The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Mar. 26, 2014
Through the filters of locally made boutique electronic musical instrument
Though he may not consider himself one, Mike Beauchamp is by definition an inventor.
Working out of a central Windsor basement, the 34-year-old Windsor native creates a custom electronic musical instrument which has been featured in films and on records.
Based on an analog synthesizer created by Ondes Martenot in France in the 1930s, Therevox is the result of multiple requests from interested customers who discovered Beauchamps early prototypes.
“I was building one offs for myself 10 to 12 years ago and I was getting e-mail requests from people wanting me to build them one,” said Beauchamp. “So I was building one offs for people contacting me, but never thought about turning it into a business.”
Beauchamp has a computer science degree from the University of Windsor and has always considered himself an “electronics guy.” He combined his knowledge of electronics, woodworking and music to create his instrument.
“I’ve always considered myself somebody who could build things… like a DIY maker,” said Beauchamp. “[But] this is the first time that I’ve wanted to put all of the skills that I know single product.”
The instrument contains two analog oscillators, a filter, spring reverb, multiple waveform generating circuits and a whole lot of other electronic components that control pitch, amplitude and the other myriad of analog functions that makes the Therevox work.
Made out of solid walnut, Therevox’s design is custom woodwork that Beauchamp designed.
“They’re finished with tung oil and that’s one of the very labour intensive parts of it. Generally, I’m doing woodworking for about a month straight for each batch of instruments,” he said, adding that the finish process takes a couple weeks since he has to put on multiple coats by hand.
Stopping short of calling himself an inventor, Beauchamp always read about inventors like Bell, Edison and Tesla, but he never considered himself among such company.
“I’ve always liked inventors… but, no, you never think that you’re going to be an inventor,” he said. “Who really calls themselves an inventor now? It’s not really a career path that you see too many people going down.”
“I’m usually hesitant to call myself an inventor because I don’t have the wild hair and I’m not trying to build a time machine out of Delorean,” he joked.
Beauchamp’s market is global. His instruments are in the United States, France, Argentina, Puerta Rico and Norway to name a few. In Windsor he has sold two units; the first was to local Windsor musician Mark Calcott (Huladog), while the second was to the University of Windsor’s music department.
Notably, Montreal-based band Suuns has purchased a Therevox and used it on one of their albums which Beauchamps has heard played on CBC Radio 3.
“It’s been interesting to actually see where the sales go to, we don’t do marketing [and] our customers tend to find us,” said Beauchamp. “I don’t know how they’re finding out about me, but it’s awesome that they are. Marketing wise, I look at it as each time I finish a new instrument and it’s out there, it’s doing the marketing for me.”
Beauchamps is able to produce roughly 30 instruments a year and he offers three models: the ET-4.1, $1,475, the ET-4.2, $1,850, and the latest, the ET- 4.3, $2,125.
“I just want people to be able to afford it,” said Beauchamp referencing the pricing. “I don’t want it to be an instrument that only a few people can obtain … creativity doesn’t know rich or poor.”
For more information, visit therevox.com.
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.