Newbie looking for a theremin

Posted: 9/14/2008 12:44:50 PM

From: Naperville, IL

Joined: 9/14/2008

Hey guys,

I play guitar, mostly electric. Recently though, I've really been wanting to expand my sounds and am getting very experimental.. I hope to do the same in a band very soon as well.

Anyway, I'm thinking about getting a switch and hooking up a theremin to my amp. I am running my guitars through a Crate Blue Voodoo BV-120H tube head and BV-412 cabinet with several pedals before the amp and in the effects loop.

First, I want to make sure it's ok if I run a theremin into my amp. I don't want to damage my amp or equipment through any strain or anything, I just want to make sure this is perfectly harmless to all of my equipment.

Secondly, I've heard a lot of people recommend the Moog Big Briar. It looks nice, but it is a bit expensive. I'm not really planning on playing songs with this as much as I'm planning on using it for ambiance and noise.. however, I may very well like to do more than just wave my hands around and make crazy noises and actually create some melodies, but I'm not sure if I have the time to master the theremin. Anyway, basically, I'm looking for something nice, but affordable as I'm not sure I want to invest a lot in something that's going to be a miscellaneous instrument to the side of playing guitar.

For the record, I am open to purchasing a Big Briar if need be, I just wanted to see if I could get something good for cheaper.

So, if you have any input, it would be greatly appreciated, thank you.
Posted: 9/14/2008 2:33:28 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Welcome to ThereminWorld Loxley.
The Moog standard is a great instrument for both melodic precision playing and non literal sound scapes. It's well worth the money.

But some other options might help you get started faster
the PAiA Theremax is a good kit if you're into building it, and the Burns B3 theremin is a decent entry level instrument for both styles. If you do not think you'll need any live volume control while playing, there are pitch only "theremins" that are fun for sound generation like the Alesis one.

Not all of our content has been updated lately, but a list of builders is on

And some common questions are covered on the
Guide to Buying a Theremin page

A guitar amp and effects will work fine, generally keyboard gear works a bit better and gives more power, most theremins are line level out.

As you can imagine this has come up a lot over the past years so please try the search box too.
Though I'm sure some members will chime in here as well.

Good luck... and let us know what you decide and how it works out!
Posted: 9/14/2008 8:17:45 PM

From: Naperville, IL

Joined: 9/14/2008

Yeah.. I definitely used the search function, some people are saying that theremins can overload guitar amps.. this is pretty scary.. I don't want anything happening to it, how do I tell if my amp is save for a theremin or not?
Posted: 9/15/2008 10:01:13 AM

From: Dublin, Ireland

Joined: 7/25/2007

I have played my E Standard through a Polytone Mini Brute Guitar amp, with no problems, but since I bought a Roland Keyboard amp, I have to say it sounds so much nicer. But no - it didn't overload or damage my Polytone..
Posted: 9/15/2008 1:32:22 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Don't be too worried - by "overload" they don't mean "explode" they mean "create unwanted distortion in the sound by clipping the signal." All it means is, the first time you plug it in, keep the volume turned down and start with your hand on the volume loop and raise it slowly until either you hear distortion appear in the sound or you are at full volume.

If there is some then there is a simple mod to the etherwave to reduce the power of the signal if you are cool with soldering a resistor, or you can buy a cheap low impedance inline volume pedal - that's what I did - and run the output through it.

The etherwave (as the call the Big Briar these days) is a darned good theremin. Now some classical theremin players may suggest that any old theremin will be fine for effects, and for flapping your arms around randomly and a few simple woo-woos that's true. So I guess the question is, how far do you want to take your effects - I've been taking effects seriously since buying a theremin about three years ago, and the fact is; the better the theremin, the more you can do with it and the better it sounds.
Posted: 9/15/2008 3:58:04 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Gordon, I should just add that I have blown one of my smaller 6'' amps because the situation required more gain than it could handle and I tend to play a lot in the bass range. I didn't realize until later that it's now got a permenant buzz in the bass notes and I'll have to replace it.

Distortion is OK, but still watch your levels.

Thanks all for chiming in and helping out.
Posted: 9/15/2008 4:33:22 PM

From: Naperville, IL

Joined: 9/14/2008

I'm actually going to be getting an Ernie Ball mono volume pedal.. this is for guitars, but would this work for controlling the volume of a theremin alright as well? Also, would it affect the tone of the theremin even if it doesn't really affect the tone of a guitar?
Posted: 9/15/2008 4:34:30 PM

From: Naperville, IL

Joined: 9/14/2008

Also.. my amp is pretty damn big, it's 120 watts output, is this cause for concern, or is the concern only with smaller amps?
Posted: 9/15/2008 10:08:53 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

when, your rig, is pretty damn big
prob'ly you don't have to worry .
so hey get a theremin and plug it in.
can't wait to hear what's discovered.
Posted: 9/16/2008 7:41:22 PM

From: Undisclosed location without Dick Cheney

Joined: 2/21/2005

for what it's worth, I blew the speaker in a small cheap ($60) guitar amp too. I replaced it with the $99 Moog theremin amp, and for all everyone says it's not very good, it sounds much better and works fine.

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