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Selected parts for building electronic music instruments

Additional electronic music instrument parts can be found on our sister site

Analog Joysticks


Analog 2-Axis Joystick with Plastic Boot

Now this is more like it!  It costs more than the Parallax joystick below,

BUT-  It’s still under $20 – and – if you want to design or build an excellent instrument, you want to keep around for years and years:

This will let you hear nuances in your sound that reflect even the gentle movements of your playing .  Notice how it got a 5-star rating!

Some people are just control fiends!  They want this:

Four-Dimensional Joystick

This is a (drum roll) FOUR DIMENSIONAL JOYSTICK!  (each axis is a 5k potentiometer) My word!  What does that mean?  From their website:

  • 3rd axis is a twist knob.
  • 4th axis is a push button.

Granted this costs the most out of all the joysticks on this page and may be less common than two-dimensional joysticks, but for musical instruments, it’s really useful.
The Twist knob reminds me of turning a steering wheel on a car!

The 4th axis button reminds me of using a car horn!


 Parallax 2-D Analog Joystick

You can use these 2-dimensional and four-dimensional joysticks as analog controllers on electronic and DSP Music Instruments!  Connect them to your Arduino and it reads them like a pair of potentiometers.  They can become pitch benders, left/right balance controls, LFO modulators or many other creative possibilities!

This is the Parallax 2-D Analog Joystick, as used in the Zenotron and many other DIY Electronic Instuments.  It’s Arduino-compatible, of course, since it’s just two potentiometers and can also be used in any electronic circuit.

Be warned, however!  One reviewer said it has “dead zones” near the neutral position.  Therefore, for Electronic Music Instrument use, I wouldn’t recommend it for a precision element….

But then again:  if you go back  look at digital MIDI Synthesizer keyboards and synthesizers from the 1980s, many of them didn’t have precision pitch bend and expression wheels!  They worked well, but not as fine as a guitar or modular synthesizer control.

So if you want more precise control of your expression, consider the above joysticks instead.






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