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LinnDrum digital drum machine front panel .jpg
LinnDrum digital drum machine
ManufacturerLinn Electronics
PriceUS $2,995
Technical specifications
Polyphonypolyphonic 12 voices
Timbralitymultitimbral 15 voices
Synthesis type8-bit digital samples, 28–35 kHz
Storage memory56 user patterns, 42 preset drum patterns, 49 songs
EffectsIndividual level and pan for all sounds, tuning for snare, tom and conga only
Keyboard15 hard plastic "pads"
External controlDIN sync (pre-MIDI), third-party MIDI Retrofit Kit, trigger inputs x5

The LinnDrum is a drum machine manufactured by Linn Electronics between 1982 and 1985. About 5,000 units were sold.[1][2]

Its high-quality samples, flexibility and affordability made the LinnDrum popular; it sold far more units than its predecessor (the LM-1) and its successor (the Linn 9000) combined.[2] Roger Linn re-used the moniker on the LinnDrum Midistudio and the Roger Linn Designs' LinnDrum II. The LinnDrum was used on many recordings throughout the 1980s, including international hits such as Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax", a-Ha's "Take On Me", Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F", Tears for Fears' "Shout", Deniece Williams's "Let's Hear it for the Boy", and Madonna's "Lucky Star".

When Linn Electronics closed in 1986, Forat Electronics purchased its assets[3] and offered service, sounds and modifications for the LinnDrum.[4] The LinnDrum was pre-MIDI, using a DIN sync interface,[5] but MIDI Retrofit Kits were offered by JL Cooper[6] and Forat Electronics.[4]


The LinnDrum has fifteen 8-bit 28 kHz ~ 35 kHz digitally sampled drum sounds: bass drum, snare, side-stick snare, hi-hat, crash cymbal, ride cymbal, three tom-toms, cabasa, tambourine, high and low congas, cowbell, and hand-claps. Like the LM-1, it provided a sequencer for programming rhythm patterns, a built-in mixer and individual output jacks for each sound.

The LinnDrum cost $2,000 less than the LM-1, but improved upon the LM-1 in many ways, including the addition of crash and ride cymbal samples, five external trigger inputs, and the option to replace the original sounds with new sounds via EPROM chips. Whereas the LM-1 allows every sound to be individually tuned however, the LinnDrum allows only the snare and rimshot can be tuned together, while the tom and conga samples can be tuned separately. The LinnDrum hi-hats permit a decay adjustment, allowing for more versatility. For LinnDrum users that desire more flexibility, a third-party modification allows more sounds to be tuned individually, as with the LM-1.


The LinnDrum was designed by Roger Linn. According to Linn, his company started out as a one-product company, depending on the success of the LM-1. He was inspired to design a successor after a NAMM show where he met Roland Corporation founder Ikutaro Kakehashi, who encouraged him to "move beyond being a one-product company so that a slowdown of my one product does not take the company down".[7]

Drum samples[edit]

According to some,[who?] the LinnDrum sounds were sampled from real drums played specifically for the machine by Los Angeles drummer Art Wood, a friend of Linn, who played with Linn and musicians including Peter Frampton, Gary Wright, Cher, Tina Turner, Bette Midler and James Brown.[8] However, "The LM-1 was the first drum machine to use samples of a real drum kit, Roger Linn confirms that it was indeed Art Wood session drummer that played the majority of the sounds that he used.[9] To further add to the mystery, an entry in the online museum of the Roger Linn Design company credits L.A. session drummer Art Wood with most of the samples."[1] While the Roger Linn Designs Past Products Museum page credits Art Wood for "most" of the LM-1 sounds, there is no credit for the drummer who played the sounds for the LinnDrum.


  1. ^ a b "Linn Electronics LinnDrum at Vintage Synth Explorer". Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b Linn, Roger. "Past Products Museum". Roger Linn Designs. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Then in 1986 Forat Electronics Corporation was born after purchasing Linn's remaining assets..." Forat Electronics - History.
  4. ^ a b "Forat Electronics LinnDrum".
  5. ^ Happy birthday MIDI 1.0: Slave to the rhythm, The Register
  6. ^ "LINN LM-2 Drum Machine with JL Cooper Midi Mod & Instructions". MATRIXSYNTH. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  7. ^ Roger Linn, In Memory of Ikutaro Kakehashi, Roger Linn Design
  8. ^ "Art Wood has full credit for programming the drum sounds for the Linn Drum Machine..." Linn Electronics LinnDrum at Vintage Synth Explorer. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  9. ^ Hey, what's that sound: Linn LM-1 Drum Computer and the Oberheim DMX by David McNamee The Guardian

External links[edit]