B3 or etherwave (for a novice)

Posted: 5/7/2009 4:49:39 AM

From: greece

Joined: 5/5/2009

Hello again,

I am still looking for an etherwave at a nice price plus shipping to Greece, which is kind of hard, so I have started considering the Burns B3 as well.

Do you think that one would better suit a theremin novice than the other? I have read somewhere in theremin world that etherwave has been designed with linearity in mind, which makes it easier to play. How important is the linearity factor, and how linear do you think B3 is?
Apart from the linearity issue (which I do not know how crucial is), is there a serious reason that could make one of the two more attractive than the other?

Sorry for asking cliche questions, but I am somewhat confused. The theremin is intended to be a gift to my girlfriend, so that she can find out what this thing really is, so she won't be so demanding, but I wouldn't like to get her something that is not a proper theremin and has too many compromises.

Thank you all in advance.
Posted: 5/7/2009 8:54:56 AM

From: UK

Joined: 4/15/2008

Hello thanvg,

Both the Moog Etherwave Standard and the Burns B3 are good theremins - both great for beginners, (and more experienced players too). Both have both volume and pitch antennas (important for a ''proper'' theremin), and volume/pitch adjustment dials.

The B3 certainly costs less, and therefore there are a few minor compromises:

I think I'm right in saying that the B3 doesn't have adjustment dials for brightness and waveform, which means you can't alter its ''voice'' the way you can with an Etherwave Standard. However, the B3 does have a nice mellow stringlike voice.

The aerial and volume-loop aren't quite so solid as the E-Standard, but are perfectly functional ... and the aerial is retractable, (which might be useful for storage).

I don't own a B3 so I can't comment on linearity. However, the Etherwave Standard isn't a perfectly linear theremin either, (I don't know of any reasonably-priced beginner-level theremins that are - only the much more expensive pro-level instruments). A non-linear theremin is still perfectly playable, it's just that the notes get gradually closer together the nearer the player's hand gets to the pitch antenna; this makes little or no difference to experimental players, and even classical/precision players can adjust with practice.

I'd suggest the Burns B3 DELUXE rather than the B3 Standard. (The standard has a shorter case/body, which means the pitch hand and volume hand are closer together than is ideal for precision playing). The B3 Deluxe has a longer case similar in dimensions to the Etherwave.

Your choice of theremin may well depend on how your girlfriend plans to play. If it's experimental-style music, a B3 Standard may well suffice; if she wants to play precision/classical-style music the B3 Deluxe or Etherwave Standard would be better.

While 2nd-hand Moog Etherwave bargains sometimes turn up on eBay (although usually not a huge amount cheaper than new ones), I don't see 2nd-hand B3s so much; (you'll find new B3s available at eBay and the Soundslikeburns website).

I hope that helps.
Posted: 5/7/2009 10:37:23 AM

From: greece

Joined: 5/5/2009

Dear Thereminstrel (and GordonC yesterday),

thank you for your reply.

You have been very helpful and answered most (if not all) of my questions. I think I'll go for a B3, lighthearted, since I understood that it will serve satisfactorily.

Best regards
Posted: 5/7/2009 11:39:44 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

thanvg: You're welcome. (I think you're very noble to buy your girlfriend a gift which will stop you getting close to her! If she likes the instrument and really wants to master it there will be a lot of time spent practising, and you will [i]not[/i] be a welcome presence within the theremin's control zone.)

Thereminstrel wrote: [i]If it's experimental-style music, a B3 Standard may well suffice[/i]

Even for experimental music a big pitch field is better - especially if you want to explore tiny microtonal intervals.
Posted: 5/19/2009 6:32:25 AM

From: greece

Joined: 5/5/2009

Dear theremin fellows,

thank you for all your advice! I just ordered a B3 deluxe. I'll let you know how she'll find it when we receive it from the States.

Many thanks!

(GordonC: I hadn't really thought about the "theremin control zone", or have I thought exactly about it??? ;) (just joking!))
Posted: 5/19/2009 2:22:40 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005


Don't forget to tell your girlfriend about the thereminworld forums - learning the theremin can be a slow process and it is encouraging to be in touch with people who are sharing the same experience.

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