MellotronThe Mellotron was originally developed and built in Birmingham, England, in 1963. The original models were designed to be used in the home, and contained a variety of sounds, including automatic accompaniments! Adopted by the Moody Blues, Genesis and King Crimson, it became a notable instrument in progressive rock. Production of the Mellotron ceased in 1986.
|A diagram illustrating the internal operations of a Mellotron|
How it WorkedPressing a key (1), caused two screws (2) to connect a pressure pad (3) with the tape head (5), and the pinch wheel (4) with the continuously rotating capstan (6). Tape was pulled by the capstan at a gradual speed controlled by a tension spring (8–10) and stored temporarily in a storage bin (7) until the key was released.
- Noted cellist Reginald Kirby refused to downtune his cello to cover the lower range of the Mellotron, and so the bottom notes are actually performed on a double bass.
- Pressing a key harder allows the head to come into contact under greater pressure, so to an extent, the Mellotron responds to aftertouch.
- Among the early Mellotron owners were Princess Margaret, Peter Sellers, King Hussein of Jordan and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard!
- The Skellotron (2005) was a Mellotron in a transparent glass case. Only one was made!