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
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.
The 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.
In other words – it lets you draw musical instruments that you can play.
Bleep 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.
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.
The 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:
The Throbbing Gristle Gristleism is a $28 sound thing that is part industrial sound machine, part noise instrument.
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.
Gameboys 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!