Jump to content

Chamberlin M1

   (0 reviews)

The Chamberlin is an electro-mechanical keyboard instrument that was a precursor to the Mellotron. It was developed and patented by Wisconsin inventor Harry Chamberlin from 1949 to 1956 when the first model was introduced. Various models and versions of these Chamberlin instruments exist as well as early drum machine models that were produced and sold.

The basic Chamberlin has a piano style keyboard. Under each key, there is an individual tape playing mechanism with prerecorded sounds of various instruments and special effects on a short tape that was usually 8 seconds long.When a key is depressed a pressure pad pushes the tape on to a tape head with a pinch roller that pulls the tape on to a roller mechanism and the sound heard through audio output into an amplified speaker. When the key is released the sound stops and the tape rewinds on a roller mechanism like on the M1 model. Older units had metal spring rods for the tape return.

The M Series Chamberlins emerged in the late 1960's and in 1970 the M1 was introduced with a high-quality roller system and are known for their greater bandwidth in their playback heads. Harry Chamberlin used Neumann U47 microphones to record the tapes without very much compression so as to offer the best possible realistic sound such as a flute or string quartets. the units were never meant to be moved around and their earliest models had no chassis which made mobility without misalignment impossible.

It is important to note that Chamberlin never sold his instruments outside the US and Canada and is useful for determining the difference between a Chamberlin and a Mellotron on record.

Technical Specifications
Type: Analog
Synthesis: Tape Loops
Oscillators: 1
Polyphony & Tuning
Polyphony: 2
Patches RAM: 1
Case: Keyboard
Case Details: Solid wood
Audio Output Connections: 1/4" Phone Jack, Mono Out
Audio Output Notes: 2
Year Released: 1970
Year Discontinued: 1981
Units Made: 100+
Used By
XTC, Todd Rundgren, Three Dog Night, The Beach Boys
Design Notes:

Henry Chamberin designer. The Chamberlin instruments were never distributed for sale outside North America (USA / Canada markets).
Used Price: $10,000 - convert

  Report Synthesizer

User Feedback

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.


  • Create New...