Roll Call - 2012

Posted: 9/2/2012 3:35:35 PM
Chainsaw Willie!

From: Just a short walk away from Nike Missile Site S-13/14

Joined: 1/28/2011

 I picked up the small amp at a local music store - a Vox brand amPlug powered speaker cabinet.  Unfortunately, I haven't quite gotten it to work for me at all.  Power is fine to the instrument (I presume), but when I plug the line from the theremin to the 'guitar in' port, it does nothing regardless of what I tweak on the theremin dials.  I am suspicious that the 'amplug in' port on top of the unit might be where the actual attached amp goes, and that what they sold me was JUST the speaker unit or something odd like that.  I will have to puzzle over it and figure out where I went wrong. :)

I took a look online and It looks like the Vox amplug is just a speaker cabinet for a guitar headphone amp.  Kinda like those little speakers for MP3 players, it is expecting a signal in that is high enough to drive headphones.  Also with a 3-inch speaker it is likely to sound like a Radio Shack walkie-talkie.  The mini amps are really cute novelties, but that is about all.  You would be much better off finding some standard guitar practice amp with a much larger speaker.  

There is a wide range of guitar amps that will work with the Burns.  The best results will probably come with something more expensive and with a 10 or 12 inch speaker.  Less expensive amps with 8 or 6 inch speakers may work OK but not sound the best.  The toy amps just shouldn't exist, they are novelties like a rubber Richard Nixon mask.

If you are on the cheap, check Craigslist for a guitar practice amp.  But be aware, a great theremin tone from a great amp will help to keep you enthused and working hard after you discover just how difficult the Theremin is.  You may get by with a cheapie  to start with, but be prepared to upgrade.

Posted: 9/3/2012 9:37:39 AM
J

From: Rome, Italy

Joined: 8/29/2012

@coalport, Amethyste, AlKhwarizmi

Thank you for your welcome and precious suggestions! Just a word to share with you the good news: it's arrived...and I already became a hopeless thereminaholic :) thanks to two previous years of practice with the trumpet, my pitch is not as terrible as I feared but of course there's still a long way to go before approaching a decent intonation!

@coalport

Peter, what is your opinion about playing Piazzola on theremin? Do you think that a transcription of pieces like "libertango" o "ausencias" would be a stretch or is it worth a try?

 

Posted: 9/3/2012 10:25:19 AM
coalport

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

J, the Piazzola compositions you mention (Libertango & Ausencias) could be transcribed very nicely for theremin because both of them have simple, legato melodies over Latin rhythms that are provided by other instruments (guitars, bandoneon, etc.). The problem will be finding appropriate backing tracks unless you are able to create your own. 

If you are planning on playing only for your own enjoyment you could always play along with someone else's finished performance but that doesn't go over very well if you want to make a video or audio recording and publish it on the internet. You just end up wrecking somebody else's work!

Posted: 9/3/2012 4:42:34 PM
Praetorian

Joined: 9/2/2012

The mini amps are really cute novelties, but that is about all.  You would be much better off finding some standard guitar practice amp with a much larger speaker.  

There is a wide range of guitar amps that will work with the Burns.  The best results will probably come with something more expensive and with a 10 or 12 inch speaker.  Less expensive amps with 8 or 6 inch speakers may work OK but not sound the best.  The toy amps just shouldn't exist, they are novelties like a rubber Richard Nixon mask.

@Chainsaw Willie:

I should have taken your advice.  Since the Vox just wasn't going to work for me, I bought a different mini-amp that -would- work and have been trying it out.  Using that, along with headphones plugged into it works...but the sound is awful.  I am having issues with it even differentiating tone variances when I practice the ariel fingering techniques.  The money I have blown on what you call 'toy amps' would have just about paid for a REAL amp at this point. :)  I am just going to scrap those and do it right.

Two questions though: First, I know Moog makes a theremin specific amp, is that the 'optimum' amp to purchase (at around $100) or would a quality amp from my local music store perform just as well for about the same price?  Also, since I live in an apartment complex its rather important to me to be able to practice with a headset.  I would drive my neighbors INSANE if I didn't I am sure.  Would using a quality headset, with a REAL amp, still provide the sound quality needed or would having the sound come out through the larger amp speaker be required?

Posted: 9/13/2012 10:15:25 PM
zyxhannah

Joined: 9/13/2012

Hi Jason,

I'm also new.

I'm 11 years old and I'm really interested in the Theremin. I've been begging my dad to get me one, and even though he doesn't want to admit it, I'm pretty sure I'm eventually going to get one. It would be helpful if we knew a little bit more about them though. Do you know anywhere in Manhattan where I can maybe try out a theremin? I know that they sell them at Sam Ash, but they're not on display.

Thanks,

Nina

Posted: 9/14/2012 4:15:25 PM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

Welcome zyxhannah! We hope a theremin finds its forever home with you soon. 

I highly recommend watching the documentary film "Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey" with your parents to help them learn more about it.  The history of the instrument is as fascinating as the instrument itself, and this movie film does an excellent job of explaining it.  You can find it on Netflix, Amazon, etc.

If you have other questions about theremins, please feel free to ask in these forums and we can help you out.  The "Theremin General" forum is probably best for general questions.

Posted: 9/15/2012 3:47:16 PM
zyxhannah

Joined: 9/13/2012

Thanks Jason,

I'm going to rent it on Netflix. Thank you!

Zyxhannah

Posted: 9/25/2012 1:55:28 PM
medici

From: Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Joined: 9/23/2012

I'm new to Theremin World, so will take a few lines to introduce myself.

Theremin stuff: I play an Etherwave Standard (circa 2005) that I bought after falling for the haunting idea of playing an instrument that can't be touched (and listening to Coalport sing on those gorgeous old instruments).  My playing was on hiatus for a few years, but I have started up again and am having some good fun teaching myself bossa nova tunes and fooling around with a staccato punchy style.  No idea where this will go.  I plug into the microphone input of an SR Technology Jam 90 after passing my theremin signal through a DI box.  This works well.  My flat isn't large enough for a larger amp!  The Jam 90 puts out a sweet sound and it's a lovely wee amp.

Other instruments: I played violin professionally for 10+ years in what seems a lifetime ago.  I trained and played classically except for the last three years of my career, when I was a member of a touring band that backed up acts like Andy Williams, Pia Zadora, Charles Aznavour, Dionne Warwick, etc (contracted by the great Al Cobine).  I also play 5-string open-back banjo (clawhammer) on a beautiful Mike Ramsay Special.  I still fool around on the violin -- but it's hard on my ego!  I swapped out my old Italian violin for a cheap French factory fiddle (1920s, red, you know the type) that serves me well when I take it to pubs, etc.  I stare at the electric ukelele parked next to my fiddle and banjo and am convinced that I will soon take it up.

Other bits and bobs: I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I earn my keep conducting academic research in evolutionary biology.  I love to cook and read and tinker on classic bicycles.  I'm vegan.  I cycle just about everywhere.  I am in my mid-50s.  I practice ashtanga yoga six out of seven mornings a week from 6 to 7:30.  I don't mind the rain, at all.

Posted: 9/25/2012 11:30:17 PM
coalport

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Since I appear to have been at least partly responsible for inspiring your interest in the theremin, let me welcome you to Theremin World.

Your beautifully worded introduction goes from the sublime to the ridiculous (Jois to Zadora) I think you are going to fit right in to the mad world of the theremin!

 

Posted: 9/29/2012 12:14:39 AM
RoyP

From: Scotland

Joined: 9/27/2012

Hi All,


just a wee note to introduce myself.

I've been interested in electronic music for ages and to be honest I don't really know when the theremin first became an interest to me. Yes, 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' is one of my favourite films (but the remake is as far as I'm concerned a total waste of time resources and electricity) and Robbie the robot in the Forbidden Planet is great. Neither of those films though turned me on to the theremin I'm sure.

With that nebulous love for the instrument, a few years ago I trawled the I-web and found Arthur Harrisons theremin pages, from which I built a 145 (valves seemed a bit scary and I didn't want a pitch only).
There were a couple of hiccups along the way but eventually managed to get a working theremin and made a case for it (my icon image).

So there I am and there it is: I'm having far too much fun with the thing and looking forward the challenge!

Oh, by the way, I think my neighbours would much prefer me to be learning the bagpipes; at least they have fixed notes...

 

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