GForce unearths another fabulously ancient machine and captures the tape banks of the dual-manual Chamberlin Musicmaster and Mellotron MkI and MkII.
It feels like we’ve been here before with the M-Tron Pro but no, this is a distinctly different product. The M-Tron Pro is certainly what I imagine when talking about a Mellotron with the creamy look and minimal controls of the M400 whereas the M-Tron MkII has a whole other thing going on.
The M-Tron MkII is based on the dual manual concept of the extremely rare Mellotron MkII where you have two keyboards. The left keyboard plays the tapes of rhythms and accompaniments while the right keyboard plays lead sounds. The tapes are taken from the Chamberlin Musicmaster and the Mellotron Mk1 & MkII with a special emphasis on the accompaniments which capture a moment of time between the 1950s and 1960s.
If you’ve not come across this idea before then these machines used recordings of real instruments and bands that were transferred to tapes that would run in response to key presses. It’s like an electromechanical version of sampling and has given us some very distinct sounds and character that nothing else has managed to emulate.
On the original MkII behind each key was 40 feet of tape. The tapes could be moved with a button press to spool in 6 different “Stations” for different styles. That idea has been retained on the M-Tron MkII but with the magic of virtual emulations, you can now mix and match stations and even layer them up in dual mode.
To play both keyboards are once in the original way it was intended you’ll need an 88-note keyboard. But if you don’t have one then don’t worry because they’ve added in ways around it so you can play it with a smaller keyboard or even two keyboards.
All the sounds come from the MkI, MkII and Chamberlin Tape Archive curated by Martin Smith and include 132 banks (although the video says over 200), 4500 individual samples and GForce has created 150 patches for us to play with.
I must say that those rhythm tapes are insanely good! It’s a very different playing experience to the M-Tron Pro, you have to embrace the dual keyboard thing because it’s immensely good fun.
I’m pleased to say it’s available on both macOS and Windows, for an introductory price of £199.99 excluding VAT
- Melloton MkII: Gforce