The Chamberlin Music Master
Created by Harry Chamberlin in the late 40s, the Chamberlin series of musical instruments were hand-built, utilitarian units that served as the template for the Mellotron. There are many similarities between the Chamberlins below and the first Mellotron, but there were also many improvements made on the Mellotron. In general Harry's instruments sound great but had station cycling mechanisms that aren't as robust as the Mellotron's. Harry's machines are wired hot all the way around, so they are a shock hazard inside, unfortunately.
Many Chamberlin owners today love the sound of their machines but keep their hands away from the metal bits on the inside when the machine is on. They also cycle the machines by hand, as the series of electrical contacts and relays that control the cycling mechanism has never been reliable.
You will see the Chamberlin M1 around, though. It's the 8-track table top version of the Chamberlin. It is very compact, portable, and great sounding. It still gets a fair bit of use in recordings and videos.
Chamberlin Music Master 300
Chamberlin Music Master 600
This gorgeous Chamberlin Music Master went up for auction on EBay in July 2001. It's perhaps the best-preserved example around.
One of the long-standing Mellotron stories was about Bill Fransen bringing two Chamberlin Music Masters over to the UK to perhaps make a deal between Harry and Streetly Electronics. Harry never heard anything, but shortly thereafter Streetly introduced the Mellotron Mark II. Hmmmmm...It leaves you scratching your head, doesn't it?
Let's see now...
Am I describing a Mark II...or the Chamberlin? YOU decide.
Ahh, but this is Mellotron folklore, isn't it? I hope that Frank Samagaio's book sorts this all out!