Posted: 12/30/2013 8:01:11 PM

Joined: 12/30/2013

Hi everyone, just thought id introduce myself to the forums.

Names Ricki, recently got a moog etherwave standard, and have began learning in the last few days.

Im a guitarist by trade, so the technique is completely alien to me haha, the best i have done so far is been able to find a C and then try to hit the octave, im dying to play some video game music !


Any tips and info to get me rolling? i have 'sort of' worked out how to tune it, but still working on fine tuning and finger positions, is it normal to only be able to get about 4 octaves that are usable? 

Thanks everyone.


Posted: 12/31/2013 4:30:15 AM

From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Joined: 1/1/2011

Hi Ricki,

A warm welcome!  I recommend the instructional videos that Kip Rosser has on Youtube.  He uses an EW for his lessons which should make it easier to relate to.  I never really got more than 4 usable octaves out of my EWS, though it is an older Big Brier model.  If you can start out by playing a scale without sounding like a cat in heat that's a good start...LOL!  

I will let the experts steer you from here.

Best wishes,

Brian ;^)

Posted: 12/31/2013 7:39:51 AM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

Hi Ricky,

I think it's you from whom I got an email yesterday. Didn't you get my reply?

The default range of an Etherwave Standard or Plus is between 4 and 5 octaves, depending on component tolerances and the precision of the internal factory tuning. There is the ESPE01 module which extends the Etherwave's pitch range at the low end, and there are ways (for an expert) to improve the internal tuning which extends the pitch range at the top end. The whole gives a range of > 7 octaves, while the timbres are nicer and linearity (tone spacing) is more consistent, transforming the Etherwave into a semi-professional instrument.

Posted: 12/31/2013 11:32:49 AM

Joined: 12/30/2013

Thanks Bisem, although i have to admit, I quite like the way Peter Pringle goes about playing, doesnt seem he uses a conventional technique that comes with the instructional dvd.

Yeah that was me Thierry, to be honest, its the timbre quality im after more than extended octave ranges, what would you recommend? 

Nah i didnt get ya reply sorry :)

Posted: 12/31/2013 1:38:30 PM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

Ok Ricki, I'll send it again, perhaps from a different email account...

The timbres are improved by the (my) ESPE01 module. I recommend that you have a look on Thomas Grillo's demonstration video:

I can also give "custom timbres" to the Etherwave. Everything depends on how well you can describe your acoustic needs with words.

Posted: 12/31/2013 9:18:05 PM

Joined: 12/30/2013

I wasn't aware you could get custom sounds on a theremin! 


Posted: 1/1/2014 12:50:41 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008


The biggest mistake that newcomers to the theremin make is to believe that they do not need to take a "formal" approach to the instrument they way they would if they were going to study a traditional instrument like the violin or the harp, and that they can figure it all out for themselves, by ear, as they go along. What happens is that they come up with ways of doing things that initially sound O.K., without realizing that what they are doing is unsustainable and eventually they hit a brick wall.

The theremin is unlike traditional instruments in that there is no established method of playing it. If you wanted to learn the cello or the concert harp, just about anyone who has been playing for a year or two could show you the basics. Not so with the theremin. Most thereminists are self-taught and no two play exactly alike.

One of the problems this has created is that with no competent teacher to oversee their progress, many budding newbies have unwittingly developed habits that later interfere with their ability to advance. This can be very discouraging and is one of the reasons why the dropout rate is so high among thereminists. While there is no "right" way or "wrong" way to play, there are approaches that will help you get where you want to go and others that will hinder you. 

CARDINAL RULE: Never take any advice on how to play the theremin from anyone whose theremin playing you have not heard or do not enjoy. 

That Peter Pringle guy (that's me, BTW) plays with an aerial fingering technique inspired by Clara Rockmore. I always tell newcomers to the theremin to imitate, to the best of their ability, the style and technique of the thereminist they most admire, and to keep doing it until their own musical style kicks in automatically.

Posted: 1/1/2014 3:30:13 PM

Joined: 12/30/2013


I always take any instrument I begin to learn seriously, even my ocarina, I used to play classical guitar and am more than aware of how difficult and mind numbing it can be to make an instrument sound musical, not just a sound.

Oh by the way, i emailed you few days back but didnt get a reply, is you're dvd region free? i live in the UK

Posted: 1/2/2014 1:18:41 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Hi Bango,


I did get one email from you (which I answered immediately) regarding shipping to the U.K.


The DVD is a standard DVD-R in NTSC. I think most people play them on their computers so there is no problem.

Posted: 1/3/2014 4:02:49 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

I can't add much to Coalport's comments, really.

The "sound" of someone's theremin playing has more to do with their technique than other qualities (i.e., the timbre of their instrument).  So your choice of technique is the single most important item that will give you your "sound".

There are numerous arial fingering techniques.  Mine is similar to Coalport's -- that is, from the closed position extended knuckles is the interval of a fourth.  This note-spacing suits my hands and my general musical approach.  Other techniques set a closer note-spacing -- up to a major ninth without moving one's arm -- that I find hard to control.

When I started to play, I was unable (due to my location and other factors) to get lessons however Coalport's DVD instruction was extremely valuable and helped to "jump start" my theremin playing.


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