Updated 8-14-99

Dave's Theremin Home Page presents...

The Paul Tanner Electro-Theremin Page

The Tannerin

A New Musical Instrument

The Tannerin, built by Tom Polk for Brian Wilson Tour. Photo by Tom Polk

On this page will be information on a new theremin-like instrument Tom Polk and myself are designing. It is based on Paul Tanner's late 1950s instrument- the one used in the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations", as well as many TV themes, movie soundtracks and electronica albums.

We are calling the instrument the Tannerin to honor Dr. Tanner and to distinguish it from the traditional theremin. There has always been a bit of confusion as to what exactly Paul's instrument was. It ended up being called an electro-theremin though it is not a theremin in the technical sense of the word. I might add that Paul himself did not name the instrument. His instrument was finished at 2 in the morning prior to its first recording session. The producers needed a name right away, I suppose. Paul said his friends referred to the instrument as Paul's box. So, through the years the instrument became known as the electro-theremin. An interesting point is that when the first record album appeared in 1959 (Music for Heavenly Bodies), the liner notes set the record straight at the very beginning that this was not a traditional theremin. They even compare its sound to Sam Hoffman's RCA theremin and point out how Paul's uses a sine wave. The liner notes make it clear that the instrument is a mechanical theremin- one utilizing a mechanical apparatus to control pitch.

What one finds when listening to Paul's instrument is that it is a very precise instrument. Its tone that of something out in the galaxies. Truly a unique sound all its own.

Presently I am experimenting with a modern re-creation of Paul's instrument. With Tom Polk's help, we have made a nice modern version. Revisions are being made as I type this. It is our hope to create an instrument that will carry on the genius of Dr. Tanner.

The Tannerin is not a replacement for the theremin. They each have their own special personalities. It is our hope to make as best an instrument as we can. Stay tuned here for the latest developments.

Brian Wilson now using our Tannerin!

(8-14-99) Recently I was contacted by a member of the band, The Wondermints, the band currently backing Brian Wilson on his world tour. They were in search of an instrument which would allowed them to authentically duplicate the sound of Paul Tanner's original instrument (the Electro-Theremin) used in "Good Vibrations". Working with Tom Polk, an instrument was built to their liking and is now on tour with Brian Wilson. The instrument was even mentioned in the New York Times. Wilson said he loves the instrument and that it is really helping their show a lot.

Tom put up a page about the instrument with photos and information. Click HERE to view the page.

The response from people has been overwhelming, and we hope to have instruments and/or kits available soon.

Sample the Tannerin

Here are a few samples from our early Tannerin models. Have a listen and enjoy!

Good Vibrations lick wav file, 43k
Here's That Rainy Day (J. Van Heusen) wav file, 1.1 mb
Here's That Rainy Day asf Windows Streaming Media file, 262k