FX Console #6

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FX Console #6
FX #6 Unveiled-NOT!
FX #6 Unveiled
Improvised Waves



Mellotron FX Console #10006's new owner

Mellotron FX Console #10006 (the "Mooatron") arrived at Jimmy Moore's place in January 2002 - click here for the story, some sound samples, and several "before" pictures.  MONEYPIT had a visit with the Mooatron in July '04 as well.  Although the machine made sound, there were issues with the keyboard adjustment (caused by some weak parts of the frame that had sagged), there were cycling problems, and--let's face it--the gouge on the front was none too sexy.

"Before" picture of Mellotron FX Console #10006 Interior "Before"

Mellotron Professor Jerry Korb had a great base to start out with, though, and throughout 2004 and early 2005 Jerry disassembled, rebuilt, and restored the machine from the ground up.


Jerry provided the photos for this section.  He also documented the process on video (as he does with all of his work), and he'll be glad to show you that if you're ever by his way.

Jerry Korb uses a Genie Lift to hoist the frame out of Mellotron FX Console #10006

As when doing a frame-up restoration on a vintage automobile, one of the first steps is a complete disassembly.  Jerry makes use of the Genie Lift as needed for his Mellotron repairs, and this allows the easy removal of the mechanicals associated with the tape path--the basic frame of the machine--leaving behind the cabinet.  The frame is placed onto a special jig Jerry assembled for this purpose (which has now been used for three Mark I/II-series Mellotrons (as well as to hold up a table :-) ).

Winding out the FX Console's original effects tapes The tapes were removed and set aside.  Yes, these were original tapes in this machine, and they still sounded great for something nearly 40 years old.  Moooooooo!

Click on the image to the left to see the "paper towel roll" mechanism that Jerry uses to wind old tapes out of the machines.

Original Mellotron FX Console effects tapes wound up for storage

Jimmy's FX tapes were wound and labeled.  Unfortunately there were a few missing tapes.  No matter, as Jimmy had them replaced with new Streetly tapes anyway.


One of the interesting things about the FX Console is the track selection.  Each headblock is in two independent pieces, so it's possible to have four simultaneous sounds on the FX Console.  Unlike the Mark I/II but more like the M300, the FX Console's track selection is electronic.  Mellotron FX Console track selector mechanism  If you click on this image, you will see two trapezoids.  At rest you have Track B.  When Track A or C is selected, the solenoid deploys, rotating the trapezoid left or right, moving the head block.  This is a rare glimpse of an interesting way to tackle the track selection problem.

Diving into the electronics of the FX Console further, you will find a series of line amps and preamps.
Mellotron FX Console line amp and preamp
Where the Mark I/II had tubes/valves, the FX Console is more akin to the M400 with low impedance tape heads and solid state preamps.  In fact, the sound of the FX Console will bear that out---it's similar to the M400.  Further down the audio chain is the original audio amplifier, which drives a monitor speaker:
Mellotron FX Console monitor amplifier


Not only does the capstan and flywheel spin in the FX Console, the Mark I/II/FX/M300-series also has to deal with station selection.  Each tape in these machines is dozens of feet long (about 50 feet), and the drums on which the tapes are stored are turned at high speed (20 inches per second) back and forth to allow different stations (or banks of sounds) to be selected.  Position along the length of the tape is determined by a wiper that looks like a clock dial on the back of the machine and then a pulse tape that guides the station to the correct stopping point (the start of the sounds).  Working this magic are the SSCUs, which are often in a state of disrepair on older Mellotrons.  Jerry has been repairing these buggers for years.  Repairing the Mellotron FX Console's SSCUs

In addition to the motors that drive the capstan, these Mellotrons have additional motors to drive the tape drums, one motor per keyboard.
Testing the cycling motors in the Mellotron FX Console
Unfortunately one of Jimmy's cycling motors let out all the magic blue smoke, and it was not repairable.  Jerry had a motor in stock, and between the replacement motor and repaired SSCU was able to get the FX Console's station selection working again on both keyboards.

Pulling the tapes through the machines when you actually play the instrument is the job of the capstan motor.  There's only one in these machines, and the one that was in there was tired, so it was replaced with a brand new motor from Streetly.
New Mellotron motor from Streetly with modified bracket
Note the modification to the motor bracket to allow the station selection chain to clear more easily, which you can see in this picture Mellotron motor in place in the FX Console.  In addition to modifying the motor bracket, Jerry also beefed up the wood on which the motors are bolted.  This was always substandard from the Mellotron factory, so these are normally replaced when Mark I/II/FX/M300 machines are in for repair Creating a new side board for the Mellotron.

Before we leave the insides of the machine, have a look at the main frame resting on the jig.  You will note two complete tape paths, one for each keyboard.  The tape drums are clearly visible, as are the head blocks. Mellotron FX Console frame


Jerry refinished FX #6's cabinet. Aww, gee, the gouge on the front is all gone now. In addition to the wood repair and sanding, Jerry used a new technique to paint the box, called HVLP (high volume low pressure), an inexpensive alternative to paint methods you would find at, say, body shops. The original finish was a rather flat black, but the new finish is a semi-gloss. Jerry made exclusive use of "green" solvents and finishes for the SFX, keeping in step with Vermont's environmentally-friendly policies.

Let's see the cabinet refinishing as it went along.

Mellotron FX Console cabinet "before" "Before"

Mellotron FX Console cabinet during refinishing Sanded, with initial coat on the main body, lid sanded but not painted.

Mellotron FX Console cabinet refinished - reflections of CDs Nice.

Mellotron FX Console cabinet refinished with spiffitized grill cloth The rear cloth is original, only nice and clean now.


While needed Mooatron parts were underway from Streetly, Jerry revived an ancient art to test his skills at fine woodworking. Out of tribute to his father , Mr. Fred "Fritz" Korb (1908-1985), Jerry precisely duplicated the "Church In Winter" inlay in 2004.

Click to view

The elder Korb taught Jerry all his woodcrafting skills decades ago.  A shame he was unable to see the results of Jerry's Mellotron projects.  That on the left was made by the elder Mr. Korb in 1954 in NJ.  Jerry's inlay is covered with the same Flowcoat as in the Pindertron's top-cover .

For more info on this almost lost-art, type the word "Marquetry" on any search engine.


Is it time now for the Unveiling...well, maybe... -->