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:
How do Mellotrons work? I'd best leave that to Norm Leete's Mellotron Page.
Mellotron M400 #805
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:
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...
Well, it's a Mellotron, in'it? :-)