Harrison Instruments
Model 302 Left-Handed Theremin User Manual
On-line Version

(Note: The Model 302 Left-Handed Theremin is identical to the Model 302 with the exception
that the pitch antenna is on the user's left, and the volume antenna is on the user's right.)

(Back to 302 Theremin product description page)

Table of Contents




Safety Notices


Unpacking and Inspection


Additional Materials Required


Introduction to the Theremin


Model 302 Theremin Control Knobs and Output Jack


Battery Installation


Setting Up the Model 302 Theremin


Playing the Model 302 Theremin


Grounding and Battery-Powered Amplifier Operation


Tone Knob


Model 302 Theremin Specifications


Troubleshooting Guide


Warranty and Repair Service


Contacting Harrison Instruments

1. Safety Notices <back to contents>

Read all the instructions in this manual prior to using this product. Retain these operating instructions for future reference.

When this product is connected to an external device such as an amplifier, a shock hazard may be present.
To avoid electric shock, do not operate this product in the rain or near water.
Do not allow this product to become wet.
Do not replace or supplement this product's battery with an external power supply.
Do not place cables connected to this product in areas where they can cause a trip hazard.
Do not play this instrument at a high volume, especially when using headphones.
Hearing experts advise against the continuous, extended use of headphones.
Do not disassemble this instrument. There are no user serviceable parts inside.
Refer servicing to qualified service personnel.

2. Unpacking and Inspection <back to contents>

The following items are contained in the carton:

  1. One Model 302 Theremin with four wing nuts for antenna attachment, battery installed
  2. Two plastic envelopes with one plate antenna in each (interchangeable)
  3. One Warranty Registration Form
  4. One Model 302 Theremin User Manual

Please retain the carton and all packing materials in the event the instrument has to be returned to Harrison Instruments for service.

Carefully remove the plastic wrapping from all items and inspect them for damage.

If damage is apparent:

RMA _____
PO BOX 9012

3. Additional Materials Required <back to contents>

The following items not supplied with the theremin are recommended for basic use:

4. Introduction to the Theremin <back to contents>

The theremin is named for its Russian inventor, Leon Theremin, who conceived of the instrument in 1918 and continued to developed it for several decades. It is one of the first electronic musical instruments, and has the distinction of being played by moving the hands within its proximity, without contact.

Theremins have two physical extensions called antennas. One of the antennas is used to control the pitch of the instrument's sound, and is referred to as the pitch antenna. The other is used to control the volume of the sound, and is referred to as the volume antenna. The pitch and volume produced by the theremin vary according to the capacitance between the hands and their respective antennas. The value of capacitance, in turn, is affected by the distance between each hand and its antenna.

The pitch-generating section of many theremins, including the Harrison Instruments Model 302, utilizes a principle called heterodyning, in which the signal from two inaudible, high-frequency oscillators are subtracted electronically to produce an audible difference frequency. One of the two high frequency oscillators provides a steady frequency, while the other oscillator's frequency is varied according to the change in capacitance between the hand and the pitch antenna. The volume-control section also uses changes in hand capacitance to alter the energy in a resonant circuit that, in turn, controls the loudness of the tone.

Many early designs of the theremin featured a vertical rod for the pitch antenna and a horizontal loop for the volume antenna. The 302 features two identical horizontal plates, one each for pitch and volume. The 302 also differs from traditional theremin designs in that the loudness of the tone increases as the hand is brought closer to the volume antenna, instead of becoming softer.

5. Model 302 Controls Knobs and Output Jack <back to contents>

The figure below identifies the front-panel features of the Model 302 Theremin. To provide visibility, the labels for the knobs are located on the top of the instrument. The OUTPUT JACK is located on the rear panel.

The following table describes the function of each feature.




Adjusts the response of the theremin's volume so that the tone is softest with the hand furthest away from
the volume antenna and loudest when the hand is just above the volume antenna.


Turns the theremin off in the fully-counterclockwise position, and adjusts the theremin's maximum output
volume, increased as the knob is turned clockwise.


Indicates when the instrument is on, and will not light when the battery is weak or expired.


Adjusts the output tone characteristic from a low-harmonic, sine-like wave (fully counterclockwise position)
to a harmonically-rich wave (fully clockwise position).


Adjusts the response of the theremin's pitch so that the tone frequency is lowest with the hand furthest
away from the pitch antenna, and highest when the hand is just above the pitch antenna.

6. Battery Installation <back to contents>

The 302 Theremin uses one 9V alkaline battery such as Duracell® type MN1604. The battery compartment is located under the rectangular aluminum cover on the top of the instrument. To access the compartment, unscrew the two round aluminum bushings, set them aside, and remove the aluminum cover. The figure below shows the theremin with the battery compartment bushings and cover removed, and a battery installed. Note that the battery connector is firmly snapped onto the top of the battery, and that the POSITIVE (+) terminal of the battery is on the left.

To remove the battery, slide it toward the front panel to increase the space between the battery connector and the back of the instrument. Then, using your index finger, press against the top of the battery connector, and lift it upward. The battery will snap out of its holding clip. Grasp the battery between your thumb and index finger, and lift it out of the compartment. Be careful not to pull excessively on the battery connector wires. Remove the old battery by unsnapping the connector. Snap the new battery onto the connector, observing proper polarity, and snap the battery into the holding clip with the POSITIVE (+) terminal of the battery on the left. Replace the compartment cover and bushings. The bushings should be hand-tightened only; do not use pliers.

To prevent damage to the instrument from possible leakage or corrosion, do not leave the battery in the theremin for extended periods of non-use.

7. Setting Up the Model 302 Theremin <back to contents>

  1. Loosen the BASE LOCKING KNOB on the microphone stand and slide the LEGS to the bottom of the OUTER TUBE. Tighten the
  2. Fully extend the LEGS and place the stand on a stable, level surface.
  3. If the stand has a LOCKING NUT, turn it completely clockwise so that the COUPLING THREADS are fully exposed above it.
  4. While grasping the INNER TUBE to preventing it from sliding downward, loosen the stand's height ADJUSTMENT COLLAR by turning it counterclockwise. The stand's INNER TUBE is now free to slide up and down.
  5. Continue to grasp the INNER TUBE with one hand while lowering the THEREMIN onto the top of the stand with your free hand.
  6. Engage the theremin's threaded ADAPTER with the stand's COUPLING THREADS.
  7. With the theremin perpendicular (90°) to the stand, slowly rotate the stand's INNER TUBE counterclockwise until it mates with the theremin's ADAPTER. Rotate the stand's INNER TUBE, and not the theremin, until it is tightly engaged with the ADAPTER.
  8. If the stand has a LOCKING NUT, tighten it by turning it clockwise against the ADAPTER.

    NOTE: The 302 Theremin's metal ADAPTER is electrically connected to the instrument's ground. This helps maximize the ground capacitance between the player and instrument. To prevent erratic operation, especially in instances where the theremin is used with a battery-powered amplifier without a "true" earth-ground connection, it is important to ensure that the theremin is securely coupled to the stand.

  9. Adjust the stand's height so that the top of the theremin is at waist level. Firmly tighten the stand's height ADJUSTMENT COLLAR.
    NOTE: To prevent damaging the threads on either the microphone stand or the theremin, always engage the theremin to the stand at a perpendicular (90°) angle and support the theremin so that the angle is maintained as the microphone stand's INNER TUBE is rotated into the theremin ADAPTER. Never force the threads and never freely spin the theremin on the coupling threads, as doing so will ruin the adapter. To prevent excessive wear, occasionally place a small amount of light machine oil on the stand's COUPLING THREADS.
  10. The antennas supplied are identical and interchangeable. Attach an ANTENNA to each side of the THEREMIN using the WING NUTS supplied. Hand-tighten the nuts securely. Do not use pliers. The antennas should be oriented so that their surfaces are parallel with the top of the theremin.
  11. Insert one end of the (user-supplied) audio instrument cable into the theremin OUTPUT JACK and the other end into the (user-supplied) amplifier/speaker system.
  12. Set the theremin's front panel knobs as follows:
    VOLUME ZERO:  9 o'clock position
    OFF/ON - LEVEL:  fully counterclockwise ("OFF")
    TONE:  12 o'clock position
    PITCH  ZERO:  3 o'clock position
    Perform the following steps with your hands and objects away from the antennas:
  13. Set the amplifier volume control to its minimum level.
  14. Set the theremin's OFF/ON - LEVEL knob to the 9 o'clock position. Note that the theremin's LED illuminates.
  15. Slowly increase the amplifier's volume control to approximately one-tenth of its maximum range.
  16. Slowly turn the VOLUME ZERO knob clockwise until a tone just becomes apparent in the speaker.
  17. Turn the PITCH ZERO knob counterclockwise until the pitch of the tone begins to decrease. Continue turning the knob just until tone becomes inaudibly low in pitch.

8. Playing the Model 302 Theremin <back to contents>

A few more steps must be performed before the theremin ready to play. First, it is important that the user is familiar with the following concept:

The output from the theremin is affected by the presence of any object, including any part of your body, within about four feet of either of its antennas. This means that your body position and body movement, and not just your hand positions, will affect the output pitch and volume. The player will not have exactly the same stance in front of the instrument each time, and the theremin's proximity to large objects such as furniture or walls will vary from one setup to another. Because of these factors, the theremin must be adjusted to compensate for these variations before it is played, as described in the following procedure.

In steps 1 through 3, the volume response will be adjusted:

  1. Stand directly centered in the front of the theremin, with your waist about 6 to 12 inches away. If you are using headphones, allow the cord to droop neatly downward from behind you, away from either antenna. It is important to remain still as you play because the proximity of your torso to the theremin will affect its response.
  2. Lift your right hand so that it is about one foot above the volume antenna. Note the volume level as your hand is lowered toward the antenna; the volume becomes louder as the distance between your hand and the antenna decrease. Touch the volume antenna with your hand and observe the volume. This is the loudest volume, and it may be adjusted with the OFF/ON-LEVEL knob. While still touching the volume antenna with your right hand, adjust the OFF/ON-LEVEL knob for a comfortable volume.
  3. Adjust the VOLUME ZERO knob to obtain the following response:
    a) The output tone is not present with your right hand away from the antenna (your right arm at your side).
    b) The output tone just becomes apparent with your right hand about one foot above the volume antenna. Note that the volume control distance will become smaller as the VOLUME ZERO knob is turned counterclockwise, and larger as it is turned clockwise.
    In steps 4 through 7, the pitch response will be adjusted:
  4. Purposely offset the VOLUME ZERO knob by turning it clockwise so that a tone will be present, even without the right hand near the volume antenna.
  5. Lift your left hand so that it is about one foot above the left antenna (pitch antenna). Note that the pitch increases as the distance between your hand and the antenna decreases.
  6. Adjust the PITCH ZERO knob to obtain the following response:
    a) The pitch is lowest with with your left hand about two feet above the antenna.
    b) The pitch is highest with your left hand about one inch above the antenna.
    Note that the pitch control distance will become smaller as the PITCH ZERO knob is turned counterclockwise, and larger as it is turned clockwise.
  7. Readjust the VOLUME ZERO knob to remove the offset that was applied in step 4.-

To obtain more spacing between notes in the alto or soprano range, you may offset the PITCH ZERO knob by rotating it clockwise, so that a middle pitch is obtained with your left hand away from the antenna. This will result in a smaller total pitch range, but will also provide more space between notes. Alternatively, shifting your stance so that you are slightly closer to the pitch antenna will also cause this offset to occur. With regard to the volume control distance, you may offset the VOLUME ZERO knob by rotating it counterclockwise, so that no sound is heard until the hand is within a few inches of the antenna. By doing so, a large volume change will occur with a small hand movement, facilitating stacatto passages. Smoothly flowing, legato response may be facilitated by offsetting the VOLUME ZERO knob in the clockwise direction.

As with any musical instrument, individuals will develop their own particular style for playing theremin. As a general guide, it is suggested that the hands are positioned above the antennas with vertical movement used as the primary means of changing pitch and volume. Some lateral movement of the hands is natural and can be useful in avoiding the monotony of purely vertical motion. However, the player should watch their hands to prevent them from drifting too far from the optimal sensing area. Movements of the individual fingers of the pitch hand, a technique often used by thereminists playing "pole" type instruments, may also be employed when playing the 302 Theremin, although the intervals obtained for the same movements will differ for the two types of instruments.

It is not uncommon for beginning thereminists to become tired from holding their hands in position for extended periods, although they usually become accustomed after several sessions. Repeated, abrupt, jerking motions should be avoided because such motions may cause stress and injury to the joints. Since some repositioning of the body while playing is inevitable, it is recommended that the player periodically check the response of the pitch, making sure that the lowest desired pitch is attained for a hand distance of about two feet. While standing is traditional, the theremin may also be played comfortably while seated. In this case, a short microphone stand should be used with the 302 Theremin.

There are many practice methods available for the thereminist. The ability to recognize the actual pitch of a note (e.g. "A" or "A#") is not required, but the ability to maintain and repeat the interval relationships between notes is important. It is recommended that the beginner start by playing along to a recorded melody while concentrating on obtaining the corresponding hand positions. In initial exercises, it is desirable to concentrate just on the pitch hand, while simply maintaining a fixed distance with the volume hand. The ability to use the volume hand to emphasise individual notes and provide the all-important dynamics of loudness will be attained intuitively once the student is comfortable with pitch control.

The rapid, cyclic motion of the pitch hand to create vibrato is a common technique. In this manner, the optimal desired pitch may be included within the extents of the vibrato range, therefore attaining the "perfect" pitch, at least momentarily. Vibrato typically spans the range of a quarter-tone to a full-tone interval and is an effective way to enhance technique. However, the ability to attain correct pitch with practically no vibrato is also a desirable skill. The same cyclic motions applied to the volume hand can also be used effectively for tremolo.

Recording your theremin sessions is an invaluable tool for improvement. After several practice sessions, it is suggested that the student play back a solo of moderate length and observe the accuracy of the pitch intervals and ability to maintain a consistent key. Improvement may also be attained by accompanying other instrumentalists. It is suggested that beginners find group opportunities without a vocalist, since the theremin may likely be used to play the vocal melody and possibly "compete" for the vocal range. One of the advantageous features of the 302 Theremin is its capability to produce bass tones, which may add a valuable element to the overall mix. While the theremin is often used for lead lines, it can also be used effectively in harmony or as backup.

The prospect for adding special effects to the 302 Theremin is limitless, but it is recommended that beginners first concentrate on playing "dry," perhaps with a small amount of reverberation added to provide presence. Reverberation also provides a small amount of persistence that some players find useful for attaining accurate intervals. While, historically, the theremin has been used to provide non-melodic sound, as in the stereotyped use for "special effects" in film, it is also capable of providing the means for articulate, accurate melodic work, given proper attention and adequate skill.

9. Grounding and Battery-Powered Amplifier Operation <back to contents>

A proper earth ground is essential for the 302 Theremin to operate predictably and provide the benefits of its full pitch and volume sensing distances. In mains-powered installations, the theremin receives its ground through the audio instrument cable that connects the theremin to the amplifier/speaker or mixing console.

Battery-powered amplifier/speakers do not provide the convenience of such a direct ground connection. However, the proper configuration of the audio instrument cable that connects the theremin to the amplifier/speaker can readily provide an adequate substitute. To achieve this, it is recommended that the cable, such as the recommended 15-foot Whirlwind® model number SN15, be laid in an approximate circular pattern immediately around the feet of the theremin stand and the player. Spread the cable out in a small area immediately in the vicinity of the stand to ensure that there is adequate capacitive coupling, and therefore grounding of the theremin, to the surface shared by the player and the instrument. The exact lay of the cable is not critical, but it is important not to "bundle up" the excess cable in one spot.

Note that specific adjustment to the VOLUME ZERO and PITCH ZERO knobs must be made each time the theremin is relocated. Part of these adjustments address differences in the effectiveness of the grounding in different locations. For example, the optimal settings of the ZERO knobs will change by several degrees for a 302 played in a steel-frame and concrete building, compared to one played through a battery-powered portable amplifier/speaker on a wood stage situated on a dry, sandy terrain.

Although many battery-powered amplifier/speakers provide multiple instrument and mic inputs, it is important that one is specifically dedicated to the theremin alone. This is because the variations in ground coupling from other inputs, for example, a guitar that is being moved while played, will affect the pitch and volume of the theremin.

Do not place cables connected to this product in areas where they can cause a trip hazard.

10. Tone Knob <back to contents>

The TONE knob on the 302 Theremin provides a wide variety of sound qualities. When fully counterclockwise, the theremin's tone will be sinewave-like, mostly devoid of harmonics. The fully clockwise setting of the TONE knob will produce a wave similar in qualities to a full-wave rectified sinewave, which is harmonically rich. Between these two extremes, a variety of tone qualities are available, including some that are similar to many other types of theremins.

CAUTION: Low-pitched tones, especially sinewaves, do not seem loud, but they may produce sufficient power to cause damage to amplifiers and loudspeakers. When setting up the theremin, always start with your amplifier/speaker system volume knob settings at low levels to prevent damage. It may be desirable to use an equalizer and/or limiter at the theremin's output to match the performance of your audio system.

NOTE: The degree of pitch accuracy attained by any particular thereminist, actual or perceived, may vary depending on the tone of the theremin. In some instances where a high-level accompaniment or high ambient noise is present, the player may elect to adjust the tone for a more sine-like quality so that most of the sound energy is in the fundamental region, therefore making it easier to attain the correct pitch. Many other factors also contribute to what tone may be most appropriate; for example, a sine-like tone, dissimilar to the sounds produced by most conventional instruments, may "stand out" too much in a mix, creating a sense of incompatibility with other instruments.

11. Model 302 Theremin Specifications <back to contents>

Useful pitch range Five octaves (55 Hertz to 1760 Hertz)
Available pitch range Seven octaves (27 Hertz to 3520 Hertz)
Nominal pitch sensing distance 18 inches
45.7 cm
Pitch response Frequency increases as hand distance decreases
Tone waveform characteristic range Sine-like wave to fully-rectified sine-like wave
Volume dynamic range 47dB minimum
Nominal volume sensing distance 14 inches
35.6 cm
Volume response Volume increases as hand distance decreases
Control compliment Volume Zero knob
Off/On-Level Knob
LED Power / Battery-Good Indicator
Tone  knob
Pitch Zero knob
Output connector 1/4" Mono Phone Jack for standard audio instrument cable
Output impedance Approximately 900 Ohms
Maximum output level 5 Volts Peak-to-Peak (+7dBu)
Power source One IEC 6LR61 9V Alkaline Battery,
Duracell® MN1604 or equal
Battery life 24 hours, minimum
Operating temperature range 40°F to 100°F
Storage temperature range -10°F to 120°F
Overall dimensions (without antennas): 8 3/8" L x 5 1/16" W x 3 1/2" H
21.27 cm L x 12.86 cm W x 8.89 cm H
Overall dimensions (with antennas): 26" L x 5 1/16" W x 3 1/2" H
66 cm L x 12.86 cm W x 8.89 cm H
Antenna sensing area 8" L  x  5.5"  W
20.3 cm L  x  14 cm W
Weight Approximately 2 Pounds
0.91 kg
Shipping weight Approximately 3 Pounds
1.4 kg

12. Troubleshooting Guide <back to contents>


Possible Cause

Recommended Action

The LED does not illuminate when the Off/On-Level Knob is turned clockwise. The battery is dead or weak. Replace the battery.

(Refer to Section 6, "Battery Installation.")

The battery connector is not making proper contact. Examine the terminals on both the battery and the battery connector and gently reshape both female terminals by slightly squeezing their edges together.
There is no sound from the speaker. The LEVEL knob on the theremin is set too low. Turn the theremin LEVEL knob clockwise.
The volume control on the external amplifier or external sound system is set too low and/or an input selector switch is set incorrectly. Increase the volume and/or gain of the external amplifier or sound system;
check relevant selector switch positions.
The audio instrument cable connecting the theremin to the external equipment is defective. Replace the cable with a known-good one.
The sound is distorted. The LEVEL knob on the theremin is set too high for the external amplifier or sound system. Reduce the theremin output by turning the LEVEL knob counterclockwise until the sound is undistorted.
The gain and/or volume control on the external amplifier or external sound system is set too high. Reduce the gain and/or volume of the external sound system.
A decrease, instead of increase of pitch occurs as the hand is brought closer to the pitch antenna. The PITCH ZERO knob is not adjusted properly. Turn the theremin ZERO knobs clockwise until the desired response is obtained.

(Refer to Section 7, "Setting Up the Model 302 Theremin,"and Section 8, "Playing the Model 302 Theremin.")

The pitch scale is constrained within too short a range of hand positions. For example, the lowest pitch occurs when the hand is 5 inches away from the antenna.
The volume range is constrained within too short a range of hand positions. For example, the volume range begins when the hand is 5 inches away from the antenna. The VOLUME ZERO knob is not adjusted properly.
The note positions change while the theremin is played. There are variations in your body position. Hold your body at a consistent distance from the theremin, and only move your hands up and down above the antennas.
Objects are being moved in the proximity of the theremin. Eliminate moving personnel and objects within a four-foot proximity of the theremin, or move the theremin to a less-trafficked area.
There is a persistent "fluttering" of the pitch of the tone and/or the volume level. There is interference from a nearby electronic device and/or another theremin.

Some audio electronic products, including many "effects pedals," use a type of AC wall adapter capable of producing interference.

Move the theremin to a different area.

Selectively unplug each effect device wall adapters from the AC outlet and note if the problem is resolved. Note: In many cases, newer-type adapters that create interference may be substituted with the older types that do not cause interference.

When used with a battery-powered amplifier/speaker, the PITCH ZERO knob can not be adjusted adequately to obtain a useful scale; the scale is constrained within too short a range of hand positions even when the PITCH ZERO knob is fully clockwise. There is inadequate ground coupling to the theremin. Refer to Section 9, "Grounding and Portable Operation."
When used with a battery-powered amplifier/speaker, the VOLUME ZERO knob can not be adjusted adequately to obtain a range; the volume range is constrained within too short a range of hand positions even when the VOLUME ZERO knob is fully clockwise.
A pitch change occurs when the volume hand is moved, even when the pitch hand is held steady.
When used with a battery-powered amplifier/speaker, there are abrupt, small pitch shifts without hand movement. The theremin is not tightly coupled to the stand. Ensure that the theremin's mounting coupler is securely threaded onto the stand.

13. Model 302 Theremin Warranty and Repair Service <back to contents>

Harrison Instruments Two-Year Limited Warranty

Harrison Instruments Corporation ("Harrison Instruments") warrants this product to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for a period of two (2) years from date of purchase, PROVIDED, however, that this limited warranty is extended only to the original purchaser and is subject to the following conditions, exclusions and limitations hereinafter set forth:

This limited warranty shall be void and of no effect, if:

  1. The first purchase of the product is for the purpose of resale; or
  2. The original purchase of the product is not made from Harrison Instruments; or
  3. The product has been damaged by accident or unreasonable use, neglect, improper maintenance, or other causes; or
  4. The serial number affixed to the product is altered, defaced, or removed; or
  5. The product's enclosure is opened by any party not authorized by Harrison Instruments.

In the event of a defect in materials or workmanship covered by this limited warranty, Harrison Instruments will repair the defect in materials or workmanship without charge or replace the product, at Harrison Instruments' option, provided however, that in any case, all costs of shipping for the purpose of shipping the product to Harrison Instruments for repair are paid by you, the purchaser.


In order to obtain service under this warranty, you must:

  1. Contact Harrison Instruments and obtain a Return Materials Authorization (RMA) number.
  2. Ship the defective product, FREIGHT PREPAID and INSURED for its purchase value, to:

    PO BOX 9012

  3. Include a complete, detailed description of the problem.
  4. Include a complete return address.

If the defect can be remedied under this limited warranty and other terms and conditions expressed herein have been complied with, Harrison Instruments will provide the necessary warranty service to repair or replace the product and will return it to you, the purchaser.

Limitation of Liability

Harrison Instruments' liability to the purchaser from any cause whatsoever and regardless of the form of action, including negligence, is limited to the the amount of the original purchase price of the product that caused the damage or that is the subject of, or directly related to, the cause of action.

Harrison Instruments does not assume liability for personal injury or property damage arising out of, or caused by, any or all alterations or attachments to its products, nor does Harrison Instruments assume any responsibility for damage to interconnected non-Harrison Instruments products that may result from the normal functioning and maintenance of Harrison Instruments products.

14. Contacting Harrison Instruments
<back to contents>

Contact Harrison Instruments by e-mail at

or in writing at:

PO BOX 9012

(Back to 302 Theremin product description page)

Copyright Notice: This manual, either in electronic or printed form, ©2009, 2010 by Harrison Instruments, Incorporated.
Harrison Instruments, Incorporated reserves the right to make changes to this manual without prior notice.

Publication Number 302-LEFT-HANDED-UM-1
Rev. 0  2010 AUG 21