Here is a little FAQ list about the Melloman I've been meaning to
publish for quite awhile:
Q) Where did you get the
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
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.
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
A) With a tape deck, blank tape, a couple of cables, and
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
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
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
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
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
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.