DIY Ondes Martenot, The Ginette

Petteri Mäkiniemi sent in this video that demonstrates the Ginette, a DIY instrument, based on the Ondes Martenot.

Here’s what Mäkiniemi has to say about the Ginette.

I designed and built this instrument during 2010-2011. The idea is based on the ondes Martenot that was invented by Maurice Martenot in 1928.

My instrument is named ‘Ginette’ after Ginette Martenot – an ondist and the sister of Maurice Martenot. She played ondes Martenot at the premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie.

The heart of the instrument is a voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) that produces the sound. I found great VCO design from Music From Outer Space website. The VCO produces four waveforms or timbres – sine, triangle, ramp and square – which can be selected on the panel. The range of the fingerboard is four octaves and on the panel there is an octave selection knob, so the total pitch range is nine octaves. In practice the tracking isn’t so accurate in very high and low registers.

There are connectors for an external CV and a gate, so the instrument can also be controlled using external device like a keyboard or a sequencer, which both are my future DIY projects. I am going to improve the instrument by adding a voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA). This would fix the problem with the volume control button that leaks some signal when it’s supposed to be mute.

The background noise in the video is due to the tube amplifier.

Mäkiniemi notes he was inspired by Dana Countryman’s take on the Ondes Martenot.

25 thoughts on “DIY Ondes Martenot, The Ginette

  1. Very nice build! Thanks for the internal views, too.

    How did you construct the button that determines the volume?

  2. I constructed the volume button by machining a black plastic (POM) using a milling machine. There is a linear position sensor or basically a linear potentiometer that determines the volume. A photo would be more understandable… I can add more photos of my instrument later.

  3. Hey Petteri,

    that looks and sounds amazing!! I understand you based your design for the string mechanism on Dana's 10-turn potentiometer idea; regarding this, I have one question. I'm building an ondes myself right now, or rather just a Dana-based string controller for my modular (Doepfer system) synth. Theoretically, everything works, but I'm having a lot of trouble with the tuning. Somehow the potentiometer does not seem to be linear above 2 or 3 turns.. so the upper octaves are really out of tune. Could you specify which potentiometer you used and/or how you dealt with the tuning (since yours seems to be perfectly in tune!)?
    I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!!
    – Till

  4. Hi Till,

    I use Bourns 3590-series 10-turn wirewound potentiometer. Datasheet tells that linearity is ±0.25%. I didn't have any problems with linearity with the first pot I used, but I had to change it because of wearing (the joint between the shaft of the pot and the pulley shaft was slightly twisted, so I assume that eccentric rotation wears out the pot faster), and it seems that the second pot is not so linear, but it is bearable. Both pots are Bourns 3590s. Fine tuning is quite easy to do by holding the pulley and sliding the string. I got also coarse and fine tuning pots inside the instrument.

    I'm glad to hear you too are building this kind of string controller. I would be very much intrerested in seeing your design.

  5. Do you sell these? I need one of these in the worst way to complete some of my compositions. The "French Connection" made by Analog Systems is just too expensive. Please make me one?

  6. If I am building an Ondes prototype with solely the Ruban, like this one, what should I take in consideration if I wanted two Rubans from the same board. Is one VCO from MFOS sufficient to be split in two or should I add in a second one? Thank you and very nice prototype. Can’t wait to show you mine!

  7. How can one use a multi-turn pot with MFOS’ VCO? Is another circuitry necessary or is it simply possible to assign the pot to a CV, modulate the frequency and output through oscillator outputs? Are any gate and trigger inputs necessary or is that an optional sound modulation?
    Thank you for your comments.

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