DIY Walkman Mellotron

In this video, via Tunnel HQ, Luke Randall gives a hands-on demo of his ‘Sony Mellotron‘ – an impressive DIY sample-playback keyboard that he created with 14 standard Walkman cassette players.

Each Walkman plays a stereo cassette tape, which plays back a tape that’s prepared with dual mono channels.

The keyboard can be used to play up to 28 notes, but Randall has loaded part of the keyboard with choral samples on specially prepared cassettes, and the others with standard cassettes to allow random sampling.

“I find it to be unpredictable, and that unpredictability….is what’s intriguing about it,” explains Randall. “It has an unlimited potential to generate random noises.”

8 thoughts on “DIY Walkman Mellotron

  1. Brilliant concept, and beautiful to look at, but how is the fact that it SOUNDS LIKE TOTAL SH*T not a problem?

    1. Hi Glitterballs, You are right the sound is terrible in this video… no dynamics at all, very strident. Unfortunately, I used a terrible, small solid state guitar amp when my son and I made this video. I now have made a proper PA for this device and it is sounding great. The Walkmans put out a pretty good signal, not audiophile quality, but decent. The amplifier section in this device is small and unrefined, however when it is plugged it into a tube preamp before it hits the PA, it sounds excellent. I will post another video of it playing again soon.

  2. I just performed with this mellotron last week end and it was great. The device is amazing and sounds great through a proper PA…It has taken me a while to learn how to play it better and I have been making new tape loops for it. It has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, in the video posted here I was using a terrible little guitar amp and the sound is bad, very trebly and strident. When plugged into a quality sound system it is very dynamic. It is not polyphonic so when you press a number of keys at the same time the sound diminishes. How ever it plays pretty well with 3-5 keys pressed at once. The switching circuit is made with Opti-couplers, photosensitive resistors, so it has a soft start and finish when the keys are pressed, very smooth. It just saw this listing and wanted to give an update. And yes, I used the Mike Walters (Mystery circuits) circuit and he helped me with this project the whole way through. I always give him credit anytime I present this device. I “branded” the device with the Sony logo because I am forever indebted to this company for what they have done for me over the course of my music listening career.

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