A better case?

Posted: 1/3/2012 10:40:41 PM

From: Florida

Joined: 11/24/2006

I love the Theremin since I first became aware of it when Tim Burton used it in his movie about Ed Wood.

I've wanted to contribute something to the Theremin world but I'm not an electronics expert so the odds of me coming up with some new circuit or improvement are pretty unlikely.

I am an artist and a designer though. I've come up with some interesting designs for a case for the Theremin. Most cases, besides the Etherewave Pro, are just wooden rectangles. Kind of dull and uninteresting for such an unusual instrument.

Is there any interest in something like this though? I would have to charge something for them and there would be a lot of work to actually make them. I'd have to make the model for the case, mold it, cast it (in plastic resin) and then finish it.

I'm not looking to make a fortune here. I get that no matter how cool I think the design is I'm not going to sell a million of them.

What do you think? Is there interest in this kind of thing?


Posted: 1/3/2012 11:56:29 PM
RS Theremin

From: 60 mi. N of San Diego CA

Joined: 2/15/2005


A familiar name, did we talk in cyber space 2004?  Darn it you are in Florida and I am on the other coast. Do you have sketches or how do you present your theremin case artistic designs?

The real question is do you want many orders for an EtherWave Standard box replacement which probably won't have high demand or create a few unique enclosures for a grand theremin in sound and design that Lev Sergeyevich would be proud, that just might make you part of evolutionary theremin history?

A theremin appearance which lacks of artistic beauty has always bothered me. This wonderful musical instrument once in a while, a “rare” moment, will come to life and illuminate the musician and then quietly return to furniture, a sleeping coffin.


Posted: 1/4/2012 12:44:43 AM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

The reason most theremin cases are so boring is because they are examples of function over form.  Cabinets cost money and the more elaborate they are the more expensive they'll be.  The RCA cabinet may be understated, but the reason they are even made of mahogany is because it was relatively inexpensive back then.  (My 1901 front porch is actually mostly made of mahogany!)

It's a great idea, and I've come up with a few ideas myself over the years. But, how many people are going to pay double what the theremin is worth for a nice cabinet?  A few, but not many.

Posted: 1/4/2012 12:09:09 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Your ardor is impressive but I think you must temper it with a dose of reality. Most theremin enthusiasts do not have much disposable income. The way to go about what you are proposing would be to make a single theremin cabinet for your own instrument, publish some photos of it on the internet (especially here on TW) and offer to create an original design, to individual specifications, for interested buyers. I don't think it would be wise to invest time and money in a "line" of different cabinets that you would then offer for sale. You could end up with all of them sitting in your living room for the next 20 years.

Jeff, you could make a theremin out of your front porch!

In China, where there are many centuries old wooden houses that are demolished every year to make room for "development", the usable wood is recycled into musical instruments by luthiers. The instruments can fetch thousands of dollars and are advertised as having been made from wood that has been aged since the 16th or 17th century.


Posted: 1/4/2012 3:18:46 PM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

I want a theremin into a sunflower :) Can you do that? :)

Posted: 1/4/2012 8:15:33 PM

From: portland

Joined: 11/30/2011

Yeah, i also appreciate the enthusiasm, but i dont think there would be much of a market, there are few thereminists, and a good percentage are DIYers and would look at your cases and just make their own.Though im sure, if you made a few for yourself, you could get a few orders for custom designs, though I dont know how many people would pay the $400 or so for a one-off custom case that one would have to charge.

But, on another note, I always liked the minimalist cases. One, simply cause I never liked decoration on musical instruments, they should look solid and functional, cause you arent supposed to be looking at me or my instrument when im playing anyway, but thats sort of still a lingering reaction of mine against the spectacle of the 80s. And two I think mostly people get initially attracted to the theremin for some sort of nostolgic-retro-failed-idealist-futurism and, of course,  the fact you are playing the air, both, which conceptually having a fancy case works against. The cases were designed mostly to be unnoticable as possible for the time period. Which isnt to say, a custom case couldnt work, just throwing out my 2 cents.

Posted: 1/4/2012 9:26:25 PM

From: Flying with the Phoenix

Joined: 3/9/2011

For what it's worth :-) ---

After I bought my first Theremin (B3 Long case), I just had to build my own one. It's hard to explain, but as the process of 1. Dreaming, 2. Designing, 3. Building takes place there is a special "connection" with the instrument that takes place. Even though I am not skilled at all in the electronics of a Theremin I am going to attempt (with the help of a friend) to design and build a "complete" unit. The Sewer Pipe unit was my first build, but the circuitry was a Theremax so the case was the only thing that was my doing. This is just my feelings on the subject, but, I could never "play" a Theremin, but I do "Express" myself with it. ---- I think there is a "Virus" in the voice that a person gets and the only cure is becoming One with IT!

I know this is off subject, but, IMO there would be a very limited demand for just the case, maybe more for a "complete" custom unit :-)

My 2 cents.


Posted: 1/4/2012 11:00:29 PM
RS Theremin

From: 60 mi. N of San Diego CA

Joined: 2/15/2005

 We needed a fresh topic,

 The theremin enclosure has long been the thorn in my side. I had someone over to my house not long ago that is a master sculptor in wood and metal, a graduate of the San Diego State Art program. He lives about two miles from me, I paid him and there were others $100 just for their visit. It is my way of having friends; no actually it is fishing for the right person that gets it!

 The theremin must guide the design as there are physics and physical parameters that must be shown respect. This is why to commission someone at a long distance for my project probably would not work.

 Ardor, California is not a bad place to live if you don’t mind a little earth shaking.

Posted: 1/5/2012 6:50:46 AM

From: Florida

Joined: 11/24/2006

@RS THeremin We might have talk back in 2004. I was active on this site back then. That's one of the reasons that I came here to ask the question. I knew this was probably the best place to ask a question to people who might be interested.

I'm not talking about a cabinet in the style of the original RCA Theremin though. What I have in mind is totally different. Think of something that looks more like a satellite or maybe a piece of scientific equipment.

I know of the functional qualities the case needs to have. My design takes that into account.

I do have a 3D rendering of the design but it's on my other computer. Maybe I'll post it tomorrow.

Obviously cost would be a factor. If it's too expensive I won't be able to create it and no one will want to buy it. I get that. That's why I would make a mold of the original case and cast copies of it. Once the mold is done then it's only the cost of the resin (a castable plastic) and my labor that would go into making up the cost of the case.

I know there isn't a lot of money to be made here. I was just curious if there was any interest in a cool looking Theremin case.

I wasn't thinking of just trying to sell a case though. It would come with a Theremin. I was planning it around the Etherewave only because that seems to be the most popular instrument.

Although from looking at it on line the case design would also probably work for the B3 Theremin.Which has seemed to improve a lot since I last looked at it.

@nieradka Your concern about the case distracting from the music is something I've considered. Whether my design is too distracting or not is really personal preference. You may not care for my design.

@Coalport My ardor is impressive... Does that comment come with a rim shot :-) LOL

I don't know... Maybe I'll just make one for myself and put up some youtube videos if it comes out well. I'd probably get a better judge of interest that way anyhow...

@Amethyste You could probably make a Sunflower Theremin out of a Pitch only Theremin. Put the electronics in a flower pot under some plastic grass, Use some kind of green plastic tubing maybe for the antenna and then glue a plastic sunflower "head" to the top of the tube. It would be pitch only though...

Oh and RS I used to live in Oceanside, CA. I moved to Florida in late 2010 :-/

Posted: 1/5/2012 3:35:30 PM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

"One, simply cause I never liked decoration on musical instruments, they should look solid and functional, cause you arent supposed to be looking at me or my instrument when im playing anyway ...

What are we supposeto look at then? When I am looking at a video on someone playing the theremin, i look at the whole ensemble. The fact that someone added a little paint here or there to make their instrument attractive to them doesn't really corrupt the functionality of the theremin (of course there are exception to this like in everything). I must please myself first before other can enjoy what I am doing behind the theremin. But to each its own :)

Things would be different I suppose if I was part of the world class theremin players who share their space with an orchestra, i'd have a plain theremin, so it wouldn't compete with the other musician's instrument.

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