Custom Tannerins, Slide Theremins, Electro-Theremins
Built by Tom Polk

    A Tannerin is an electronic instrument named after Paul Tanner, who originated its use in the 1950s.   Dr. Tanner's instrument was formerly called an "electro-theremin."   "Tannerin" is an honorary and more accurate name for an instrument that utilizes a complex mechanically controlled oscillator, which differentiates it from theremins, and whose characteristics are intended to be a reasonably close replica of Dr. Tanner's original instrument.

     A slide theremin is a more general term for an instrument that sounds like a Tannerin, but has a different mechanical/electrical configuration.  A Tannerin is a slide theremin, but a slide theremin is not necessarily a Tannerin.

    My latest instruments have been professional instruments, more durable than my earlier Tannerin designs.  Because the linkage is different from what Tannerin authority David Miller has discovered the original Tannerin to employ, I believe it is more accurate to categorize my newer instruments as slide theremins.  Aside from the volume control and power switch, they have only one moving part.  Enjoy the images!

Brian Wilson Tour Tannerin
Oftedal Slide Theremin

Fixed tuning

Sine wave output

Improved keyboard linearity

More compact

Kabourek Slide Theremin

Fixed tuning

Sine, square, triangle wave output

Most Complicated 

Most Expensive

Creative Slide Theremin

Continuously variable tuning
(thus, performer makes own keyboard)

Sine wave output

Uses wand pressed against
top front edge (black)
to change pitch.



  Occasionally I receive requests for instruments, kits, or more information.  I'll try to answer these below. 

These instruments were all custom built to order, sold for several hundred dollars and are no longer available.  Though it kills me to disappoint, I just don't have the time it takes to build them.  Configuring a kit is under consideration, but it still takes time I don't have, and there is no projected timeline.  Schematics are proprietary and are not for sale or distribution.

I hope some day to be able to start producing the instruments or kits. If it happens, I'll be happy to email you.   I won't spam you and I have no intention of letting your email address leave my machine except when you hear from me.  If you don't properly identify yourself in your email, you probably won't get a response from me.

To satisfy the curious, following are the specifications  for a typical instrument.

All instruments are individually-built.
features are: On-off switch; left hand fast volume control for
attack/decay facility; brass slider, optional finger switch for staccato at additional expense;
solid anodized aluminum slider bar; pilot light; two prong 120v AC cord;
3 1/2 to 4 octave range starting with a note around low C; tone is sine
wave unless special order at additional expense; oak or poplar cabinet;
1/4" mono output phone jack.

 My Homebuilt Musical Instruments

 The Brian Wilson Tour Instrument

I quickly return emails to those who properly identify themselves.
 I also appreciate the courtesy
 of telling me how you learned of this page.

Click here for email address


Page created September 1, 2000