FilmInstituteIntroducing the latest addition to the Abbey Road family - the Mellotron M300! Originally built circa 1968, the mellotron has been kindly donated to us by the family of the late Tom Doncourt and fully refurbished by the original manufacturers Streetly Electronics. Discover more about the rare instrument that once again finds itself at Abbey Road.
The Mellotron M300The M300 was developed from the original MKI/MKII models of the mellotron as a more affordable instrument, but still intended for home use or smaller performance spaces. It was the first mellotron not to have a built in speaker and the only mellotron to use quarter-inch tape stock.
The keyboard is divided into two parts: a lower octave for accompaniments and an upper octave for lead instruments. There is a total of six banks of accompaniment sounds and six banks of lead instrument sounds, which both have A or B sounds.Only around 50 were built before making way for the M400. The M400 is the most famous and the most widespread of the mellotron and was eventually the one that was on every stage by 1972.
The M300 No. 011The M300 No. 011, which we are now privileged to have at Abbey Road, was manufactured circa 1968 and is one of the earlier versions which included a pitch control that was removed in later models. It was originally owned by Woolly Wolstenholme, founding member of the quintessentially English pastoral rock band, Barclay James Harvest. They recorded their first three albums at Abbey Road between 1970 and 1972 which features this particular M300 heavily throughout.
Simon Campbell, Abbey Road’s Head of Technical Services explains: “In July 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.”
The M300 arrived replete with a bronze plaque dedication to Tom and a photo of Tom crossing the zebra crossing only a couple of years ago, both of which can be seen here.