Posted: 1/26/2011 9:11:40 PM

From: Oahu, Hawaii

Joined: 1/23/2011

I recently purchased a Burns B3 Deluxe. I am trying to decide what type of amp I need. I have read about people using PA systems en leu of a theremin or keyboard amp. I only need something to learn it on, and I will not be playing any concerts. I currently have a guitar amp, but it doesn't sound too great. I have seen many theremins online sound somewhat like a stringed instrument. What do they use for that? Which would be better in my situation? PA or Theremin amp or keyboard amp?

Thank you for any insight you may have for a noobie!
Posted: 1/27/2011 4:39:08 AM

From: A Coruña, Spain

Joined: 9/26/2010


I play a standard B3 through a Peavey KB-1 amp, and I'm very satisfied with the sound. That said, I'm new and I haven't had the chance to compare many amps, so you shouldn't trust that opinion much.

In my opinion, the B3 sound benefits a lot from a reverb effect. I route the signal through my PC to add reverb with Guitar Rig before going to the amp. But if you cannot or don't want to do that, you may consider buying an amp with built-in reverb (the KB-1 doesn't have it).
Posted: 1/27/2011 9:14:06 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I don't have a Burns theremin, so my thoughts should be taken with that in mind.

The advice I was given when I started was to get an amp designed for an acoustic instrument, and that has served me well.

I was very pleased with my Fender Frontman 15R and it was plenty until my ambitions grew (which took about a year.) Now I have an SR Technologies Jam 150 Plus and it sounds great to my ears.

I agree with AlKhwarizmi that reverb is good with theremins.

I suggest not rushing to buy a new amp. A lot of the sound of the theremin depends on the skill of the player - once you have acquired some skills, then take your instrument to a local music shop and try out a few amps and see which you like.

Not sure what you mean by a PA - in my mind a public address system is a thing with lots of megaphone style speakers that is not well suited to music. Wikipedia defines it as "is an electronic amplification system with a mixer, amplifier and loudspeakers, used to reinforce a sound source, e.g., a person giving a speech, a DJ playing prerecorded music, and distributing the sound throughout a venue or building."

If you mean "a [i]self-contained[/i] electronic amplification system with a mixer, amplifier and loudspeakers" then I would call that a "combi" - my Jam 150 Plus is a combi - it is occasionally handy to be able to plug a mic and/or another instrument at the same time.

(Also, not knowing the Burns instruments or your amp, it is possible that the signal level from the theremin is simply too strong for your amp and the sound is being clipped.)
Posted: 1/27/2011 9:16:36 AM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

Well, since you didn't tell us which guitar amp you're using, we really have nothing specific to base our comments on.

A guitar amp can work well for a theremin depending on the sound you are looking for. Guitar amps can be variable since they are often sold by claiming their own unique "tone". Guitar amps have greater roll-off at the high and low ends of the spectrum as compared to a keyboard amp or PA. Thats not necessarily a bad thing depending on your goal and taste.

Generally speaking, an amp for a theremin should have at least a 12" (300mm) speaker for a full, rich tone. At 8" (200mmm) and below, the sounds gets more "buzzy". In any event, a good set of tone controls on the amp is quite helpful.

Don't forget, the sound you are hearing on the internet may be "colored" by the amp/speaker used and by the microphone used (if they're not recording direct). The microphones on most digital video cameras are not very good at all, and if they've used their cellphone it's even worse.
Posted: 1/27/2011 3:27:10 PM

From: Oahu, Hawaii

Joined: 1/23/2011

The amp I have is a Washburn Bad Dog BD-12. The low notes and high notes just don't seem to sound right to me. I was watching the lessons video from Thomas Guillo. His B3 deluxe sounds like a stringed instrument to me.
Posted: 1/27/2011 3:54:47 PM

From: Oahu, Hawaii

Joined: 1/23/2011

Sorry for double post.
Posted: 1/28/2011 12:12:00 AM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

Well, the Washburn seems to have an adequate EQ section. The speaker is a bit small though. Your not going to get the smoothest low end out of that. Exactly what problems do you perceive at the low and high ends?

Could you tell us which videos impressed you? I listened to several, but I didn't think the Burn's theremin sounded particularly string-like. It does have a nice tone though. Keep in mind that how it's played is as important as what it's played on.

One thing I would recommend is to keep the GAIN very low or at zero if possible. That "rabid tone" may be nice for a guitar, but perhaps not so nice for the theremin. Keep the gain down and use only the volume knob to control volume. Play with the tone controls to see if you can improve your tone.
Posted: 1/28/2011 1:20:46 AM

From: Oahu, Hawaii

Joined: 1/23/2011

Maybe the issues with sound quality that I am experiencing are being caused by the gain. I have had to have the gain quite high and the volume maxed in order to get a useful amount of sound out of the amp. Maybe the AMP is not loud enough?
Posted: 1/28/2011 8:40:16 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

muaddib, if you turn that damn amp up any higher you will awaken Shai Hulud!
Posted: 1/28/2011 3:13:27 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

"Father....The sleeper has awaken!!!"

While the amp is only 12 watts, that *should* be enough to get a decent volume, even without the gain turned up.

The Burns B3 has a very smooth sound (to me), so just a touch of gain might give it a little 'edge' and make it more interesting. Only you can judge.

Well, if the amp is not loud enough for your taste, there are a couple of options. You can move the amp up and closer to your head. Or, you can use headphones, which should offer more than enough volume.

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