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 are 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.



    I receive requests for kits and schematics.  A kit is in development, and the schematics are proprietary.  As long as I am occupied building custom slide theremins, the kit is being delayed.
I expect a kit will not be available until
sometime in late 2002.

A custom instrument takes a minimum of two months to build.  Each is hand-crafted and unique.  They sell for several hundred dollars. As of October 2001, due to a backlog, I am currently not taking orders.  After the remaining orders are filled, I plan to configure a kit so that it doesn't take special tools or equipment to build and calibrate an instrument.  My goal is for the kit to sell for $200.00 or less.

Following are the specifications  for a typical  Oftedal style instrument.

All instruments are individually-built using analog circuitry. Common
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.

 Email Tom Polk for pricing and terms


Page created September 1, 2000