On average, a decent Theremin will cost around USD200 -400, depending on size and quality of materials. Beginner Theremin can be as low as USD100+ from certain online stores such as Amazon or Ebay.
Currently, there isn’t that many Theremin manufacturers. The most famous one is probably Moog as you can find their products being sold in all the online stores.
Another brand is Burns Zep Theremin. Their Burns B3 model is known among the Theremin players. Unfortunately, not many stores carry them. You have to go Amazon for smaller brands or Ebay.
To give you an idea on the average price of a Theremin on the Internet, here are some data that I have gathered from the different music online stores.
- Amazon: USD99 (cheapest) to USD650 (most expensive). Brands carried is Burns and Moog
- Guitar Center: USD350 (cheapest) to USD650 (most expensive). Only carry Moog.
- Sweetwater: USD350 (cheapest) to USD650 (most expensive). Only carry Moog.
- Musiciansfriend: USD350 (cheapest) to USD650 (most expensive). Only carry Moog.
Theremin buying guide vs cost
A Theremin is a straight forward instrument compared to the likes of a guitar or drum. Having said that, there are important factors that can vary with the price you are paying:
- Single vs Dual: A single antenna Theremin is usually cheaper but you cannot control volume with it. As a result, it is ok for creating sound effects but very limited in terms of actual music playing. For that a dual antenna Theremin is recommended.
- Size: A bigger size Theremin is more expensive but it allows ease of play. The physical space between notes will be larger, thus having a less likelihood of hitting the wrong note.
- Linearity: Related to the size factor is the concept of linearity. This means the notes are placed evenly across the Theremin. Although there is no perfect linearity. the more expensive models tend to be better in this aspect.
- Timber Control: The more expensive models have pitch control knobs that enable you to vary the tone, from flute-like to harsher options. A beginner player usually will find these options pretty useless as they will be focus on mastering the basics.
- Kits vs Prebuilts: If you are a DIY kind of person, buying a kit is cheaper. The two well known ones are Moog Etherwave Standard Theremin Kit and the PAIA ThereMin Kit. However, you must be good at things like soldering or know someone who does. For beginners, buying a prebuilt Theremin is much easier and is worth the extra dollars.
- Electronic vs analogue: For non traditionalists, there are now digital options which is not a bad choice. You get to set the instrument to a music scale so it is easier to hit the right notes without worrying about the actual position of your hand. You also get to play with many more effects for music experimentation.
- Accessories: For folks practicing at home, no other accessories are needed. You might want a headphone in case your room is not soundproof. Good news is most Theremin comes with headphone jacks. Another accessory to consider might an amp. It gives you greater volume during stage performance but also allows you to hear more precisely your own playing notes.
Cost of profession theremin
One of the professional theremin I have come across is the Etherwave Pro by Moog. Unfortunately, it is no longer being manufactured.
If you want to know how much can a professional Theremin cost, see this screenshot below. The price tag is USD8000!
The next best alternative is the Moog Etherwave Plus Theremin, which retails for USD650. This model can be purchased at any of the online stores mentioned above.
To bring the Etherwave Plus to a more professional level, you can consider adding the Pitch Extension Module” ESPE01 as recommended by Carolina Eyck, the world famous Theremin player.
According to Carolina, the ESPE01 has the following benefits
- Add 2 octtaaves to your range
- Improve the linearity, which I have talked about above
- Smoothens the timber without the need for a timber control knob
It is unfortunate that there is no cheaper priced Theremin for beginners. My guess is probably because nobody is making them anymore, thus giving current manufacturers some kind of monopoly pricing power.
If you want to give the Theremin a try, i would say setting aside a budget of USD300-400 is needed to get a good quality Theremin.