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Chamberlin M1

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    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.
    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).
    Manuals & Documents
    Used Price: $10,000 - convert
    YouTube Videos
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