10 Cool Electronic Music Instruments Under $100

Looking for a gift for an electronic musician – or maybe a cool new toy for your music laboratory?

Here are 10 electronic music instruments under $100 to check out:

10 Cool Electronic Music Instruments Under $100

bliptronic-5000-cheap-tenori-onThe Bliptronic 5000 LED Synthesizer looks like it could be the offspring of a Yamaha Tenori On crossed with a 25-year old Casiotone.

Like the Tenori On, the Bliptronic 5000 is a matrix synth, featuring an 8 x 8 matrix of buttons that act as switches to control what notes get played.

Like a Casiotone, the Bliptronic has cheestastic sounds.

You can get one for $49.99 at Think Geek.

gakken-sx-150-analog-synthesizer-kitThe Gakken SX-150 Analog Synthesizer is a $54.95 kit that lets you build a simple synthesizer. It features controls for LFO, pitch envelope, frequency cutoff, resonance, and attack/decay

It’s a cool little synth, but what makes it really cool is that it’s become popular with hackers, who’ve figured out how to add MIDI to the SX-150 and more.

You can get the SX-150 at MakerShed.

Drawdio is $17.50 DIY project that lets you create a basic musical synthesizer that uses the conductive properties of pencil graphite to create different sounds.

drawdio_MED

In other words – it lets you draw musical instruments that you can play.

thingamagoop-2Bleep Labs’ Thingamagoop 2 is a DIY kit that lets you build your own anthropomorphic robot synthesizer.

How cool is that?

You can use it to make weird sounds, with light-theremin controls, or get hardcore and hack it with your mad Arduino skills. You can even use it to control your old-school analog synths!

The Thingamagoop 2 is $100 at Bleep Labs.

stylophone

The Stylophone is a miniature stylus operated synthesizer. It was invented in 1967 and used by such iconic musicians as David Bowie, Kraftwerk and Erasure. It features a metal keyboard played by touching it with a stylus.

The Stylophone has been updated only minimally in the last 40 years, getting an audio input, so you can play along to an iPod.

You can get Stylophones for $19.99 at Think Geek.

crackleboxThe Cracklebox is an inexpensive synth, first released in the 70’s, that is described as “the first commercialy available portable self-powered alternative ‘keyboard’ analog audio synthesizer.”

Derived from concepts taken from circuit-bending, the Cracklebox is played by touching metal plates and letting your body become part of the circuit. Some consider the Cracklebox to be the archetype of ‘glitch’ or ‘circuit bending’.

The price of a Cracklebox is €50 + shipping costs.

The Stylophone Beatbox continues the cheap, but cool, music toy tradition of the Stylophone. The Beatbox is a portable electronic beat machine that features electro sounds, including samples from UK beatbox champion MC Zani.

Cooler still, it’s got a looping feature, so you can layer sounds.You can get the Stylophone Beatbox at 100milligrams for $25.50.

Here’s the Brett Domino Trio demoing the Stylophone Beatbox:

YouTube Preview Image

The Throbbing Gristle Gristleism is a $28 sound thing that is part industrial sound machine, part noise instrument.
gristleism-buddha-machine

Available in three colors – Black, Chrome and Red – the palm-sized unit features a built-in speaker, volume control, pitch-shift control and loop selector switch.

They are available at the Forced Exposure site.

gameboy-sequencerGameboys can be purchased on the cheap, since they’re 20 years old and jillions were made.

Add a Gameboy music sequencer, like Oliver Wittchow’s Nanoloop, and you can turn an old toy into a 4-track sequencer / synthesizer that’s addictive like crack.

You can get Gameboys for almost nothing.

Nanoloop is a 58 or 65 Euro cartridge , depending on the version you want, via Wittchow’s site.

Make sure you check the Gameboy hardware requirements before you order your cartridge.

Finally, the $Gakken Mini-Theremin ($29.95 at Maker Shed) is an easy-to-build DIY theremin kit.

Yes – it’s a Barbie Theremin – but it’s actually playable:

Got other ideas for cheap electronic music gear gifts? Leave a comment!


28 thoughts on “10 Cool Electronic Music Instruments Under $100

  1. Funny, I bought nanoloop a week ago! Really recommended, can be hard to learn at first, but it's worth it! Nice user community also. Search for CHIPTUNE on youtube :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2
  2. The interface takes some getting used to, but the app is so minimal that you get a hang of it pretty quickly.

    Have you tried MIDI sync with it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4
  3. great roundup. funny how you got the thingamagoop in under $100 though – that's the unassembled version :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3
  4. I bought it a few weeks ago as soon as it was released. It's pretty terrible in terms of clarity and use. The samples are horrible in quality. For it's price you can get a larger better sample library somewhere else or even do a better job at beatboxing yourself. The samples sound like they were recorded at 8-bit, 11khz or lower. The "record" feature is awkward and it's almost impossible to get a sound on the first beat (you have to hit the record plate and quickly move the stylus to a sound plate). It's okay as a novelty, but not really worth the money.

    I sampled all the sounds into Ableton Live and my Korg microSampler and put it on a shelf next to my stylophone, and put the batteries to better use…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
  5. my bad, i realized this after i posted it. i guess i have a chip on my shoulder cause i bought the thingamakit and never assembled it. the thinking behind that product was they didn't have the manpower to release it as an assembled product. i hope to assemble it one day though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  6. I would be soooo interested in a MIDIfied Bliptronic. Punch in a sequence of notes and let one note of a controller keyboard start the whole thing. In proper pitch of course. I see a huge drawback to this device as every time you want to change a chord, you have to switch all the individual notes. Would be very interested to see what owner's think of this device.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2
  7. My son and I BOTH got a Bliptronic 5000 for Christmas and one of the first things we did was to link them together. We soon discovered something new and undocumented…

    [youtube 8lcUJ9Md680 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lcUJ9Md680 youtube]

    It's lots of fun, even tho the sound is mono, a bit lo-fi and noisy, but for $50 dollars it's worth it for the as yet untapped the mod factor once some tech-savvy folks hack a few!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
  8. Awesome top 10! I would like to add the U-Create Music by Radica. About $40 retail but I got mine for $20 on cyber Monday at Amazon. It is a touchpad activated sampler and rythm looping device with built in effects controlled by a cool blue LED orb. Within hours of opening the box, I was able to employ a trick provided by some very enthusiastic users on the following forum to load my own samples onto all of the touch controls: http://nomeist.com/ucreate-music/199#comments
    A few hours later my band had written and recorded a song using the swapped out unit as for the beat and synth sequences. Coolest music toy ever!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  9. Awesome top 10! I would like to add the U-Create Music by Radica. About $40 retail but I got mine for $20 on cyber Monday at Amazon. It is a touchpad activated sampler and rythm looping device with built in effects controlled by a cool blue LED orb. Within hours of opening the box, I was able to employ a trick provided by some very enthusiastic users on the following forum to load my own samples onto all of the touch controls: http://nomeist.com/ucreate-music/199#comments
    A few hours later my band had written and recorded a song using the swapped out unit as for the beat and synth sequences. Coolest music toy ever!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  10. Excellent post, very informative. I ponder why the other experts of this sector do not notice this. You should proceed your writing. I’m confident, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!|What’s Taking place i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads. I’m hoping to contribute & help other customers like its aided me. Great job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
  11. synthhead on November 28, 2009 at 1:20 am said:

    It’s going to be the next big platform for music hacking, don’t you think?
    ___________________________________
    No many people already have iPads so yamaha’s Tenori-On simulating app TNR-i will beat it yes I just realised this was an 09 comment I’m responding to and it was dumb of me not to notice earlier

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  12. Korg’s new Kaoss products? There’s a synth for $150 and an effects processor for $150

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
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