M400 #805
Home MIDI Setup Alesis Andromeda ARP 2600 - Problem Child Hammond A-102 M400 #805 M400 #1037 'tronecdotes MG-1 Minimoog #6128 Repairs Synth Links ...kl...'s Web ToC

Go, Dog, Go!

Mellotron M400 #805

Musical instruments rarely capture the imagination of the record-buying public.  After all, they're after just the tunes, right?  Oh, guitars are cool.  Maybe drums.  They don't really grab attention, do they.


But Mellotrons, however...well, let's just say that more "what is that instrument" questions have been asked when someone hears a particular sound in an album than probably any other instrument.  And then when someone learns that the sound comes from a Mellotron, the next obvious question is, "A what?"

The Mellotron is essentially a rack of tape players in a single box, and the tapes are played whenever someone presses a keyboard key.  Recorded on each tape is a note corresponding to the key which is pressed.  The notes can come from a flute, violins, a trumpet, or whatever other set of tapes are in the Mellotron.

Mellotrons you've heard:

bullet"Strawberry Fields" by the Beatles.  The intro flute is a Mellotron.
bullet"Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues.  The violin sounds are from a Mellotron.
bullet"Daniel" by Elton John.  The flute is played on a Mellotron.



The "Mad Scientist" episode of "Monster House" (first aired April 2004) used Mark II rhythms and fills during the show and in the closing credits.  These sounds have been used in other episodes of that series.


How do Mellotrons work?  I'd best leave that to Norm Leete's Mellotron Page.

Mellotron M400 #805

#805 and some tape frames

M400 #805 was given its final testing on May 23, 1973.  At that point it was shipped from Les Bradley's hands to who knows where!  I purchased it from Kurt V. out in Olympia, Washington, in April '98, just in time for #805's 25th birthday.  He had two of them, and he needed some cash to buy a vintage Ludwig clear drum set, so one of the M400s had to go.

#805 is fairly stock, but it has had a few modifications:

bulletThe original CMC-10 motor controller has been replaced with an SMS-4 from Mellotron Archives.
bulletThe wire heading from the head block to the preamp failed (see the 'tronecdotes page), so it had to be replaced.
bulletThe neon power lamp now works:

Mellotron M400 #805 sees the light!

June 24, 2001

After who knows how many years with a broken bulb, #805 is now aglow.

All it took was an A1A (NE-2) neon lamp and a resistor, Radio Shack part number 272-1100.

Replacing the lamp is straightforward.  It is NOT part of the switch.  Instead its leads just run through the middle of the switch.  So if your switch is good, just get a new bulb and solder it in.

Plus I've ordered some extra frames and tape sets with a wide variety of sounds.

 New tape frames are being produced by both Mellotron Archives and Streetly.


Well, not much, really!  Just the usual adjusting.  I will also need to go in and clean and oil the motor soon, and that's about it.  I hope.


Poor #805 is cranky.  That's his personality.  If you listen to the song snippets from Michael Oliver's album, you'll hear how cranky #805 was on that particular day we recorded those tunes!  I had not adjusted the keyboard (#805 had only barely arrived in my possession), and it was miserably hot and humid.  So #805 wasn't too happy on that particular day.

#805 plays OK, but he still needs some work.  Some notes are more dull than others, so it could mean that an azimuth adjustment is needed or the pressure pad needs to be straightened out and adjusted.  For the "wobblies" I keep a screwdriver handy. 

Mellotrons are notorious for requiring a heavy hand, but it's more steady than heavy.  Chamberlins, on the other hand...


btt.gif (7887 bytes)




Well, it's a Mellotron, in'it?  :-)

Pop on over to my Tunes Page or the "Pop and Circumstances" page if you'd like to hear what #805 sounds like.