For many musicians, nothing compares to crafting sound by hand on the old analog machines

He debuted in 1963 with its two keyboards, the instrument looked a lot like an organ, but on the Mellotron they were side by side — the keys on the left gave you rhythms and backing tracks, while keys on the right called up woodwinds, strings and other instruments.

The people who invented it wanted this to be for home use only, so they didn’t care too much about high fidelity. The fidelity was so low, and you had this wobble in the sound. So when you pressed the key, the tape of that one note started to play. Towards the end, you’d hear a bit of a flutter, an out of tuneness. Musicians soon figured out how to turn these quirks into art. The Beatles used the Mellotron on “Strawberry Fields Forever” and The Moody Blues used it on several songs, including “Tuesday Afternoon.”

The keys often get stuck, the tapes inside stretch and wear out, leaving behind pop and dropouts. It’s all just kind of rickety.

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