The Mellotron is an electro-mechanical musical instrument developed in Birmingham, England in 1963. It takes more than heavy cues from the Chamberlin, a similar instrument developed and patented by Wisconsin inventor Harry Chamberlin from 1949 to 1956. Chamberlin's concept was copied and rebranded by his former salesman Bill Franson and marketed as a new instrument in England. The Mellotron evolved from the Chamberlin but could be mass-produced more efficiently.
Both Chamberlin and Mellotron use tape as the source of sound. Recordings of orchestral instruments, both solo and ensemble, togehter with rhythmic loops aimed the instrument for the home-market. However, the Mellotron's claim to fame came through pop and rock bands using it on both records and stage. The Mellotron was an important part of the sound of bands like The Moody Blues, King Crimson, Genesis and Tangerine Dream.
Mellotron/Chamberlin are in fact samplers, and to make a digital version really makes sense. Markus Resch in Sweden makes a digital Mellotron/Chamberlin keyboard range.
Depicted above is the analog tape based Mellotron MKII and the digital Mellotron M4000D. Both instruments are rendered in Lightwave 3D. The source files for the MKII analog model are available for purchase from Turbosquid:
The source files for the M4000D are available as a free download from the button below: