What’s a Linnstrument And Why You Need One


Thales Matos


The Linnstrument is an expressive MIDI controller. It quickly became the only controller I need to produce pop music, play virtual instruments and even finger drum.

Playing the linnstrument

It was designed by Roger Linn — the same guy behind the LinnDrum. And I believe from the bottom of my heart this is the future of musical instruments.

roger linn - linnstrument

Roger Linn

This article is not sponsored — it's just a Linnstrument review and the testimonial of a very happy customer.

How the Linnstrument works

The Linnstrument has 200 note pads that send MIDI messages and it's entirely powered by USB. Each pad respond to 3 dimensions of finger movement.

Pressure, which allows for dynamics control.

Pitch, by moving from left to right — without the need for a bend wheel —, which means you can easily play vibratos by just wiggling your finger.

And the forward and backward movement or y-axis usually controls timbre, some sort of tonal change of the instrument or whatever you configure on your synthesizer or sampler.

All those things combined mean that you can have very fluid, very natural sounding control of sampled instruments.

Why I bought a Linnstrument

I bought this because I wanted to have a MIDI controller that allows for slides and vibratos, since I have a guitar and bass background.

A keyboard controller doesn't give you the freedom of sliding through the notes, especially because of the placement of the notes.

The white keys and black keys are not equally spaced.

keyboard design - notes are not equally spaced

The keyboard pattern is not as simple as a guitar string, for example, in which every chromatic note is just one fret away from the next one, in a linear way.

guitar shape - equally spaced notes pattern

What makes the Linnstrument even more special is how the notes are arranged.

How notes are arranged on a Linnstrument 

It's a grid. Each row is like a string with two octaves of consecutive semitones.

Photo I borrowed from Roger Linn Design's website: www.rogerlinndesign.com

And you can tune them however you want, but the default configuration works like bass strings — but 8 strings instead of the usual 4 or 5. 

It basically behaves like an 8-strings bass, which is perfect.

This configuration makes a lot of sense because any chord you play has the same pattern and shape in any key.

Just think about a keyboard and how the finger placement of a C major chord is entirely different from a C# major, and from almost all the other major chords.

C major and C sharp major - entirely different shapes

The lights on a Linnstrument can display scales

Now the best feature! You can use the lights to display any scale in whatever key you want.

In my set up, the green lights are a major scale while the blue lights actually pinpoint the tonic note.

You get to choose which scale and which key your lights display. I picked the major scale in the key of C for simplicity but it could be anything.

Isn't that cool?

It's so visual and easy for learning intervals, chords, playing melodies and obviously, recording MIDI messages in your DAW.

All that besides the fact that you can perform polyphonic pitch bends in different directions at the same time.

Why I recommend the Linnstrument

Have you ever wished something existed but never knew it actually did? That's how I felt about the Linnstrument, so getting one was a no-brainer.

And it was worth every penny.

I've been using it to record all the instruments in my songs ever since I got it. Not only bass, guitar and synthesizers but also drums, violin, cello, brass...

There's a video where Roger Linn plays a bunch of different sounds with the Linnstrument, like slide guitars, harmonicas, upright bass etc.

And it took me so much research to even find it, it's like a secret thing.

I had to go through many MIDI controllers that "kind of" did what I wanted but not really. They always had a flaw that kept the magic from happening.

Some of them even allowed for slides and vibratos but in a weird shape. Some had the same linear pad configuration but you couldn't perform a vibrato.

So after a lot of disappointment, I found the Linnstrument — and I was glad I kept researching.

As soon as I watched Roger's videos, I knew it was exactly what I needed to allow my ideas to flow without limitations during my production process.

Who should get a Linnstrument 

I strongly recommend this for anyone that's making music with a MIDI controller or wants to learn how to play an instrument and doesn't know which one to choose.

Every musician should get one of these. Honestly, I think it should and will be way more popular.

I believe the Linnstrument should become the main instrument used to teach kids music in schools everywhere.

People need to find out about it — it makes learning music so much easier.

I wish I had one growing up. I learned with guitars and keyboards, and they were fine. But this is the next level. 

I feel like now I can play any instrument, as long as I get a hold of the samples and connect them to my Linnstrument.

Extra features worth mentioning

By the way it has an arpeggiator that's really cool, and you can split the screen in half to play 2 different sounds or to strum like a guitar.

You can even hold it like a guitar because it has strap buttons on the sides.

It also has a lot more features that you can check on their website.

Now it's your turn to try the Linnstrument

Thanks for reading this testimonial and review of the Linnstrument. I'm just grateful someone came up with this instrument. It's magical.

As always, if you have any questions, let me know in the comment section below.

For pop music production tips and tutorials, visit my website.


Thales Matos

August 9, 2022


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