Yes, we have a Mellotron. You should probably get one too. Perhaps this one, as it is for sale. :) Of course then we wouldn't have one, but a creature this rare deserves to get out there and sing, and more importantly, get to work. No digital creation can match this all analog beast. It is in excellent condition as been fully gone over. The original heavy-duty dust cover is included as is an extra reel of sounds.
In 1970, the model M400 was released, which contained 35 notes (G–F) and a removable tape frame. It sold over 1,800 units. By the early 1970s, hundreds of the instruments were assembled and sold by EMI under exclusive licence. Following a financial and trademark dispute through a U.S. distribution agreement, the Mellotron name was acquired by American-based Sound Sales. Streetly-manufactured instruments after 1976 were sold under the name Novatron. That would make this unit pre-1976.
The M400 is the most famous and the most widespread of the Mellotrons.
The M400 used 3/8" tapes and had one single 35 note keyboard (G to F). It didn't have a rhythm or an accompaniment section anymore, but only solo sounds.
The controls were quite simple : Volume, Tone , Pitch Control, an On / Off switch, and a track selector. An input for a volume pedal was available in the front of the instrument. At the rear, it had a unbalanced 1/4 inch audio output, and on the most recent models (from 1973 / 1974), an balanced XLR output.
The way the M400 worked was much simpler than on previous models : the banks with multiple sounds that could be found on Mark II and M300 had been given up and replaced by a removable 35 tape frame. No more rewind between each bank change - which was a delicate operation for the tapes. A frame was the equivalent of a bank with 3 sounds ; thus, to change a bank, you only had to replace the frame by another frame. Each additional frame was supplied with a flightcase.
Thanks to this removable frame system, a wider range of sounds was available. When you ordered an additional frame, you only had to choose your 3 sounds among those that were available. With the M400, new sounds appeared. The choirs, which have now acquired a mythical status, are one of those new sounds.
You could also bring Mellotronics your own sounds, and they converted them to 3/8" format ; this way, you had a personalized sound frame. Steve Hackett recorded his own voice, Paul McCartney recorded bagpipes from the Mull island, as well as various sound effects.
A conversion kit, including tape guides in standard 1/4" format, was (and still is) available. With this kit, you could record your tapes with a standard 2 track tape recorder, and use them with your Mellotron afterwards.
Each Mellotron was supplied with a volume pedal and a transport cover : the Protecta Muff.