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Analog History

Mellotron is a legendary sample playback keyboard instrument that revolutionized the music industry.

In 1950 Harry Chamberlin invented a keyboard instrument based on sample playback from magnetic tape. For the first time in history this allowed both musicians and hobbyists alike the opportunity to have a live orchestra, a choir or a string ensemble at their fingertips. The invention was later brought to England by one of Harry’s former employees and was re-engineered under the brand Mellotron, with sales starting in 1964.

Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, artists such as The Beatles, David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, and many others adopted various models of keyboards that the Mellotron company were making. These sample playback instruments all had their unique sound, and were also sold in North America and became very successful during the 1970s.

The eighties arrived and with the rise of string synthesizers the instruments made by Mellotron, with their heavy furniture, went out of style and the UK company making the instruments went out of business in 1982.

Around 1985 an attempt was made by the US company that had acquired the Mellotron brand to develop a digital instrument, but this ground to a halt in 1988. In 1989, David Kean, who would later go on to found the Audities Foundation, purchased the bankrupt estate of Mellotron in the US and bought all remains of the associated UK companies. He resurrected the Mellotron brand while cultivating a network of enthusiast owners who needed parts and tapes. He was joined early-on by Markus Resch, a young engineer with a passion for Mellotron, and in 1990 the two began making tapes, spare parts, and building what would in 1999 become the Mark VI Mellotron - a newly manufactured, electronically and mechanically improved tape-replay instrument.


Since 2001, the Mellotron company is fully owned and operated by Markus Resch and now produces both analog and digital instruments as well as apps under the brand Mellotron. The mission of the company is the same as it always has been - to provide musicians and songwriters all over the world with the best tools for songwriting and performance.

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