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M400 #1037

PINDERTRON / "Sharayah": Mellotron Mark II #134

Mellotron Mark II + Mellotron Mark I
Unrestored Mark II - Restored Mark I

Mellotron Mark II #134 was owned by Mike Pinder himself (of the Moody Blues, of course) until its sale in 1973 and was actively used by the new owner for another ten years.  From what I understand, it malfunctioned during cycling on stage in 1983.  It was put into storage.  Later it was purchased Frank Samagaio in 2003.

Frank arranged for Jerry to restore the unit mechanically and do some exterior work, but Jerry was instructed not to restore it too much, as Frank wanted to preserve the pedigree of a Mark II that had been gigged around for many years.  As you can see from the above photo, the cabinet and controls were intact on the Pindertron, but the veneer edging was damaged, and there were dings all over.  A good chunk of veneer was missing from the lower rear cross member.  The flowcoat was cracked (as is the norm).  So externally there was a fair bit of restoration to do, even if the intent was not to repair all the battle scars.

If you have a keen eye, look at the various pictures of Mark II Mellotrons in the Moody Blues CD box set.  You will notice one with a rear grille with large vertical slots.  This is the unit.  The slotted rear grille was still there, but although it looks beefy it was pretty flimsy, so Jerry re-created it using better material.

Inside, however, was a different story.


The original preamp had been removed and replaced by one rumored to be of Mike Pinder's own design, or at least one he had built to his specification.  This preamp is solid state (no tubes) and seems to have an EQ that doesn't allow the high end to shine---it's the Moody Blues sound.

Mike Pinder Mellotron Mark II Preamp
The Mike Pinder preamp
(click to enlarge the image)

bulletThe original power supply was replaced with one from an M300.  This M300 power supply remains in the unit.
bulletThe amps and speakers were gone (to cut down the weight).  The amp/speakers were not replaced; the preamp output remains coming from two XLR jacks (right hand and left hand keyboard) on the front right of the machine where the volume pedal used to be.
bulletThere was a series of ground wires all over the place.  Apparently they could never get this machine quieted down, and it was up to Jerry to figure out what was causing all the noise!
Pre-restoration look at the insides
bulletThe cycling fault happened on the left hand keyboard, and it damaged the first four tapes and the station pulse tape beyond repair.
What was up top
bulletMike Pinder was known for spilling beverages into his machines, and this is no exception.  A lot of sanding was needed inside the cabinet to bring it back.
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bulletThe cabinet had been beefed up a bit over the years, and Jerry did some tightening and fixing there.

I missed by one day being able to see #134 as it arrived at Jerry's house.  I had been there in October on my way back from Toronto to retrieve #1037, but I couldn't stay the extra day.  Darn!

So the machine was a sight, and Jerry had his work cut out for him:

bulletMechanical restoration, including repairing the cycling (which meant troubleshooting the SSCUs) and cleaning up all the fiddly bits inside
bulletElectrical restoration:  rework the preamp and discover the cause of the noise that nobody had been able to get rid of since the machine left the factory
bulletPhysical restoration:  Veneer, tightening up the cabinet, applying flowcoat, and building a new back piece to replace the one that was there

Jerry performed the restoration chores throughout the fall and winter (October 2003-March 2004).  During the process he took copious video to document what went on, and it's interesting viewing (for 'tron enthusiasts anyway).  He also has a ton of pictures, some of which he contributed here.

Continue to Restoration...