Whether you’re a certified gear nut or just someone who enjoys the trippyness of an instruments sounding like completely different instruments (read: everybody with a soul), the Electro Harmonix Mel9 Tape Replay Machine is likely going to blow your mind.
MIDI technology has made trickery like this possible for quite a while, but to pull off any decent instrument emulation on guitar, players usually need an instrument fitted with special pickups and expensive rack-mount units (or a Gizmotron). Electro Harmonix (a.k.a. EHX) has been producing some impressive examples of conventional effects pedals that allow this sorcery while offering a simple plug and play solution. Their B9 and C9 Organ Machine pedals convincingly ape popular organ sounds, while the K9 pedal blew everyone away with its ability to reproduce the sound of an electric piano.
However, it’s the new Mel9 Tape Replay pedal that has people wondering if the EHX team has Harry Potter hidden aways somewhere, because this thing is nuts. Watch it in action below:
The ‘Mel’ in Mel9 refers to the Mellotron, an electro-mechanical keyboard that works by playing pre-recorded sounds stored on magnetic tape. You’ve definitely heard it before, even if you weren’t aware at the time. The Beatles used the instrument quite a bit, most notably on “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The Moody Blues keyboardist Mike Pinder kept it 100 like the Frank’s Red Hot grandma and put that shit on everything, while prog rock giants King Crimson were fans of the instrument as well.
The Mellotron’s popularity waned in the ’80s, but there was a resurgence in the ’90s and it popped up on more modern tracks including a number of Smashing Pumpkins tunes and Oasis’s “Wonderwall” (surprise – that cello ain’t a cello).
The ability to now reproduce the very particular sound of the Mellotron is undoubtedly going to go over well with cover/tribute bands and weirdo guitarist everywhere, offering some of the real instruments’ most popular sounds including Orchestra, Cello, Strings, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Brass, Low Choir, and High Choir. If you have the US $200+ the Mel9 is likely to command, it’ll be worth it just for the shits and giggles.