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RCA Theremin for sale on eBay

RCA Theremin on eBay

An original RCA theremin was listed for sale on eBay today, complete with an RCA speaker and a colletion of spare tubes! This one appears to be in decent physical condition. The listing says it "Works well and sounds very nice".

The auction is set to end on September 27th and has a current bid of $1000 at the time of this posting.

Of course, if you already have enough RCA theremins, why not look for other theremin bargains on our theremin auction page.


nickykay 9/25/2009 11:34 AM
Gosh, only a couple of days left! I keep counting my pennies, but I can't catch up with the bids. Sigh ...
Jason 9/25/2009 9:02 PM
Using my hypnotic powers to get the seller to donate this beautiful instrument to Theremin World for preservation's sake... ooooeeeeooooo....
Thomas Grillo
Thomas Grillo 9/26/2009 1:15 PM
I dread knowing what the actual reserve is, because it's still not yet met.

Jason, good luck on getting the owner to donate the theremin. :)
hypergolic 9/26/2009 8:32 PM
FredM 9/27/2009 7:56 PM
One hour to go.. $4k and reserve not yet met.. OooAaarghh.. Every time I look at it I want to bid - but with the extra $1k for transporting it, and the extra $20k+ for the resulting divorce, i'd better not! ;-)
coalport 9/28/2009 6:21 AM
The RCA theremin for sale on eBay did not sell. The reserve (which the seller never revealed) was not met and the last bid was for $5,125.55 US.

Jason 9/29/2009 10:43 PM
I suppose we can only speculate what the reserve price was. It will be interesting to see if this unit re-appears on eBay or in another boutique auction house. In this economy, $5k seems like a decent price for an RCA, but with EW Pro's selling for nearly as much, perhaps the seller was hoping for much much more.

If the seller DOES wish to donate this theremin to Theremin World, we'd be happy to give it a good home and we promise not to dissect it for the sake of science! Well, if we do, we'll put it back together just the way we found it - promise!
Etherspiel 9/30/2009 12:43 AM
$5000 seems like a good price to get for an old RCA. The last one went for around $3500, which seems more realistic to me. I'm suprised the seller didn't accept the high bid.
FredM 9/30/2009 2:32 AM
To be honest, I am surprised the bidding didnt go a lot higher.. I would not have been shocked if it went above $10k. This Theremin looked to be in almost perfect condition - complete with original speaker.. For any Theremin player with some spare money to invest (perhaps we are all paupers! ;-) this would seem like a wise purchase.

I only hope there are still some for sale when I have enough money to buy one.. :-(

Off topic.. Does anyone know of a source for quality recordings of a RCA played through its original amplifier / speaker? Ideally this would be without any backing music, in a studio environment, recorded with a high quality microphone by an engineer who knew what he/she was doing, and without any equalisation or coloration of any kind applied.. Also, with the recordings covering the full range of the Theremin. ? . This is the main reason I want a RCA or access to a RCA - I want to sample these waveforms, analyse them, and be sure my Theremin is able to replicate them.. It is difficult to be sure when working with waveforms derived from old recordings with backing music.
dae23 9/30/2009 9:24 AM
I've been wanting to hear a clean recording of the original speaker myself.
dae23 9/30/2009 12:29 PM
I just talked with a Theremin World member who has an RCA and the Radiola 106 speaker who might be able to record them and share the results when he gets the time.

FredM 9/30/2009 5:24 PM
Woooeee! That would be great!

I would be more than happy to pay for a comprehensive set of good recordings.. Free is better ;-) but to do a task like this well will take a lot of time and effort. If one wants to buy a CD of good quality, comprehensive samples of other instruments, one expects to pay for it (prices for some can be quite high).. I have not seen any sample CD's for the Theremin.

In fact, there is probably a reasonable market for a sample CD containing samples of a collection of Theremins - RCA, Moog (particularly the rarer ones), and others.

If the samples started at the lowest note, played for a few seconds with volume going from softest to loudest, without vibrato (so that any harmonic changes occuring as a function of volume were captured) and then did the same for a following musical interval (ideally a semitone), and continued this right up to the highest note, such a set of samples could possibly be used in a sample player.. This is not what I plan to do.. but I see no reason why others shouldnt.
coalport 10/1/2009 6:28 AM

Given that the paper cones in vintage speakers degrade over time, how close will the sound of an original theremin speaker be after eighty years?
dae23 10/1/2009 7:37 AM
That crossed my mind, too.

I would imagine that a good condition original, or a properly reconed speaker in the original cabinet might at least give one a better idea of what it sounded like then just sitting around thinking about, though.

Jeff S
Jeff S 10/1/2009 8:02 AM
The samples will also be colored* by the equipment used for playback, most notably the speakers. Not to mention the microphone and other equipment used for recording. Compressing the audio to other formats will affect the sound as well.

I'm not trying to discourage you. These are all minor issues. I just think it needs to be mentioned.

*Or "coloured" for some of you.
dae23 10/1/2009 1:45 PM
The only real way to hear it would be standing right there in the room (circa 1930)
but since they're so hard to come by, recording and digitizing would be in order.

I'm just thinking it would be cool and useful to have a good, clean, solo recording of the first commercial theremin "setup" available for all to analyze, sample, what have you, for a price or free as long as it's out there.

Probably one recording with the speaker and one direct or through a full range setup would be even better for comparing and such.

I'd hate to see some day in the future when all the first theremins are dead and gone and someone goes "Man, I wish someone had made a really clean, technical recording of one of those".

But mainly I just want to hear it through the speaker :)

coalport 10/2/2009 6:12 AM
Several years ago, I did a recording comparing the sound of Samuel Hoffman's RCA as it is today, and as it was in 1957 when he played SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME on the Mickey Mouse Club TV show. Several people had remarked that the sound of Hoffman's instrument was very different today when compared with old recordings and wanted to know what had been changed.

Nothing had been changed. The "vintage" sound all had to do with the equally vintage recording equipment used in the 40's & 50's. In order to emulate that sound, I put the modern digital recording through an FX program called "Vintage Radio" and the RCA sounded exactly like it did 50 years ago.

What I did on the recording, was to start with the original Mickey Mouse Club soundtrack, and gradually fade it into the modern version.

It might be fun to do it again sometime on video. I could place the instrument in the same position as it was for the show in 1957, using the same camera angles, and cross dissolve the audio and video from the old to the new - maybe in B&W......

FredM 10/2/2009 3:43 PM
I have continued this sub-topic (hijack) here..RCA Sounds / Recordings / Samples (http://www.thereminw...)
grangran5 2/11/2014 11:53 PM
I have a theremin that is exactly like the one pictured above. It belonged to my grandfather and was given to him by a member of the New York Phil I wish I knew the gentleman's name but it was not mentioned in the newspaper article which included a photo of my grandfather playing. I am at this time in the process of researching the value of these, and would like to put it up for sale, any information would really be appreciated. Thank You Sandi

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