Not Very Knowledgable on Theremins, Need Advice

Posted: 10/16/2014 2:53:48 AM

Joined: 10/16/2014

So I'm planning on builing a guitar from scratch, and I hope to have a lot of on board effects. One of the effects I really want is a theremin, but I can't really have an antenna sticking out of the thing. I've seen a video on YouTube where this guy gets a theremin effect from a copper looking plate mounted on his guitar. Is it possible to have a theremin housed in the guitar body where a plate like this acts as the antenna? That would save me a whole lot of trouble!

As mentioned in the title, I'm not very knowledgable on theremins (or general wiring, but I have a friend who can help me with the electronics), so any advice and insight would be greatly appreciated!



Posted: 10/16/2014 3:41:23 AM

From: züriCH

Joined: 3/15/2014

hi donnie,

and welcome here. you might not get a fullscale theremin into a guitar. it would be easier, putting strings on a theremin. ;-) no, seriously, there are some simple pitch only theremins that are meant to work with plate antennas. most popular and quite easy to build are the art harrison designs. link: minimum theremin. [edit]:i put some of mine into metal boxes, using the lid as attachable antenna. pictures of it on the same website. i never tried to put one into a guitar, but, hey,it probably would be doable. so you would have a theremin-like extra voice. you would like to have something for ghostly wooings? or for a controller function of, hmm, maybe a filter or so? there are some effect pedals by zvex using a plate, like a theremin for certain controls. they are a bit expensive, really, just to put into a guitar body.: pedals, you need to scroll down a bit!

i haven't seen your mentioned video, so i can't tell what's what. you can easy post links to the rest of the www. so we can see what you are up to.

frankly, it's still too early for my disasembled mind to come up with some more useful thoughts on your project, and until i haven't gathered my parts back together...(snoozing off while writing..) :-) aaah well, a last one by me: a simple killswitch (a momentary pushbutton, that takes the signal to ground) is  still one of the best and so simple to do stutttututttutering fx.

Posted: 10/16/2014 11:51:17 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Hi Donnie,

Any metal / conductive "thing" that is on its own on an insulating material, can act as an "antenna" - So, for example, if you have steel strings on a wooden guitar body, and you could make a connection to something metal in contact with these strings, they could be the "antenna".. Or the same is true for any metal - a  metal finger plate is probably the simplest, because it can be easily isolated from any other grounded electronics (the strings / bridge are probably a bit risky even if possible)

You need to think about what range you want from the sensor - but the simpler designs are probably good enough for this application.

You dont actually need a visible "antenna" of any kind - some wire inside the guitar body will do the job if theres no metal in the way.


Posted: 10/16/2014 3:33:30 PM

From: Scotland

Joined: 9/27/2012

I think I am right in saying that the strings in an electric guitar are grounded, so that if there is an electrical fault, you dinny get fried when you go for that famous last rock and roll chord ending.

The truss rod in the neck might be an option for an antenna but that will lie close to the grounded strings so might be problematic?

Maybe a plate incorporated into the body of the guitar might work?

Two plates for a volume and pitch theremin although not sure how playable this would be in practice.

Just a couple of thoughts.


Posted: 10/16/2014 3:36:44 PM

From: züriCH

Joined: 3/15/2014


and donnie, sorry but using the strings for antenna will not work. the bridge is most usually grounded on any e-guitar.

one gets a good midi-bridge for about 150$ at a decent music store. thus, a lot of more fun...


You must be logged in to post a reply. Please log in or register for a new account.