Melloman FAQs

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Here is a little FAQ list about the Melloman I've been meaning to publish for quite awhile:

Q) Where did you get the name "Melloman"?
A) "Melloman" is a portmanteau of "Mellotron" and "Walkman"

Q) Do you say "Walkmans" or "Walkmen"?
A) I say "Walkmans" for some reason.

Q) Can I order a Melloman, and how much will it cost?
A) I don't have plans to build anymore Mellomen. If you want
    to build your own version, I'll be glad to answer questions.

Q) Can I rent/borrow the Melloman for a recording session?
A) If you're local to Chapel Hill NC, and we're friends, yeah we can work something out.
    I won't ship it though.

Q) Do you have to rewind the tapes?
A) Yes, on the first Melloman, the tapes have to be rewound after the side of the tape ends.
    On the New Melloman, the tapes auto-reverse

Q) Why not use looping cassettes?
A) I tried some 3 minute looping tapes on the original Melloman,
    but there were issues with separating tracks (which is vital for octaves) and fidelity.
    So I gave up on that. Not to say it can't be done, I just never did.

Q) What happened to the iPhone Melloman?
A) Good question. There were plans in the works for this app in 2011. The
    project wasn't my idea, but I thought it sounded cool, and seemed legit. I recorded
    samples for the project, did my part, but never heard from the developer again. Oh well.

Q) How did you get the digital sound samples from your computer onto an analog cassette?
A) With a tape deck, blank tape, a couple of cables, and electricity.

Q) Can I make my own tapes? How are they formatted?
A) Yes. Each tape has a looped sample of two octaves. left channel is the low octave, right
    channel is the high octave.

Q) Why use cassette Walkmans? Why not use MP3 players? It would sound much better.
A) Why not just buy a sampler? (and MP3 players don't sound better, everyone knows that)

Q) Can you make a Melloman with microcassettes?
A) Yes, but you would need stereo players, otherwise you would need a different player
    for each note. I think most microcassette player/recorders are mono for dictating. There
    are exceptions though.

Q) Why does it have to be in stereo?
A) The signal isn't actually in stereo, just the tapes use left and right tracks independently for
    two octaves. That way you can use half of the number of Walkmans. There are a lot of
    cheaper portable tape players that record, but those are usually mono, and don't rewind!

Q) I have various brands and models of tape players. Can I mix them up to build a Melloman?
A) Yes, but it won't be as elegant. The main issue would be power. Some players use 1.5v, some 3v, 4.5, etc.
    Make sure to power them appropriately. Also, they might sound different from each other. But yes, it can be done.

Q) Some of the tape players I have are out of tune. Can this be fixed?
A) There should be speed adjustments either as a trim pot on the circuit board, or could be tuned on the capstan motor itself.
    See if the motor housing has a small hole on the back. That's usually where the motor is tuned.

Q) I'd like a real Mellotron to use live, but I don't want to spend that kind of money. Would
    the Melloman offer a viable, economical alternative?
A) Yes, and no. Yes, a Melloman could be built for less money than buying a real Mellotron.
    However, if it's just the "Mellotron sound" you're going for live to save money, I'd suggest
    using a sampler or Mellotron emulator. These days, that's a lot cheaper than buying all those
    Walkmans, etc. The Melloman was never intended to be a practical alternative to the Mellotron.

Q) Has the Melloman appeared on any records?
A) Yes, the Melloman has been on a few North Carolina records since 2005. Not many though.
    Here are some:
    Tara Busch - Girl on Fire, Audubon Park - Teenage Horses, Dex Romweber and the New Romans - Night Tide
    Violet Vector and the Lovely Lovelies - EPII, Mark Lewis, and Taeioualert.
    Between the years 2007 and 2011, the Melloman was stored under the guest bed at my mother-in-law's house
    while Ruth and I lived in NYC. However, my pal Alex borrowed it briefly during that time for the Violet Vector recordings.

Contact me at mike at if you have more questions!