Which theremin should I pick??

Posted: 1/20/2011 10:41:45 AM

From: NYC

Joined: 1/19/2011

Hi! I discovered the theremin last week on the big bang theory and decided that I have to have one. I'm miffed that I didn't know of this incredible instrument sooner. I have great visions for the types of music and performances I can put together with this amazing device!

So, the question is, which will be the most bang for my buck? I ordered the Paia Theremax kit, because the description assured me that the assembly requires no previous electronics experience, and I'd read good things about it. However, the kits are on backorder for a couple weeks so that gives me some time to consider other options. There's the Burns B3 deluxe, which is around the same price and comes fully assembled, and I've found a Big Briar Moog for a good deal as well.

Which would be the best option for a beginner? I read the buying guide, but I'm not sure how each of these machines compare in all of the given categories. Thanks, any advice is much appreciated!
Posted: 1/20/2011 3:59:41 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

Which gives you the most bang for the buck?

Well, the short answer would probably be a used standard Moog/Big Briar Etherwave. Mainly because it offers a range of timbres that some others may not.

But there are other factors, such as playability, linearity, timbre, availability, cost and style of music you want to play that must be factored in.

The Paia Theremax kit may seem like a bargain, but make no mistake - there's more to building a working theremin than slapping some electronic components together. It has proven to be a challenge for more than one enthusiastic beginner. But, if you choose to go that route, there are people here who can assist you should you run into a problem.
Posted: 1/20/2011 10:18:35 PM

From: Toledo, Ohio United States of America

Joined: 2/22/2006

The PAiA ThereMax has playable linearity. And, a tone--- when modified per the various pages found at PAiA's website and ThereminWorld--- that approaches the RCA Theremins, and tones beyond.
The ThereMax is a relatively easy build; however: some previous experience in circuit board soldering and schematic reading would be a positive asset to the kit builder.
That being said, technical support at PAiA is outstanding!
I have a PAiA ThereMax. I built it with many "mods" and it works wonderfully! It is also been upgraded to MIDI control.
Good Luck!
Posted: 1/21/2011 5:40:17 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Hey, atrain, why not play the theremin Sheldon played in BBT? The Moog Etherwave. It is an excellent instrument and if money is a factor you could probably find a used one on eBay.
Posted: 6/2/2011 6:28:49 AM

From: ireland

Joined: 6/2/2011

hi im planning on buying a theremin in the coming days and the best choice for me seems to be a burns b3 delux but i dont know anything bout how it plays and i can really find a good review can anyone help?for 200 dollars is that good and is der any other theremin that would be around the same price but better?
Posted: 6/2/2011 7:46:34 AM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

The Burns B3 DeLuxe is the best theremin that you can get for about 200$. But... depending on your musical and technical ambitions you risk to think soon that you should rather have spent 400$ for a Moog Etherwave which has better linearity, tone controls and a bigger pitch range.
Posted: 6/2/2011 8:29:56 AM

From: ireland

Joined: 6/2/2011

ya thats true thanks! i was planning on getting a marshall mg101fx for my guitar how well would that work with a theremin? would i have to change anything on the theremin to conect it to it or effects pedals too?
Posted: 6/2/2011 9:35:22 AM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

You should know that theremins have a line level output such as a keyboard. So a guitar or bass amplifier risks to produce a bad sound and distortion due to the too high input voltage. Out of that most guitar and bass amplifiers have a frequency response correction in order to compensate the somewhat higher output level of inductive pickups at higher frequencies which risks to make the theremin sound muffled or at least less brilliant even if you resolve the input voltage problem, i.e. by using a passive volume/attenuator pedal before you send the signal through any component which expects only the smaller guitar-like input voltage.

That's why most theremin players prefer to work with keyboard amps or combos. That makes things much easier. There are device like the Behringer K-450FX which even have about 100 selectable effects (phaser, reverb, delay etc.) integrated which makes the transport and setup much easier.

Others use a small mixing table and one ore two active speakers like the Yamaha MSP3. I saw (and tried out) this setup when I was invited to spend a weekend at a Swiss thereminist's home and I found the sound very pleasing.

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