Which theremin is best for me?

Posted: 8/30/2007 5:16:18 PM

Joined: 8/30/2007

I've very interested in buying a theremin. I currently play drums and guitar (so I have an amp already).

But now its time to choose which theremin to buy. I wont be buying it today, but plan to possibly buy one in the next month or two.

The theremins Kees Enkelaar makes seem very tempting, but so does buying a Paia without a case and making my own case.

For the Paia, is it easy to build? I dont know all that much about electronics.

But my big question, are there any other recomendations/important information when buying a theremin?

Moog ones seem cool, but I'd rather not spend $300+ on an instrument im new to, and might not like, although from what I've heard and seen, it seems like an awesome instrument.
Posted: 8/30/2007 6:28:06 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Welcome to ThereminWorld!

Honestly I'm biased towards Moogs as the best available on the market today.

But while waiting for the players of others to chime in, some other info is on the TW
Guide to Buying a Theremin
by Jason
it's a good primer.
keep us posted on your choice and your playing.
Posted: 8/30/2007 6:28:21 PM

From: Brussels, Belgium

Joined: 8/27/2007

ooh you'll like it...

I never ever practiced my piano, and now i barely practice my singing, but for sure, theremins are addictive :(
Posted: 8/30/2007 9:01:42 PM

From: Toledo, Ohio United States of America

Joined: 2/22/2006

I have built a Theremax, built a case, and made mods to the kit. Mods both suggested by PAiA as well as the esteemed Kevin Kissinger that posts regularly to these forums. Mods that consist of timbre changes and pitch preview.
The Theremax is a very good starter Theremin. The kit is an easy to moderate project, but, PAiA has written a construction manual that is darn near idiot-proof,(I am an Idiot!). The customer support is super top notch, available via email from PAiA, if you should have a problem. I love my Theremax almost every day, but never touch her, but I still make her and me, squeal with delight! Hee!
Good Luck!
Posted: 8/31/2007 1:40:30 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

I completely understand the motivation of people who want to attempt to build their own theremin to save some money. I'm all for trying new things. Experience is a great teacher and creates lasting memories. (Not recommended for potentially lethal activities however.)

But, all too often, it is attempted by people with little or no electronic knowledge or experience. With finicky circuitry like the theremin, it may set one up for disappointment. The same can be said for cheaper, "just barely" theremins.

Many people have said, "I don't want to spent so much for a....,what if I find out I don't like it?"

The fact that you'd even consider buying or playing the theremin indicates to me that you already "like it" (are interested).

I think the real issue is whether or not your understanding of the theremin is clear and your expectations are realistic.

If your expectations are to be able to flawlessly play Hungarian Dance No. 5 from the get go (if ever), you're guaranteed not to "like it".

In my opinion, the BEST thing to do would be to try to hook up with someone local who owns a theremin who might let you take it for a test drive (in their presence). I would imagine most theremin owners would enjoy sharing their enthusiasm with other people.

If you are at least mildly serious about learning electronics, by all means buy and build a kit.

If you are not interested in playing traditionally structured music, by all means consider a fully functional, but lower priced model. This can also be an option for the former, but will probably not be as satisfactory for the long term.
Posted: 8/31/2007 2:05:40 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

Just a word about the Moog Etherwave Theremin...

The Moog Etherwave (standard) is without a doubt considered to be the defacto "silver standard" for theremins. It is a very good compromise of cost and functionality. It is a specialized piece of electronic equipment and is therefore a bit more pricy that one might feel it should be. However, compared to any other mid-range musical instrument, the price is reasonable.

One thing to keep in mind is that while used standard Etherwaves show up for sale regularly on eBay, they hold their value quite well. Rarely, when one is offered in good physical and playable condition, does it sell for far less than a new one. I got lucky and snagged one for a lower than average price.

Another thing to remember is that Moog Music is a small company and (to this point) the only one to offer quality amateur, and occasionally professional quality, theremins on a consistant basis. For them to consider catering to such a small group of enthusiasts in the future, they need our support.
Posted: 8/31/2007 4:27:44 PM

From: Undisclosed location without Dick Cheney

Joined: 2/21/2005

It's something that bothers me about a lot of conversations I have with people in person about my theremin.

People ask where to get one and how much it costs, I tell them Moog and about $400 (US) for the instrument plus about $150 for the amp, stand, and cable required. They then proceed to ask me what a *basic* Theremin costs, and I tell them that *is* the basic Theremin, and that I can't recommend anything cheaper as being playable.

That's not what bothers me. What bothers me is that they then proceed to try to wheedle me into agreeing that something cheaper can be just as good. I don't agree. Some people will say "oh, but I heard you can get a kit for like $80." Sure, I tell them, but that doesn't make it playable. And then they continue to argue with me about it. Usually, I end it by telling them they should try to import a Kees, if they can get one, if Kees is accepting orders, which he often isn't. Sometimes this gives them the clue that I'm not kidding, when the answer is "well there's this guy in Australia who makes them by hand..."

I don't exactly want to say "YOU MUST BUY AN ETHERWAVE AND NOTHING ELSE IS GOOD ENOUGH." I keep in mind that I haven't heard every possible model and that some may be playable that I wouldn't expect... like the B3. I would have guessed that the B3 would be unplayable, but Thomas Grillo proved that it isn't. (By the way Thomas, I was very impressed with your video of Vocalise on the B3 on Youtube!) But at the same time, I think there's such strong general agreement that the Etherwave is the standard beginner instrument that it bothers me a lot when people want to argue with me about it.

I think it's sort of a Wal-mart mindset... no matter what something actually costs, people have become convinced that there must be a cheaper one out there, and so when something really does start at $550, they just don't believe it because they're used to getting anything they want for $19.95 (even if it is garbage and will break in six months). One guy who got particularly obnoxious about it with me, I pointed out to him that this is a serious, real musical instrument, like a piano, and asked him how much he thought he could get a piano for. (The correct answers start at about $1500 US.) He started whining about cheap electronic keyboards and I said no, a *piano*, a big wood thing with strings and hammers inside, a keboard is not a piano and you're not going to see a $50 Casio keyboard at a Boston Pops concert. He got peeved and stormed off.

I guess what makes me upset about it is that when I say something is true, and people argue with me about it, it means they assume I'm either stupid or lying.
Posted: 8/31/2007 5:56:45 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

ah yes... well,
musical instruments are special
often hand assembled things.
I have spent as much or more
on others.
if you want to play something
and are a beginner
sometimes the 'more affordable'
options are harder to play.
my Dad said
buy the best and you'll
rarely be disappointed.
not for everyone
but for me music
is worth it.
Posted: 8/31/2007 11:49:15 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Compared with just about any musical instrument a theremin is inexpensive.

Yes, there are cheaper theremins than the Moog instruments however one's ability to play is compromised on a less expensive model.

One could quite easily spend more to purchase a wooden flute than the Etherwave Standard starter kit (that includes an amplifier).

Posted: 9/1/2007 7:24:10 AM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

"You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!"

Ha ha haaaaaaaaaa!

"Buy the best and you'll rarely be disappointed."

Right on! That's always been my mantra...at least the best within my means and for the right reasons. I've always felt it is false economy to judge everything on price alone.

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