Posted: 8/1/2006 4:51:06 AM

Joined: 8/1/2006

Is there any playability in the theramax? The impression i get over reading about it on the net is that its more a fun toy than an instrument. Is there anybody out there actually making serious music with it?
Posted: 8/1/2006 9:42:35 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Hi and welcome to Thereminworld.

The Theremax is a real Theremin capable of playing real music. Another member played the "Spellbound Concerto" live with orchestra a few months ago on his Theremax.

I do most of my recording on my Etherwave Pro, however I have one track posted that showcases the Theremax on my website . Choose the "Theremin" link and select "Oh Christmas Tree". I made that recording with the stock Theremax antenna.

Since that time, I upgraded the antenna to a chrome plated pipe (a simple plumbing pipe) which greatly improved its playability.

The Theremax is a good value for the price. The higher-priced Theremins (the Etherwaves) have a greater range of linearity which makes them easier to play.

The Theremax has a nice tone quality, has many well-documented mods, and is capable of playing a good deal of music. If your goal is to do traditional melodic playing with great precision you might be happier with an Etherwave Standard or Pro, though.

All the best to you.
Posted: 8/2/2006 4:54:34 AM

Joined: 8/1/2006

Thank you for the long answer
The song was wery exact in pitch! I can imagine it takes some time to get to know one perticular theremin.
Posted: 8/8/2006 1:01:45 PM

From: CT USA

Joined: 1/15/2006

It's a highly playable instrument, providing one invests the time and effort to build it right.
There are also some good modifications that can be done to improve the instrument, found at the late Fred Nachbaur's website,
which I incorporated into the instrument when I built it.

For a pitch antenna, I'm using a 3/8 diameter, 17" solid brass rod, lathed and threaded on one end so it fits into the top of my custom made cabinet. For volume, I'm using a brass plate.

Also, when I built mine, I confined all those darn "flying wires" to the bottom, solder side of the circuit board, to eliminate any possible interaction between the ugly rat's nest of wires (featured in a few Theremax pics here) and the oscillators. And it looks a lot neater.

Making partitions from unetched pcb to divide and shield the oscillators also dramatically improves the sound and range of the lower notes, providing cleaner bass. I wouldn't dream of playing a Theremax without this shielding.

I was originally going to build and add an induction coil for the pitch antenna, but have dropped that idea, because the linearity (perhaps by virtue of the solid brass rod) is already very good on this instrument. I'm hard-pressed to imagine how it can be improved.

Should you decide to try the Theremax, take your time in building it. You'll be rewarded with a highly playable, beautiful sounding instrument.


Posted: 8/28/2006 4:03:03 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

[i]"Making partitions from unetched pcb to divide and shield the oscillators also dramatically improves the sound and range of the lower notes, providing cleaner bass. I wouldn't dream of playing a Theremax without this shielding."[/i]

Do you have pictures of this mod?

I am fighting interference problems on the Theremax. I am just having trouble visualizing the size and position of the shields.

Posted: 8/29/2006 1:48:10 PM

From: Atlanta, GA

Joined: 12/10/2005

I have a Theremax and an Etherwave. The Theremax is mounted in a case with a small amp and a speaker. It's more of a tinker around with instrument: swap a resistor value here and there, try this mod or that and see what happens. I also use it as a synth controller with it's CV outs. The Etherwave is old reliable. Just plug it in and go. They sound and feel completely different. I'm not an expert player so I can't tell you that one is better than the other. The Theremax is much more susceptible to radio interference. Depending on the weather some days it is just a radio.
Posted: 10/22/2006 11:55:56 PM

From: Maryland

Joined: 10/22/2006

For pictures of the shielding around the
oscillators, see the information on the late
Fred Nachbauer's excellent website mentioned by

It's sad that Fred Nachbauer passed away, but at
least his website is still on-line... you might
want to use wget to make a copy of it since it
contains some great information and he's no longer
alive to maintain or preserve that website.

Posted: 10/23/2006 8:37:00 AM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

I have to admit, while I like the playability of the Etherwave much more than that of the Theremax, I really like the audio characteristics of the 'max too. Many years ago, I was in a dual-theremin concert where we played "Sleepwalk" on a Theremax and an Etherwave. The 2 combined nicely from a tonal perspective, and the lead part was all Theremax.
Posted: 12/17/2008 2:32:42 AM

From: Maryland, USA

Joined: 12/13/2008

Two questions.
Are the sections/partitions of copper clad board just delicately glued onto the main board?
Is the shield left isolated from the circuit, or are the copper sides of the shield connected to circuit board ground?
Thank you. I just found out there's such a thing as a theremin kit, ordered one, and trying to plan very carefully.

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