Is this normal for a moog Etherwave? - volume antenna issue

Posted: 11/17/2007 12:52:24 PM

From: Farnham, UK

Joined: 11/17/2007

Hi all,

I'm a new player and have got a wonderful 'walnut' version of the moog standard etherwave, which I've been getting to grips with for the last month or so.

My question is, I find that when I 'touch' the volume antenna, I often get a 'squeak' as I touch it. I've seen many videos of people online who seem to touch the antenna as part of their playing technique, which leads me to think that the 'squeak' shouldn't happen.

The most annoying part of this is that when you finish playing something with a nice diminuendo, if you then touch the antenna, it completely spoils the performance.

I have checked that the antenna isn't loose.

Any words of guidance are gratefully received.

Posted: 11/17/2007 1:25:43 PM

From: Undisclosed location without Dick Cheney

Joined: 2/21/2005

Yes, that's normal to have a squeak or click or something like that when you touch the volume antenna.

If you really want to touch it, put some electrical tape around the part of the antenna that you want to be able to touch. It won't stop it from working, and it should prevent that sound.

The Etherwave also tends to make a squeak when you turn it off.
Posted: 11/17/2007 2:50:31 PM

From: Farnham, UK

Joined: 11/17/2007

Thanks for your reply. It puts my mind at rest to know that I don't have a problem with the kit, and the 'workaround' is a useful solution which I shall try.
Posted: 11/18/2007 10:29:57 AM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

Another less "sticky" option than the electrical tape could be a length of shrink tubing (electrical insulation) or perhaps a short length of clear vinyl tubing.
Posted: 11/18/2007 11:29:29 AM

From: Farnham, UK

Joined: 11/17/2007

Excellent, thank you! I like the sound of some sort of transparent tubing as it will keep the Theremin looking as Bob intended!
Posted: 11/20/2007 9:30:11 PM

From: Morrisville, PA

Joined: 10/19/2005

I'll offer a dissenting viewpoint. I've owned a Moog Etherwave for ten years and never has it squeaked, clicked or anything when touching the volume antenna. Maybe the new ones do, but as I understand it, there's no reason for it to do so unless it's some sort of a grounding issue.

Thereminists who touch the volume loop when they've finished their playing always seemed to me to be making sure the instrument stayed quiet. But again, there's actually no reason to touch it. A player should be able to silence the volume and stand completely hands-free, even walk away from the theremin without it making another sound.

The only theremin I own that behaves differently is the Kees Theremin. Move out past the control zone and it will make noise again - major noise.

So, the question is: is there some reason why you want or need to touch the volume loop? As long as the instrument's quiet. seems like everything's fine.
Posted: 11/21/2007 2:52:56 AM

From: Farnham, UK

Joined: 11/17/2007

Thanks for your viewpoint in this.

I think my first concern was whether or not my Theremin was behaving properly. I did wonder if there was some sort of grounding issue and wonder if that is still the case.

There are 2 reasons for wanting to touch the antenna. Firstly, it seems to be a convenient way of silencing the instrument during bars rest. (Even Lydia Kavina seems to do this in her Moog video tutorial!) and the other is that I have noticed many players almost 'bounce' off of the antenna to achieve a better staccatto effect.

Whether this way of playing works for me is down to a bit more practice, but it's nice to know that if I do want to touch the antenna, I can, via a work around which shouldn't impact on the instrument.
Posted: 11/21/2007 8:25:06 AM
Brian R

From: Somerville, MA

Joined: 10/7/2005

I've also never had a squeaking problem. But even so, I'm leery of actually touching the loop while playing, because the instrument isn't absolutely stable on the stand... so any contact produces a slight wobble, which is detrimental to pitch accuracy. Better to operate [i]just next to[/i] the near edge of the loop (where the control field is narrowest).

Yes, I rest my hand on it for very long silences, but then I have to be careful to move it [i]gently [/i] to the center of the loop, with enough time for any wobble to subside, before I resume playing. (This is one of the drawbacks of choosing to play with a small pitch control field.)

Posted: 11/21/2007 8:33:22 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

[b]to touch it seemed easier at first[/b]

The reason that I started out touching the loop was that I felt as though it was easier to snap away from it for rapid attacks. However, to do this has caused me so many problems that I have abandonded techniques in which one touches the loop.

[b]insulation for the loop[/b]

My insulation is ugly -- electrical tape wrapped around plastic wrap. I haven't been able to find clear tubing that fits over the antenna. Since I use a pitch preview, to touch the antenna throws the pitch way off, thus one cannot use a pitch preview while touching the antenna.

[b]insulation doesn't completely solve the problem[/b]

The first problem with the insulation solution occurred at a dress rehearsal last year. I reserved our neighborhood clubhouse and set up everything there. However, I couldn't seem to come in on the right pitch, no matter what I did!

It turns out that, despite the insulation, to have my hand close to the loop was enough to change the pitch nearly 50 cents! The quicky solution was to get out the electrical tape and thicken the insulation to increase the distance between my hand and the loop. This didn't work very well -- and I changed my technique to only touch the loop with my pointer finger only. This got me through the rehearsal however was an uncomfortable way to play.

[b]to touch the loop is more a habit than necessity[/b]

In my own studio, the proximity of my hand to the loop doesn't appreciably affect the pitch, however in other locations there are no guarantees. The solution was a technique that Lydia Kavina discusses in her video: for a rapid attack she recommends an upward wrist snap. I changed to her snap technique along with straight fingers to achieve precise attacks without touching the loop.

[b]the pitch preview[/b]

I have composed music that [i]requires[/i] a pitch preview ( to perform. Pitch preview users have noted that the pitch in one's earbud seems to be "off" by a few cents from the pitch that comes out of the speaker. However, if this was true, then we would hear beats between the preview pitch and the speaker pitch. This never happens! What is going on is that, depending on the circumstances, the proximity of one's hand to the volume loop throws the pitch off a few cents -- not a problem with slow attacks but a real problem when one wants a snappy attack.

[b]just don't touch it![/b]

If I don't touch the loop OR my insulation then I have found the pitch preview to be spot on pitch. Having discovered this and with the change to my technique, the pitch preview has become a much more useable -- and precise -- tool.

[i]-- Kevin[/i]

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