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Odds & Ends
VT Tour


Mark I #124 was in most capable hands when Mellotron Professor Jerry Korb decided to take on the restoration project.  It is rumored that #124 spent much of its life on a boat, and Jerry did find evidence of that.  On either side of the cabinet are screw holes, meaning the machine was likely tied to something--necessary on a boat.  Also the bottom of the cabinet had water damage and there were salt crystals throughout.  So it would seem that, yep, this was the seaworthy 'tron.

Jerry restored the bulk of the cabinet, including somehow getting around the stubborn flow coat finish.  He also replaced the mahogany veneer bands along each edge.  Notice that the bands run horizontally, easier to bend but easier to split.  No problem, Jerry's got that down.

Of course all the innards are fully restored, including an original Mark I power pack, original style back cloth and speaker grille cloth (still available from the original supplier), old Wharfedales, and original preamp.

About the only updates were to the amps (Jerry's design/build) and the reverb section (Accutronics, as in the Mark II and Hammonds).

And it has original Mark II tape sets, with all their quirkiness!


This was a complete restoration: cabinet; electronics; machanicals.  Basically every nut and bolt was removed, polished, and reinstalled, along with every other part.  In Frank Samagaio's The Mellotron Book there is a picture of Julia's frame being lifted out of the cabinet on an engine hoist.

SSCU - Station Select Control Unit


This is the original VFO speed control from King Crimson's "Crimson King" Mellotron (Mark II #113), authenticity verified.  It has found its way into Julia and takes a little while to warm up, but it works nicely, including being able to produce the lovely pitch swoops as used by Mike Pinder in tracks like "The Voyage".


LEFT:  The right hand side station changing mechanism.  On the left you can easily see the Meccano chain.  Moving to the right is the pulse tape, on which you can see labeled the pulse mark for Station 1.  At the bottom of the photo is the tape drum, and up top is the right-hand (lead) track selector.  The tan things with the screws are the keys.

Station selection works with the pulse tape and the apparatus in the below photo.  When you select a station, the tape drums turn quickly as the arm below wipes over to the next copper dot.  Then the tape drum mechanism creeps until the tape pulse mark is reached.

Astonishingly, Jerry has Julia tuned to where station changing takes but a few seconds.  On Station 1 there isn't even any creeping, as the pulse tape mark is right there at the same time the wiper assembly hits the copper dot for Station 1.

Signs of a Mellotron Mark I

Jerry has the only Mark I in the United States.  This machine was never refitted with Mark II enhancements, unlike all but about two or three of the original Mark I machines.  One of the differences is the bar that prevents you from pressing down any keyboard keys while the tapes are cycling between stations. 

The Mark II also lost the Meccano chain in favor of a heavier chain.  However Jerry was able to find a suitable Meccano replacement that is far stronger than the original chain and not prone to twisting and breaking.  Julia cycles flawlessly!

Jerry tells how he was able to obtain the more reliable Meccano chain:

The Meccano Collector's Club/Organization provided me with the contact info to order this newer, stronger chain.  They also recently wrote a lengthy article about Meccano/Mellotron in their recent newsletter.  Special thanks to Mr. Lou Boselli of Cornwall-On-Hudson, NY, without whom the entire Julia project would not have been completed.  Lou had the chain made to his specifications.


Julia plays like a Mark II, which blows away almost any M400 on the planet (there is one that I played somewhere that approaches the Mark II---I forget which M400 that is, but others agreed there was something about that particular machine).  The Mark I/II series Mellotrons are quite easy to play, and they are not plagued by wobblies or pressure pad dropouts as much as the M400s.  Why?  The M400 keyboards contain all the parts, where in the Mark I/II the keyboards basically contain the keys and pinch rollers.  All other items are securely tied into the machine.  Somehow this design proves to be more reliable when it comes time to play the Mark I/II Mellotrons.


Professor Korb plays the MK6 and Julia.

Microsoft Windows Media clip, 986KB download


During our stay at the Korb 'Tron Ranch in March, Julia had buzzing in one of the speakers.  Jerry has since corrected this, and all that remains is a slight 60Hz hum and a bit of rumble, considerably quieter than before and most usable now.  In addition what we thought to be a problem with the volume pedal causing the right speaker to cut in and out turned out to be a wonky speaker wire, which Jerry has fixed.

Views of the power pack, amplifiers, and speakers

Behind the volume and reverb controls
on the front panel

Mark I/II volume control...
made possible by Meccano

Julia's preamp...

...was given the same treatment as everything else.  This is a tube (or valve) preamp (those knobby things poking out from the lid), original to the machine.  Jerry gave the preamp a new coating of Hammerite, the original paint used (and still available).  Hammerite, a tough, durable, and waterproof paint, was used to paint all kinds of stuff for the British Navy.  It was used to paint most electronic assemblies on all Mellotrons, Mark I through the Mark V.

Julia's original reverb unit was nothing more than Mellotron tape springs and phono cartridges---I kid you not!

This unit has been replaced with Accutronics 6-spring reverbs, the good stuff.  Additionally the reverb driver has been rebuilt.  The reverb tank is in its original location at the very bottom of the cabinet in its own compartment hidden away.

New reverb driver.  Notice the use of the original hardware connecting the audio cables.


The original speaker grille cloth and back cover cloth is available, and jerry replaced these as well.

Removable rear hatch, covered in cloth from the original manufacturer

Julia:  Mellotron Mark I Serial Number 124