Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does LinnStrument compare to the 2023 Ableton Push?

The new 2023 Push adds MPE 3D-expressive touch control to its 8 by 8 matrix of play pads, and is an excellent design. This is great news for LinnStrument because it will introduce a large group of musicians to expressive touch control who wouldn’t otherwise have considered it. 

The 2023 Push and LinnStrument cater to different types of musicians. The new Push has 64 pads of larger size, arranged in an 8 by 8 matrix, so it’s more focused on Live’s primary market of clip launchers, beatmakers, sequencing/looping, and simple musical play. By comparison, LinnStrument is more focused on being a quality expressive musical instrument with a large playing surface of either 128 or 200 pads. 

LinnStrument's larger number of pads means that you won’t frequently bump into the edges of the playing surface during chord or solo play. And the smaller pads— the same spacing as human fingers— permit fingering of more complex chords in one hand, as well as easier and faster play of solo lines. 

One analogy is a comparison to guitar. In both the new Push and LinnStrument, the primary tuning is rows of chromatics tuned in fourths, like a stringed instrument. So an 8x8 matrix is like 8 strings of 7 frets each plus open string. Just as guitarists would find it limiting to play a guitar with only 7 frets, many players of the new Push will find more complex musical parts difficult to play on an 8 x 8 pad matrix. And for those wishing to split the keyboard into two zones with two different sounds, 8 columns is impractically small.

This difference is illustrated in the videos of each product. The new Push’s videos focus on playing simple solo lines and Push’s traditional strength of arranging clips, whereas LinnStrument’s videos focus on skilled play of chords and solo lines, including two-handed play.

For some people considering the new Push primarily for skilled chord and solo play, they may consider LinnStrument 128’s 128 pads at $1099 to be more attractive than the 64 pads of the controller version of Push at $999. 

I (Roger) thank Ableton for legitimatizing the entire product category of expressive MPE controllers, thereby raising the tide for all boats in the category. 

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

A:

  1. Velocity accuracy and consistency, while very good on LinnStrument, is inherently less accurate than a high-quality MIDI piano keyboard for two reasons: First, rubber pads lack the physical momentum of a moving key, which helps your finger to move at a consistent rate. 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. Also, some people may find LinnStrument's velocity accuracy to be less accurate than a high-quality drum pad controller. This is because sensing three signals (X, Y and Z) for 200 or 128 pads at high speed with low latency has inherent engineering limitations that don't exist for sensing only pressure signals from only 16 to 64 drum pads. Generally, LinnStrument players find that giving up some velocity accuracy is worth the benefits of LinnStrument's polyphonic sensing of 3 continuous dimensions for each of 200 or 128 note pads on a large playing surface. You can get a general idea of the velocity accuracy by watching some of the many LinnStrument owner videos, especially those of two-handed piano-style play.
  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. This is a fundamental electrical limitation of LinnStrument's sensing method and cannot be changed. Without this limitation, a different and far more expensive sensing method would be required for LinnStrument's large playing surface that would have less velocity accuracy, higher latency, and would interpret two close touches as one. This is why no other polyphonic 3D touch surface exists with a large playing surface, low latency and the ability to recognize two close touches as distinct. Fortunately, LinnStrument's Fourths String Note layout provides multiple instances of each pitch, so if you encounter this limitation with a particular chord fingering, there will be alternate fingerings for the same chord.
  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. Similar to #2 above, this is related to an engineering limitation of LinnStrument's sensing method, and the Fourths String Layout provides a variety of alternate fingers for any given chord.
  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: What is the warranty?

A:
* 3 years if you buy direct from my online store.
* 3 years if you buy from dealer and register your purchase (from the link at top of this page) within 60 days.
* 2 year if you buy from dealer and don’t register your purchase within 60 days.

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 to try out LinnStrument, 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 theirs. Or you can buy one from my online store and return it for a refund within 60 days.

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

Q: Can you help me decide between the larger LinnStrument model and 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. And the printed Sequencer parameters are easier to read and use on the large model because they are printed directly above the columns, whereas on the 128 they are printed to the right of the rows.

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. And although the total length of the large LinnStrument in its soft case is two inches more than the normal airline carry-on length limit, I (Roger) have traveled many times with my large LinnStrument and have never been prevented from carrying it on the plane in economy.

Lastly, it may be helpful to know that the large LinnStrument model is twice as popular as the LinnStrument 128, suggesting that people generally prefer the larger playing surface.

Q: How does LinnStrument compare to Roli Seaboard?

A: Seaboard is a fine and well-designed instrument. For many, it is a choice between the familiarity of the traditional piano pitch layout, and the advantages for pitch gestures of evenly-spaced semitones as described on the LinnStrument Product page. 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 VAT and duty?

A: Yes. When you order from our online store, you are charged only the product cost and shipping cost. Before delivering the package, the shipper will collect your country's VAT and duty. To learn your country's VAT and duty, click here and enter "9207.10.00" for the "HS Code". Also, if LinnStrument does not meet your expectations and you choose to return it within 60 days for a refund, you will be responsible for applying to your country's tax service for VAT/duty reimbursement, as well as the shipping cost to return it to the U.S. For these reasons, it is usually better to buy from a dealer in your country, or if you're in the EU's Schengen Zone to buy from Thomann.

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, then after receiving the shipment, 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 15 volts DC center-positive or center-negative, or AC 9 to 15 volts, with least 300 milliamperes of supply current. In fact, so few people use LinnStrument'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 be 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 cause 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: Why is it so expensive?

A: It's actually not expensive for what it does. Often people think that because it resembles a simple button-matrix controller like a clip launcher or drum pad controller, it should cost the same as one. But it's far more than a button matrix controller, sensing three continuous dimensions of very light touch, plus velocity and release velocity, all polyphonically and with low latency, on a large playing surface, with a translucent sensing technology that permits scale lighting. That is a very difficult engineering challenge that makes it expensive to manufacture, but which is necessary in order to make LinnStrument the highly sensitive and fine musical instrument that it is.

It's possible that LinnStrument will be less expensive in years to come as its popularity increases and more people buy it. This is because if more people buy something, the cost for each one decreases. Or another manufacturer might license LinnStrument's patented sensing technology and produce a lower-cost but similar instrument. So you might be able to save money by waiting a few years. It depends on how important LinnStrument's expressive touch control is to your music-making process, or if playing music with on/off switches, knobs and sliders is good enough for you.

Q: Roger, you're 68 (as of 2024). What if you retire? Will I be able to get parts? Will LinnStrument become unavailable?

A: That's a legitimate question. First, I'm not the type of person to retire because I enjoy what I do too much, and I have enough time to enjoy other life pursuits. Second, I keep my expenses low and don't take investment, so there's no chance of an investor pulling his funding or demanding compromises, as happens sometimes to funded companies.

If I do semi-retire someday, I'd make sure that some company continues to make LinnStruments and LinnStrument replacement parts. If needed, I'll open-source the hardware, just as I open-sourced the software. The most important thing to me is that people are able to continue to get LinnStruments and replacement parts forever.

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. The Note Lights settings normally are used to set the lights for each note in the 12 EDO scale, which isn't very useful for other EDO settings. However, LinnStrument has the ability to paint any light pattern you wish, by setting each note pad to any of 10 colors or off. To learn about this, see the Panel Settings page, Global Settings tab, Note Lights On/Off heading, Scale Select subheading.
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 Panel Settings page, 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 other than the sequencer settings, 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: 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.
  11. Look inside LinnStrument's USB jack. You should see a black plastic rectangular block in the center. If you instead see 4 (or less) gold pins, the USB jack was damaged by a hard cable pull. If so, contact me (Roger) to discuss your repair options.
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?
  7. Look inside LinnStrument's USB jack. You should see a black plastic rectangular block in the center. If you instead see 4 (or less) gold pins, the USB jack was damaged by a hard cable pull. If so, contact me (Roger) to discuss your repair options.
Q: When I slide my finger left or right to bend the pitch, the ending note pad of the slide has a different pitch than if I lift my finger and play the same destination note pad. What's wrong? 

A: This means that LinnStrument's Bend Range (in Per-Split Settings) is different than the Pitch Bend Range in your synth. They must always be set to the same value or you'll get this problem.

Also, be sure to set LinnStrument's MIDI Mode (in Per-Split Settings) to One Channel for use with one-channel synths, and to Channel Per Note for MPE synths. The reason is that the latter sends Pitch Bend messages over the per-note channels, and MPE synths often have different Bend Range settings for the Main channel and Per-Note channels.

Q: The white playing surface is loose, sometimes lifting slightly. How do I fix this?

A: If you've just received your new LinnStrument from a hot delivery truck, or if the temperature around your LinnStrument is unusually high, its silicone playing surface may expand slightly and become loose, causing it to lift slightly from the flat surface below it.

This occurs because LinnStrument's large, thin playing surface is made from soft silicone, which expands slight under heat. It is impossible to prevent such expansion without gluing it down to the touch sensor below it, which I (Roger) feel is unnecessary because the problem is rare and because such gluing would prevent independent replacement of the playing surface and touch sensor.

The fix is simple: put your LinnStrument in the refrigerator for 20 minutes (really!), and the touch surface will shrink back to normal size. Then avoid placing LinnStrument in direct hot sun or near a heater or other source of heat.

If this doesn't work, remove the top panel by following this video, which tells how to remove and replace the top panel:

https://youtu.be/lN8bbS6arWU

After removing the top panel, stretch the playing surface (a flexible silicone sheet) slightly to the front and back, tightening each panel screw as you do. When attaching the panel screws, be careful to not under-tighten or over-tighten them. This is because they also press the sensor’s contacts against the mating contacts on the circuit board. So if too loose, they may not make contact, so Y-axis won’t work on the nearby column. Here’ s a guideline for tightening them correctly:

Insert the screw and turn the screwdriver clockwise 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; there is only a problem if a screw is very tight or loose.

After reassembling, test Y-axis output on one pad within each column. If a column doesn’t send CC74 (default) in response, tighten the screw(s) above or below that column 1/4 or if needed 1/2 turn until the Y-axis works on that column. Don’t overtighten or the silicone playing surface will bulge out and look bad. Also, don't over-tighten the screws near the Per-Split Settings or Global Settings buttons or they may stick in the ON state. And the 2 screws on the left and right edges of the panel don't really do anything, so just tighten them enough to be flush with the top panel and no more.

Q: There is no Y-axis (forward/backward) response in one column or two neighboring columns, or one or more note pads in a column doesn't respond. Help!

A: This usually indicates that a panel screw is slightly loose, perhaps due to insufficient tightening after replacing the top panel. This is because the screws also press the sensor’s contacts against the mating contacts on the circuit board. So if too loose, they may not make contact, so Y-axis won’t work on the nearby column. Here’ s a guideline for tightening them correctly:

Loosen the screw, then while pressing down 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; there is only a problem if a screw is very tight or loose.

After tightening the screws, test Y-axis output on one pad within each column. If a column doesn’t send CC74 (default) in response, tighten the screw(s) above or below that column 1/4 or if needed 1/2 turn. To learn whether the loose screw is above or below the column, press on the panel above or below the column while testing Y-axis; if this makes Y-axis start working, tighten the screw nearest to where you pressed. Don’t overtighten or the silicone playing surface will bulge out and not look pretty. Also, don't over-tighten the screws near the Per-Split Settings or Global Settings buttons or they may stick in the ON state. And the 2 screws on the left and right edges of the panel don't really do anything, so just tighten them enough to be flush with the top panel and no more.

Q: When I connect power, all pads are red (or green or blue), or I see "FWUP" in large letters. Help!

A: If all pads are red when you power on, then the Per-Split Settings buttons is stuck in the pressed state, probably as aresult of high temperatures during shipping or in your environment, causing the silicone playing surface to expand around the 2 nearby screws, thereby forcing this button to stick in the ON state and when powered on, enter LinnStrument's Manufacturing Test Mode. Or if all lights turn green or blue at power-on, this is due to the Preset or Volume buttons also being stuck in the pressed state.

The solution is to loosen both of these screws nearest the Per-Split Settings button by 1/4 turn and reconnect power. If you see the normal scale lights, you've solved the problem. If not, try another 1/4 turn.

Or if you see "FWUP" in large letters when you connect power, then one of the 2 panel screws nearest to the GLOBAL SETTINGS button is too tight, forcing this button to stick in the ON state, causing LinnStrument to enter a special FirmWare UPdate mode that is only used during software development. The solution is to loosen both of these screws by 1/4 turn and reconnect power. If you see the normal scale lights, you've solved the problem. If not, try another 1/4 turn.

Here’ s a guideline for tightening these screws correctly:

Loosen the screw, then while pressing down 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; there is only a problem if a screw is very tight or loose.

After tightening the screws, test Y-axis output on one pad within each column. If a column doesn’t send CC74 (default) in response, tighten the screw(s) above or below that column 1/4 or if needed 1/2 turn. To learn whether the loose screw is above or below the column, press on the panel above or below the column while testing Y-axis; if this makes Y-axis start working, tighten the screw nearest to where you pressed. Don’t overtighten or the silicone playing surface will bulge out and not look pretty. Also, don't over-tighten the screws near the Per-Split Settings or Global Settings buttons or they may stick in the ON state. And the 2 screws on the left and right edges of the panel don't really do anything, so just tighten them enough to be flush with the top panel and no more.

Q: Sometimes when I play multiple pads, a note will stick on after release. This can happen anywhere on the playing surface. Wassup? 

A: The problem may be that 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, in LinnStrument's Channel Per Note (MPE) mode, it sends 3 continuous streams (X, Y and Z) for each touch. For example, 10 touches produces 30 continuous and simultaneous MIDI streams. While relatively new computers, DAWs and software synths 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 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 hard on one specific note pad on the playing surface and release it, the note (and the pad's light) stays on after release. Further, pressing one of the adjacent pads around it will often turn this stuck note (and the pad's light) off. What's wrong?
If your LinnStrument recently experienced unusually high heat and/or humidity, such as transport in a very hot shipping truck or being placed near a heater, airborne humidity can condense into moisture inside LinnStrument's touch sensor. Then if a specific note pad is subsequently played repeatedly, this can result in that note pad sticking in the ON state after release. If so, remove the LinnStrument from any unusual source of heat or humidity, and avoid the problem pad or at least play it lightly. If so, the problem should go away within a couple weeks as the moisture evaporates. If the problem doesn't correct itself, contact me (Roger) and I can suggest other possible solutions, including replacement of the touch sensor sheet that senses LinnStrument's entire playing surface. The essential problem is that it is difficult for LinnStrument's touch sensor to be both highly sensitive to very light touches and also insensitive to unusual environments.
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: I'm sorry to report that these are both fundamental electrical limitations of LinnStrument's touch sensing technology. They are stated on this FAQ page under the Pre-Sales Tab, FAQ "What are the limitations of LinnStrument's sensor technology?". 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, sometimes the pad at the 4th corner will light without pressing, or pressing the 4th pad will sometimes cause an adjacent pad to play. What's wrong?

A: This suggests that your sensor calibration is not accurate, perhaps because the sensor properties have changed slightly due to temperature or humidity. Try calibrating your LinnStrument as described on the Panel Settings page, Global Settings tab, Actions section, Calibrate subsection.

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. Such damage due to a cable pull is unfortunately not covered under your warranty. If your USB jack is damaged, you have three options:

1) You can have a local electronics repair shop replace the USB jack.
This is only possible if you have a LinnStrument 128, or a LinnStrument 200 with serial number 700 or higher. (LinnStrument 200 units with serial LNL00699 or lower use a surface-mount USB jack that requires option #2 below.) I (Roger) am happy to coordinate with your repair shop. Don't try this repair yourself unless you are skilled in desoldering multi-pin jacks like the USB jack. The difficulty is in unsoldering all 6 pins enough to remove the old jack, which is tricky and if done incorrectly, could damage the traces under the USB jack, requiring replacement of the entire main circuit board, which costs $460 for the large model or $300 for the LinnStrument 128. The USB jack is a TE Connectivity AMP 292304-1, which you can buy here. Or any USB jack with the same industry-standard pin location will work. Or I (Roger) can sell you one of the same USB jacks for my minimum parts charge of $20 + shipping.
To do the repair, click the "Installing Replacement Parts" link at left/top and follow the instructions for "Replacing a broken USB jack".

2) I (Roger) can send you a new circuit board that you can install yourself.
You can install the new board yourself in about 30 minutes by following a video, using only a screwdriver. (To see the installation instructions, click "Installing replacement parts" at left/top and read the section "Replacing either the Main (larger) or LED (smaller) circuit board".) Then you will return your circuit board with the damaged USB jack within 30 days. The cost for all LinnStrument 128 units, or for LinnStrument 200 units with serial LNL00700 or higher is $100 plus shipping both ways. The cost for LinnStrument 200 units with serial LNL0699 or lower is $200 plus shipping both ways.

3) We'll do the repair.
You can send your LinnStrument 200 or 128 to us and we'll do the repair then send it back fixed. The cost for all LinnStrument 128 units, or for LinnStrument 200 units with serial LNL00700 or higher is $100 plus shipping both ways. The cost for LinnStrument 200 units with serial LNL0699 or lower is $200 plus shipping both ways.

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: 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: First, verify that LinnStrument is receiving adequate power. Connect your USB cable directly to your computer's USB port or to a USB power adapter. Many of the low-cost, off-brand USB hubs often don't supply LinnStrument's minimum 300 mA of current.

Second, verify that LinnStrument's USB jack hasn't been damaged by an accidental sideways hard cable pull. Look inside LinnStrument's USB jack. You should see a black plastic rectangular block in the center. If you instead see 4 (or less) gold pins, the USB jack was damaged by a hard cable pull and isn't delivering power. If so, contact me (Roger) to discuss your repair options.

If the USB jack is OK and unit isn't functioning, then it's likely 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. Or you may have tried to update the software while supplying poor power.

The solution is simple: connect LinnStrument directly to your computer's USB port and update it to the current OS version, using the "Updating Software" link at left/above. It will still accept an OS update in this state and should return the LinnStrument to full function. 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.

To avoid this problem in future, it is important to provide LinnStrument with adequate power. Click the "Hooking It Up" link at left/above to learn how to insure you are providing adequate power.

Q: There is a very quiet acoustic noise coming from LinnStrument's playing surface when I press any note pads. Is this normal?

A: I’m sorry to say that faint acoustic noise is normal and also cannot be changed. It as a common artifact of high speed electronics, sometimes called “coil whine” or “singing capacitors” and is usually made quieter by enclosing the electronics in a metal chassis or other acoustic damping materials. However, this cannot be done in LinnStrument because the high-speed sensing electronics must be located directly below the playing surface in order to minimize noise signals, and the playing surface cannot be covered with a metal cage or acoustic damping materials because that's where you play. Fortunately, the noise is so quiet that it is easily masked by the sound of the played synthesizer.

Q: I've lost some of my screws. Where can I get replacements?

A: Yes. They are all avaiable at McMaster.com:
1) Top panel screws
2) Guitar strap button screws
3) Wood side screws
4) Wood side washers

Q: Around 3 to 5 pads at one end of one row aren't responding, or only respond to touches in a portion of the pad. What's wrong? 

This indicates that one of two connectors to LinnStrument's internal touch sensor sheet has some minor corrosion inside it. If you're certain that this is the exact symptom, the solution is to partially disassemble your LinnStrument and clean the connectors by removing the touch sensor sheet from its 2 connectors, then replacing it back into the same 2 connectors. To do this, click the link on this page for "Installing Replacement Parts" and read the section "Replacing the touch sensor sheet". Follow these instructions except instead of replacing the touch sensor sheet, simply remove then reinstall the same touch sensor sheet.

Or if you need a quick fix, you can do an "enhanced reset", which is the same as the Reset command in Global Settings, Actions column, but also resets your sensor calibration data to an average of all sensors. This should appear to solve the problem, but your LinnStrument won't be fully accurate until a new sensor calibration (in Global Settings, Actions column) is performed, which isn't possible without the above connector cleaning. Without full accuracy, you will likely experience problems with some notes within a chord not playing, playing wrongly, or nearby pads triggering falsely.

Q: There's something loose that slides around inside my LinnStrument when I move it. What's wrong?

I’m sorry about problem. There are 2 bags of silica desiccant duct-taped to the inside of the chassis to absorb moisture. Unfortunately, for some units of the production batch that included your LinnStrument, the assembler at my factory didn’t adequately press the pieces of duct tape to secure the desiccant bags, so they are sliding around inside the unit. I (Roger) did a quality inspection including a shake test, and my manufacturer did a pre-ship shake test, but apparently for your unit, the poorly-secured tapes came loose during shipping.

The solution is fairly simple: disassemble the unit, secure the loose tapes to the desiccant bags, then reassemble it. It should take about 30 minutes and requires only a screwdriver. Here's how:

Visit the "Installing Replacement Parts" page and read the section "Replacing either the Main (larger) or LED (smaller) circuit board”. In those instructions, follow steps 1 - 3, then you’ll see the unsecured desiccant pages and strips of duct tape inside your chassis. Press hard to secure the bags with the tapes in the positions shown in the photo below. Then continue the instructions starting with step 6.

Or if you prefer, email me (Roger) at the support address and I'm happy to arrange a day and time for me to step you through the process in a video call.

Q: The lights seem to be flickering. Can this be reduced? 
Q: When I make a video of LinnStrument, the lights flicker. How can I solve this?

LinnStrument has 208 RGB LEDs (equal to 624 individual LEDs) and LinnStrument 128 has 136 RGB LEDs (equal to 408 individual LEDs). This large number of LEDs requires higher power than USB can reliably provide. In order to draw low enough current for USB power, LinnStrument uses high-efficiency RGB LEDs but turns on only one column at a time. In LinnStrument, the lights are turned on for only 1/26 of the time (1/52 in Low Power mode). And for LinnStrument 128, the lights are on only 1/17 of the time (1/34 in Low Power mode). Due to persistence of vision, your eyes see this as continuous light. There are only two levels of brightness: Normal Power and Low Power (dimmed LEDs) modes.

For some people, this method causes a noticeable light flicker. Unfortunately, because this lighting method is controlled by hardware, it cannot be changed by a software update. A workaround to is to increase the ambient light in your room. This will cause your pupils to contract, effectively dimming the LEDs and making the flicker less noticeable.

Also, videos of LinnStrument can result in noticeable light flickering or pulsing on playback. This is caused by the camera's shutter being open for only a short portion of each video frame, so it can miss the short time that the lights are on. The solution is to increase the Shutter Speed on your video camera to stay open for longer, ideally for the entire frame. This will insure that the camera captures the brief period that the lights are on. For example, when shooting video at 30 frames per second, set your shutter speed to as close as possible to the 1/30 second, the full duration of each frame. If your camera doesn't have a Shutter Speed adjustment (as many mobile phone cameras don't), then reduce the light in the room. This will cause the camera to automatically increase the shutter speed in order to capture more light.

Q: The playing surface has become dirty. How do I clean it? 

If LinnStrument's touch surface gets dirty, it's easy to clean.

For removing small amounts of dust between the pads, a small hand-held vacuum cleaner works well. Or for deeper cleaning between the pads, use a toothbrush with a little soapy water on it, but be careful not to let water seep into the edges under the metal plate.

For the most thorough cleaning, remove the top panel and the silicone playing surface, then wash it with soapy water, dry it, replace it and reassemble your LinnStrument. To learn how to do this, click the "Installing Replacement Parts" link at left (or above on mobile) and read the section "Replacing the top panel or white playing surface". Follow the instructions for replacing the playing surface, but merely remove, clean and replace the playing surface.