What theremin to buy?

Posted: 4/9/2009 2:55:59 AM

Joined: 1/3/2009

Hello... After many days of pondering over the matter, I decided that I am willing to dedicate myself to mastering this instrument.

Alas, I have no idea what instrument to buy. I checked the buying guide and decided that the ONLY factor is playablity- I would like to purchase the most "friendly" theremin, and I understand that linearity is what I'm lookng for.

My question is: is it possible at all to get a good instrument for a budget of up to 500$?

All the pro theremins I see in videos (like the Clara Rockmore thing) are so huge, and it seems that no one even sells them, not even for a price that is outrageos (like... I dunno, 2000$)...

Posted: 4/9/2009 7:49:44 AM

From: Leicester, UK

Joined: 9/23/2005

I think the Mog Etherwave Standard is a good place to start with - and for many, finish with. I know several experiences thereminists prefer it over the expensive ones.
Posted: 4/9/2009 8:45:45 AM

From: UK

Joined: 4/15/2008

Yes, a Moog Etherwave Standard would probably be your best option right now. It's certainly an ideal instrument to learn on. It has a good sound/timbre, adjustment dials for brightness and waveform, and is within your budget.

As far as I know, apart from the near-perfect linearity of the Moog Etherwave-Pro, (beyond your budget and now out of production anyway), the only theremin currently in production that has linearity approaching this, is the Wavefront Classic, but this is also beyond your stated budget. (Wavefront also do a travelcase model which is a little closer to your budget; however, I have no personal experience of it, and cannot comment as to how linear it is compared to the Etherwave Standard).

Don't get too fixated on a theremin having perfect linearity. Although there are some advantages to linearity, it's perfectly possible to become a thoroughly proficient player with a non-linear theremin. As far as I understand, the old theremin played by Clara Rockmore would have been non-linear; likewise I believe the theremins played regularly by Lydia Kavina (TVox-Tour and a theremin designed by Anthony Henk) are not perfectly linear. Thomas Grillo performs regularly on non-linear B3 theremins (B3s are well within your budget, but don't have the option to adjust brightness & waveform allowing you to vary the theremin's sound).

Remember that this non-linearity (notes getting closer together the higher they go) is common for many instruments, including the violin! It's useful for a thereminist to be somewhat adaptable - so learning initially on a non-linear theremin is no bad thing.

The Moog Etherwave Standard is around $400. (I think you'll find a discount code on the Theremin World home page for some online sellers, which might help!) You'll probably need the remaining $100 of your budget for a microphone stand and an amp (unless you have these already).
Posted: 4/9/2009 10:55:38 AM

Joined: 1/3/2009

Thanks for all the advice...

I guess that you are right, and maybe perfect linearity isn't that crucial, but yeah, an instrument that I can use for many many years, I would say "forever"... Currently I'm playing a saxophone, a very very basic model and I would no doubt upgrade to a pro. model in a couple of years, that's a rather big investment (5 grand or so) I want to make sure that with the Theremin, I can concentrate on music and not worry too much about equipment like I did on the electric guitar...

I'm a little bit afraid that those standard theremin makers had a halloween party planner as a player in mind... Maybe I'm wrong?
Posted: 4/9/2009 12:07:21 PM

From: UK

Joined: 4/15/2008

Glad to be of help! Don't worry that the Etherwave Standard is designed just for Halloween parties, (that would probably just apply to pitch-only theremins). Any theremin with a volume loop as well as the pitch antenna will be designed with instrumentalists in mind. In the past, Robert Moog worked along with thereminists like Clara Rockmore when designing any of his theremins. The Standard is a good instrument but in a very basic brick-shaped case/cabinet.

I spent my first 8 or 9 months learning on the E-Standard, and then was fortunate enough to find an E-Pro. As much as I enjoy the Pro (for its smart looks as well as its sound), I don't regret learning on the Standard.

Moog have talked about another Pro-level theremin some time in the future (exactly when, nobody knows!) But when one appears, you can always sell the Standard on eBay, then add some extra cash for a Pro model, once you're sure you're going to stick with the theremin (not everyone does!)

Which reminds me: it might be worthwhile you checking eBay now, as they sometimes have 2nd-hand Standards listed, that can be bought for a reasonable price.
Posted: 4/9/2009 1:38:54 PM

Joined: 1/3/2009

I was thinking of buying a new E-standart on E-bay mainly because of the extras option (the DVDs and manuals) and because most shops that offer the -brand new- theremin kinda have a high reputation. There's also the thing about taxes which I as a not very experienced eBay shopper can, from what I understand, tweak with with the shop.

Posted: 4/10/2009 4:42:40 PM

From: Asheville, NC

Joined: 1/25/2008

I just happen to be thinking of selling my customized Etherwave standard (with stand) with an amp and diamond speaker (with stand) for something around $500.

I'm trying to upgrade to a WaveFront Classic model myself.

You can see a photo here (http://c3.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/38/l_a3080d9ffa064ed59f0c67d4c0c3ae16.jpg)

email me (address is on my profile) if you are interested or have any questions.
Posted: 4/11/2009 3:25:54 PM

From: Arizona

Joined: 10/24/2008

I have an Etherwave, stand, amp, speaker available also.

I can quote a price and send photos if asked at docdfg@cox.net
Posted: 4/12/2009 7:32:18 PM

From: USA

Joined: 12/8/2007

You know, I would advise you to try to get an Etherwave PLUS. This is a new model from Moog adding Pitch Volume and Gate CV outputs to their standard line.

You also get a headphone output and a power LED.

Ill bet you that Novamusik.com can get you a spectacular deal if you haggle with them a little bit likely for under 500 bucks as the Ethereave Plus retails on the Moog website for 515.

However novamusik has a standard available in an ash cabinet for 389 dollars. You have the options through them for gettinfg a whitewash cabinet. Their regular Standard goes for 429 and they have whitewash cabinets (limited edition) and ash for 499 Plus editions.

I ordered my Voyager and Vx351 through them and they gave me a deal for 2999 with free shipping. They are great and located in Milwaukee.

I would go this route rather than paying 500 for a used Standard. (Sorry friendly theremin world users)
Posted: 4/12/2009 8:08:06 PM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

For around $500 he would not only get a used EW Standard, but also an amp, a stand and a diamond speaker. This combination has more value than additional cv outputs which are absolutely useless for a beginner or a classical theremin player.

The Plus version may be of interest for people who want to tinker around with sound effects and synths, but what is commonly called "playability" is not at all affected. If I look at the Moog demonstration videos, I can't stop thinking that this has nothing in common with Clara Rockmore's or Sam Hoffman's playing. In my eyes these additional features of the Plus degrade it from a musical instrument to a simple gesture controller. And for that it is too expensive. The Paia Theremax for example has the same cv outputs and costs only the half...

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