Getting Started

To start making sounds quickly with your new LinnStrument or LinnStrument 128, watch the video below. Or read the text below the video.





1) Hook it up


Connect the included USB cable between LinnStrument's USB jack and your computer's USB jack. You should see "LinnStrument MIDI" among your DAW's listed MIDI ports. Then play. That's it.




A few tips:


1) If you wish to use the round MIDI jacks, in Global Settings > POWER/MIDI column, select MIDI JACKS. Only the USB jack or the MIDI jacks can be used at a time, you can' t use both at the same time.


2) To connect to an iPhone/iPad or for other types of connections, see the Hooking It Up page.


3) If you've changed some settings and are confused and want to reset LinnStrument to factory settings, here's now: In Global Settings > Actions column, press NOTES OFF and UPDATE OS at the same (the RESET command).


4) If you are having trouble getting sounds to play, visit our FAQ Page, select the "Troubleshooting" tab and read the FAQ "LinnStrument is not sending MIDI. What's wrong?"  If you're new to MIDI, here's a good basic tutorial.


5) To prevent damage to the USB jack from cable pulls–especially if playing LinnStrument in the standing position–tie your USB cable around the nearest guitar strap button to act as a strain relief, as shown at the bottom of the Hooking It Up page.


2) Select a sound in your recording software and play a few notes


By default, LinnStrument is configured to play nice with the common keyboard-focused presets of any MIDI sound generator. Try sliding your finger left and right to bend pitch. Try wiggling your finger left and right to perform vibrato.


By default, LinnStrument sends all notes over MIDI channel 1, sending standard Note On/Off messages with velocity, Pitch Bend messages from left/right finger movements with a bend range of +/- 2 semitones, Polyphonic Aftertouch from each finger's pressure variations, and Control Change 74 for finger forward/backward movements within the note pad. These default settings allow LinnStrument to work with the standard preset sounds of most MIDI sound generators, which are usually optimized for conventional MIDI piano keyboards. In Per-Split Settings, you can change any of these settings, including setting LinnStrument in Channel Per Note mode for MPE synths.





3) Where are the notes?


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


Click for location of common chords & scales


You can change the row tuning to guitar, cello/violin or other intervals by changing Global Settings / Row Offset. Or change the light colors in 'Per-Split Settings / Color'.






4) Download free LinnStrument-optimized sounds


When playing the standard keyboard-focused presets of most MIDI sound generators, you'll notice a few limitations:

1) Pitch slides are limited to 2 note pads left or right,
2) There is no response to finger pressure,
3) There is no response to forward/backward finger movement, and
4) Polyphonic pitch bends or Y-axis movements aren't possible.


The first three limitations are because the presets in most MIDI sound generators are optimized for standard MIDI keyboards, which don't have LinnStrument's expressive 3-dimensional advantages. Click here to learn how to edit your sounds to overcome these limitations.


To overcome all four limitations, you'll need a MIDI sound generator with MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) capability. Here's a list of MPE sound generators, including Apple's Logic Pro X and MainStage, and Bitwig Studio and 8-Track. 

For both mac and Windows users, a free license for Bitwig 8-Track is included with your LinnStrument purchase and includes a bank of LinnStrument-optimized sounds. Click here to learn how to get it.


For mac users, our best collection of LinnStrument-optimized sounds is available as a free download for Apple's $200 Logic Pro X or $30 MainStage 3. (Here's the Logic Pro X file and here's the MainStage 3 file.) The sounds in these two files are identical and are optimized for polyphonic 3-dimensional control using LinnStrument's Channel-Per-Note (MPE) mode. To play these sounds, set LinnStrument to MPE mode:


In Per-Split Settings > MIDI Mode column, hold ChPerNote (Channel Per Note) for 1 second. This will change all necessary settings for MPE play.


If you've loaded our LinnStrument-optimzed sounds for Logic or MainStage, let's try out full three-dimensional touch control, moving beyond simple velocity. Select one of the synth sounds in the file and try move your finger in one of the following three ways:


1) Pressure (Z axis)

Varying finger pressure (Z axis) controls note loudness, sent using MIDI Channel Pressure messages. You can also set LinnStrument to send pressure using Polyphonic Pressure or any Control Change message.


2) Left-Right (X axis)

Wiggle your finger for vibrato, or sliding left/right up to two octaves to perform pitch slides. X axis movements are always sent using MIDI Pitch Bend messages.


3) Forward/Back (Y axis)

These movements are normally send using Control Change 74, but can also be sent using any Control Change message or Channel Pressure or Polyphonic Pressure.


To learn how to change the MIDI messages used to send LinnStrument's dimensions, see the Panel Settings page, Per-Split Settings tab, then search the page for the headings "Bend Range", "Pitch/X", "Timbre/Y", and "Loudness/Z".


You can find more information about the pluses and minuses of various DAWs and sound generators for use with LinnStrument on our Recommended Sounds page.


Update (December 2019): One of my new favorite synths is Surge, a software plug-in synth that runs on Mac, Windows and Linux, is highly capable, open source and FREE. Learn more and download it here. I've even created some good MPE sounds for it.






5) Try a few other features


Once you've got the above basics down and you're feeling a little adventurous, try out a few of LinnStrument's other novel features:


> Split keyboard.

> Change the octave or transposition with the OCTAVE/TRANSPOSE button.

> Adjust the volume using the VOLUME button.

> Change the colors of the note lights.

> Connect a foot pedal for sustain and other actions.

> Try out the Arpeggiator.

> Try out the Low Row feature, which changes the lowest row into a control strip for use as a sustain pedal, arpeggiator ON switch, a strumming surface for notes fingered in the opposite split, and other novel uses.

> Use the CC Faders feature, in which one split can be used as 8 horizontal faders for Control Change 1 through 8.

> Adjust the touch sensitivity for either velocity or pressure.

> If you ever are confused and want to return LinnStrument to its factory settings, you can perform a RESET.


To learn about other features of LinnStrument, visit the Panel Settings page.


Roger Linn Design

Los Altos, CA