How do you pick a Theremin?

Posted: 10/1/2006 5:56:32 AM

From: Australia

Joined: 10/1/2006

I am interested in buying a Theremin for a friend who will be using it for live performances and recording in Australia and Germany.
I do not really know where to begin because I have seen Theremins that cost US$80 and Theremins that cost as much as $3,000.
Considering it is for a friend who has not even heard of a Theremin I don't think I need to opt for the cream of the crop just yet. I don't want to give him a toy for a gift though.
So... Does anyone have any help to offer in terms of buying a good quality theremin at low cost. I do not have the equipment to make it myself so I would be more interested in purchasing it assembled.
I live in Australia so if I can buy it from someone in Australia that will be a bonus.
I know, there are quite a few questions here to consider but any help will be appreciated.


Posted: 10/1/2006 6:40:01 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

The two most relevant questions are

1. What sort of music will be played on the theremin. If you are thinking of a device to add interesting musical effects and noises to a band then a low cost pitch only theremin may be sufficient to your requirements - many bands use such a device, notable examples being Led Zeppelin and Goldfrapp.

2. How much time will your friend be willing to devote to learning to play the theremin melodically? It is a demanding instrument with a long learning curve. The most inexpensive example of a theremin suitable for playing tunes (i.e. with two antenna separated by at least 50cm) is made by Kees Enkelaar in Tasmania. Unfortunately I understand that he is taking a break from building them following the birth of his daughter. His theremins are based on kits available from Jaycar Electronics in Australia, but the kits are unsuitable for melodic playing without several modifications to the box and circuitry. Schematics for mods can be found on this website and elsewhere.

The most popular choice of bands and solo artists is the Moog Etherwave, which at over 500 Australian dollars probably begs the question - how good a friend is he?

Posted: 10/2/2006 3:56:20 AM

From: Australia

Joined: 10/1/2006

Thank you for your detailed response. I have, since posting my questions decided that I won't buy my friend 'the European' model from Capt. Theremin on Ebay because it does not have a volume antenna which I understand will make it more difficult to play.
You are the second person who recommended the Moog Etherwave Standard so I think I will look further into that for the future (for Myself). It is rather an expensive gift and I am not sure that he would have the time to devote to learning it.
Thanks once again. You have made my options much clearer.
PS- Between the Kees Enkelar and the Moog Etherwave which would you suggest for a beginner?
Posted: 10/2/2006 4:39:46 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Tough call. The Kees has a softer tone than the etherwave which is perhaps a little more forgiving for beginners, but either way you are going to be playing variations on The Cat Strangling Song for a while.

Also from a practice point of view the Kees has an output volume knob which means it can be played more quietly on your amp (typically amps require you to turn their volume knob to at least 3 before they sound right) and used on a guitar amp without distortion. (I upgraded to an etherwave last week, and ended up buying a volume pedal to attenuate its keyboard level output so it would play nicely on my fender amp.) Also it lets you use low end guitar effects boxes that need lower input levels. (Theremins are really good with delays - I have had so much fun with my Danelectro pb&j and my Marshall echohead - they really take you to the ghosts and ghouls zone, or deep into outer space - and from a learning point of view you can hear the notes better (that's a clumsy way of putting it but you know what I mean) and how they relate to the following notes if they overlap a bit.)

On the other hand, if you take to the theremin the odds are you're going to want to upgrade at some point in the future, which means you're probably going to end up buying a Moog anyway.

Posted: 10/2/2006 7:07:22 AM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

Maria - Kees Enkelaar IS currently taking orders for his theremins, no doubt for a limited time.

The "Kees" is a fully functional theremin and certainly adequate for anyone interested in learning whether or not the theremin is for them.

It is currently selling for $195 (USD) which is 55% of the Moog Etherwave.

Kees Enkelaar Theremins (
Posted: 10/2/2006 8:50:15 PM

From: Australia

Joined: 10/1/2006

I have sent an Email to Kees Enkelaar about the Theremin that he sells and am awaiting his response.
Being a beginner I will take the option that is a little cheaper for the moment and if I really like it I can upgrade.
Your help assistance has been very useful. No doubt when I start learning I will be back here with yet another ten or so questions.
Best wishes to all,
Posted: 10/4/2006 10:09:34 AM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005


I wish I had a friend like you.

Wanna be my friend? I want an Etherwave Pro. I can give you and address to mail it to.

But seriously, folks...

I hear good things about the Kees. I have an Etherwave Standard that I love.

One thing to think about is the power in Austrailia and Germany. Are they both on the same voltage? I know Germany uses 220 and the big two-pronged plugs.

I guess some adapters will be in order.

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