Mellotron #GearThatMadeUs

Mellotron #GearThatMadeUs

24th February 2022

This unique instrument was developed in the early sixties in Birmingham. When pressed, the keys trigger a tape loop of either string, brass or wind instruments, each with a particular timbre.

The instrument became famous when The Beatles began experimenting with it in the mid-60s. John Lennon claimed to have owned the first Mellotron in the U.K. but used a hired model on I Am the Walrus, Flying, and Tomorrow Never Knows.

It was then played by Rod Argent of The Zombies on Odessey and Oracle, and by Jon Povey of The Pretty Things on S.F. Sorrow.


Arguably its most famous use is by Paul McCartney on Strawberry Fields Forever in late-1966.

Watch him demonstrate the Mellotron at his Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road concert on 28 July 2005.


Shortly after these 1967 successes, the model you see below was purchased. It remained in use until the Sale of The Century - a giant auction of analogue gear in 1980.


Today we house a M300 model, previously owned by Woolly Wolstenholme of Barclay James Harvest and featuring on their Abbey Road recordings between 1970 and 1972. This M300 was manufactured circa 1968 and features a pitch control which was later removed.

Simon Campbell, Abbey Road’s head of technical services explains:

“In July 2019 we received an email from a lady named Maxine Lu saying that her husband, Tom Doncourt, had very sadly passed away and that both Tom, an avid owner and player of the Mellotron, and Maxine would wish to donate their M300 to Abbey Road. We are truly honoured to be considered and in turn so grateful to receive such a beautiful instrument – lovingly refurbished by the team at Streetly Electronics – for current and future musicians to use and enjoy.”

#GearThatMadeUs #AbbeyRoad90 #Mellotron

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