Another new ‘player’ UK

Posted: 9/10/2020 9:33:35 AM

Joined: 9/10/2020

Hi everyone.

I’ve literally only received my Theremin yesterday (bought from GAK in Brighton).

It’s a Moog etherwave plus and i’m already on a huge learning curve!

Right now it’s pitch is ‘reversed’ as I’ve read others on here have found.  I’m not looking forward to taking off the lid in an attempt to adjust things, (coils?). I noticed a high pitch sound when my left hand was resting on the volume loop, I presume that’s linked to the above issue.  What a shame, I knew i’d have to set the zero point & tune each time, but had no idea i’d need to become an electrical engineer lol. I have no means of testing the Hz I think it was that was mentioned in the other thread I read.

I didn’t consider needing a stand as the purchase happened rather suddenly - we’d been waiting for stock to arrive. So I’ve now ordered a stand from Amazon plus a cable for an amp which I will buy later. I plan to use headphones initially. 

Here’s hoping that this initial set-up doesn’t prove to be a big enough hurdle that the Theremin is returned.  After having spent years convincing my other half that it doesn’t have to sound ‘spooky’, that it can be melodic & finally getting one, it would be rubbish to return it because of the set up.

I have no idea about electronics, I just love the sound and love music. Always willing to learn though, so wish me luck! 🤓


Posted: 9/10/2020 1:52:59 PM

From: The East of the Netherlands

Joined: 6/18/2019

Hi Jani, welcome to the Theremin World forums.
Your Etherwave Plus is probably perfectly ok as it is, and your problems with reversed pitch field and volume loop still 'bleeding' sound when your hand is on/near it are due to a few obvious factors: not having it on a mic stand, and no earthing/grounding. In the UK you probably get the "European style" power supply which does not have a third prong (or side contacts) to connect to the safety ground of the electrical mains grid, so it expects to be plugged in to an amplifier that does have grounding and is plugged in to a socket that provides 'ground/earth'. So to get stable fields and not having a mic stand and an amp yet, make sure that it is standing on something that doesn't have metal parts, something plastic or cardbord perhaps, and that the volume loopis sticking out and doesn't have anything directly under it. That still leaves the earthing issue, for which you'ld have to improvise in some way if you have nothing to plug the audio out into that is earthed. Plugging in a cable in audio out and somehow with aligator clips connecting the sleeve to the safety ground of the grid, bare metal parts of central heating radiators or water supply pipes should work, or even a long piece of wire that's just connected to the sleeve side of a phono jack and laid on the ground could work, or connect it to yourself with a wristband.
Welcome to the wonderful quirky world of the theremin! Don't give up... 

Posted: 9/10/2020 2:15:29 PM

From: züriCH

Joined: 3/15/2014

welcome jani,

to the wonderfull world of sheer theremadness.

don‘t worry but you don‘t need electronic knowledge to be able to maintain your instrument. just a steady hand, a screwdriver for the housing and that red fiddle-stick you got with the instrument and maybe a smartphone with a frequencie-measure app on it, so you can check certain audio frequencies when tuning. it won‘t be perfect but playable.

but before that technical stuff has to happen: more technical stuff!
(edit: mostly what dreadbox mentioned. forgot to hit post button, silly me)

best thing: wait for the stand and hopefully a 5m plus cable. the long cable can provide something like a virtual ground for you, so that some issues can be mildered. 

dear, when i read and guess about your actual setup: 
1.  put it on the edge of a wooden table or chair, make sure the volume antenna is free below? and no metal objects near the instrument.
2.  grounding. only by headphone: not possible. it behaves in funny ways if it has no ground connection. most simple: you need a grounded amplifier/speaker or a grounded mixer and a p.a. or a adventurous connection with a waterpipe via the cable you‘re waiting for. remember: ring ground/tip signal.
¿ i guess the british etherwave power-supply has only two prongs? 
3. let it warm up. 10-15 min. (have a nice cuppa before you turn any knob on it.)

the (uninsulated)volume antenna is not to rest the hand. hang the audio/headphone cable over it to mute it. 
i can play squeeke noises on my volume antenna by squeezening the insulation i put on it. 
and they say thats normal!

Posted: 9/10/2020 5:38:36 PM

Joined: 9/10/2020

Hi chaps

Thanks a lot for your replies. It did come with a three prong plug so is grounded okay I believe ... all of the UK plugs are three pronged / grounded. 

Having said that, I have no intentions of trying to do this without my partner in - just in case I manage to electrocute myself lol. 

I looked at the list of accessories listed on this forum and have ordered the cable and mic stand (round base) that was recommended from Amazon which should arrive tomorrow. 

I have a small wooden table that I stood it on with the volume antenna hanging over the edge when I got that feedback. I naively thought at one point I was going to need to remove my rings lol. 

I can’t see the Moog amp that was recommended here on Amazon so have earmarked another for now. It’s very basic, only about £40 (Rockjam 20w) but will probably do for the moment. I really do need to play using a headset when my partner is at home, at least until I can hit a tune! 😂 I was considering these as new headphones .. 

OneOdio Adapter-free Closed-Back DJ Studio Headphones for Monitoring and Mixing, Protein Leather Earcups, Noise Isolation, 90° Rotatable Housing, Portable Over Ear Stereo Headphones (Silver-Brown)

Should I wait until I have the stand before attempting to fiddle around with my little tool? I’ve highlighted the part on the illustration so that I find it easily enough. 

Am I ‘safe’ as it is plugged into a three pronged socket? I always get a bit nervous when told to ensure I am earthed / grounded. 

Jani 😊

Posted: 9/10/2020 5:41:53 PM

From: Scotland

Joined: 9/27/2012

Jani, welcome to this mad place

I'd suggest checking your earth/ground connection before trying anything else as the theremin needs a good ground. Any wobbly grounding will result in all kinds of weird and colourful noises and inconsistent operational ways!

In the UK, the theremin wiring is usually considered as - theremin is plugged into audio amplifier which is plugged into the mains, the theremin gets it's earth connection from the amplifier as the amplifier is connected to the earth via the mains plug.
(If the amplifier is battery operated, then, eh, eh, eh...)

I think it may be possible to do a 'false' earthing by plugging into the audio out of the EW a long cable (audio connecting cable), making a coil of about 2' diameter from the free end and putting it on the ground, then standing in this as you play.

Then, think about theremin placement, ie, away from anything metallic or electrical.

Honestly though, a good earth is your first priority!


Posted: 9/10/2020 5:47:44 PM

From: Scotland

Joined: 9/27/2012

Hi Jani

the power supply might be three pronged but the earth prong may be plastic.


Posted: 9/10/2020 9:59:10 PM

Joined: 9/10/2020

Thanks for your patience with me.  I really thought that besides tuning, this was a plug and play type thing - d’oh. The annoying thing is that I’m now too late to get an amp from Amazon tomorrow and have nowhere near me that sell them. Will any guitar amp work? I will probably take a drive down to Brighton first thing and buy one from the shop I bought the Moog from. I might even take the theremin with me and get them to do the coil, I presume it can be done anywhere as people travel with these?

I’ll be back, once it’s making a ‘noise’ when and how it should. I’ll then try to convert that to something that resembles music.  One last thing, would reverb be of value? I’m learning the harmonica and was thinking of creating a pedal board in the future, perhaps I should buy an amp with one in it? I also fancy the idea of a voice pedal on this ...

Posted: 9/11/2020 1:41:50 AM

From: The East of the Netherlands

Joined: 6/18/2019

Many guitar amps will distort too easily with the much higher output of the theremin versus an electric guitar, and colour the sound in ways you may or may not like. Some of the Vox guitar amps seem to work ok. (I'm using a Pathfinder 15R at times, but those don't get made anymore, I think on some videos I've seen Lydia Kavina sometimes use a small VOX amp that might have been some Valvetronics or Mini-5 modelling amp).  A keyboard amp is what usually is recommended, as that is built for a higher input level and to sound clean and neutral. Reverb is useful (either built-in to the amp or in the form of an effect pedal). For experimental style theremin music, a delay pedal is a great addition. Behringer of Roland keyboard amplifiers seem to have a good reputation for theremin.

Posted: 9/11/2020 10:37:22 AM

Joined: 9/10/2020

Oh Lord, I was looking at this little one on Amazon. I’ll definitely have to go back to GAK I think (Guitar Amp Keyboard shop)

Proving to be an expensive requirement judging by those I’ve seen on Amazon .. 

This one (guitar amp I believe) was just £40 and I thought similar might work for the grounding purposes. 

RockJam GA-20W 20 Watt Guitar Amplifier with Headphone Output and Effects

Posted: 9/11/2020 10:38:42 AM

Joined: 9/10/2020

Thanks for the advice re Roland, I’ve definitely heard a lot about them over the years. 

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