering LinnStrument from an inadequate power source, perhaps an iPad with a non-Apple Lightning adapter or a USB hub that doesn't supply LinnStrument's required 300 mA minimum current. You may have seen its note pad lights flash unexpectedly, an early indication of poor power. In this case, the power has dipped below the required minimum many times during internal writes to flash memory, and eventually LinnStrument was unable to recover.

The solution is simple: connect LinnStrument directly to your computer's USB port and update it to the current OS version, then it will be fine again. It will still accept an OS update in this state. Once you have completed the OS update, you'll also need to Calibrate your LinnStrument. To learn how to do this, open the Panel Settings page, Global Settings tab, then scroll down near the bottom of the page to the "Actions" section.