Check out this DIY mellotron made from 14 Walkmans


Before USB keyboards and Ableton, before MPCs and synthesisers, there was the mellotron, and it was awesome. Using sounds recorded onto strips of tape, all rigged up inside a keyboard, it was a portable way that a keyboard player could call on the sound of strings, trumpets, or whatever had been sampled on the tape. In a similar (albeit analogue) way to a sampler, you'd push a key and get a sound. Unlike a synthesiser, the appeal was in the fact that the sound was a reproduction of the original, rather than an attempted recreation. It was the "must have" instrument of the 1960s and you'll hear it on stuff like the Genesis track Dancing With the Moonlit Knight.



Of course these days there's a ton of music software enabling bands to have the same functionality through a computer. But can you really beat the real thing? Nah. Mike Walters of Mystery Circuits makes unusual custom electronic instruments, many from modified toys or other items, and one of his creations was the glorious "Melloman", constructed from 14 Walkmen.

His work caught the eye of new folk maestro Bon Iver, who commissioned a custom version for himself. Check out the video below to see what he's in for. It uses a combination of sampled human voice and a synth sample to achieve an interesting blend. Look forward to hearing this ghostly tone show up a record down the track.




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