Electro-Harmonix MEL9 Tape Replay Machine Review by Guitar Player
Tested by Michael Molenda
Ever since being captivated by the Mellotron on Beatles albums, I've driven my keyboard playing friends insane by relentlessly pleading with them to bring their Mellotron sound libraries to recording sessions. They may have breathed sighs of relief in 2015, when Electro-Harmonix released its C9 Organ Machine with a single--and frustratingly beguiling--Mello Flutes patch. But this only made me more fanatical, and I leveled my crazed requests at the EH crew: "Okay, When will you give me a 100-percent Mellotron pedal?" Of course, those crafty EH peeps already had the MEL9 ($221 street) in development, and, now, one of my foremost gear dreams is a reality.
While keyboards still get the lion's share of Mellotron-tape sounds on their devices--along with more parameter control--the MEL9 offers massive advantage to guitarists looking to not only evoke the Beatles era, but also add eerie and otherwordly timbres to their musical armory. The nine sounds--Orchestra, Cello, Strings, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Brass, Low Choir, High Choir--are lush, beautiful, and delightfully off-kilter, and you have dedicated controls for Effect Volume and Dry Volume, as well as Attack (for sensual swells or immediate gratification) and Sustain (release time). Those four control knobs are all I need to craft psychedelic textures, cinematic atmospheres, and spooky dreamscapes. If I bring in more of my guitar's dry sound, I can also produce riffs, licks, and solos with a hint of ear-catching "strangeness"-especially when the buffered-bypass MEL9 is partnered with a distortion, fuzz, or wah pedal. I've waited so long for this box 'o' sonic joy that I can hardly believe it's here. Pinch me.
Kudos: So wonderful that I cry a few jubilant tears every time I use it.
Originally printed in the October 2016 issue of Guitar Player. Reprinted with the permission of the publishers of Guitar Player. Copyright 2016 New Bay Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Guitar Player, 1111 Bayhill Dr., St. 440, San Bruno, CA 94066. T 650.238.0300. Subscribe at www.guitarplayer.com
Sound on Sound recently review the EHX MEL9 and wrote, "Electro-Harmonix’s MEL9 guitar effects pedal, which must qualify as their most ambitious model so far, produces a range of instantly recognizable Mellotron sounds," and "...what the EHX engineers have achieved here is quite extraordinary."
From the 2014 introduction of the revolutionary B9 Organ Machine to the recent launch of the astounding MEL9 Tape Replay Machine, Electro-Harmonix's series of award-winning, astonishingly accurate keyboard emulators transform your axe with finely tuned presets that emulate some of the most popular and classic tones ever recorded.
B9 Organ Machine
With 9 presets that were finely tuned to emulate the most legendary organs from the ‘60s and beyond, the B9 Organ Machine will transform your guitar or keyboard. Control the instrument’s signature percussive click and sweet modulation. Blend your dry signal to create lush layers. Enough tonewheel and combo organ inspiration to light your fire and cook up some green onions!
C9 Organ Machine
The C9 Organ Machine springboards off the revolutionary B9 to mine another rich vein of classic gold and provide players with nine more definitive organ and keyboard sounds. The C9 will transform your instrument into a convincing full body, electric organ or vintage electronic keyboard. For each preset chosen, it also provides precise control over important elements of that sound’s sonic fingerprint like percussive click, modulation, attack/sustain, drawbar setting or high frequency content. Blend your dry signal to create beautiful layers. Lovers of classic organ and keyboard rejoice!
KEY9 Electric Piano Machine
Expanding the powerful trilogy forged by the B9 and C9 Organ Machines, the new KEY9 emulates the world’s most coveted electric pianos and more. With 9 presets, you can transform your axe and lay down a cool “Riders on the Storm” style groove or some hot funk ala “What’d I Say!” Take it from Mike Matthews who says: “You’ll dig the way the KEY9 turns you into a Rhodes Scholar!”
MEL9 Tape Replay Machine
The polyphonic MEL9 uses the same extraordinary technology as the B9, C9 and KEY9 to transform your axe and resurrect the sound of vintage tape-based keyboards.
Anoushka Shankar began her musical training at age 9 with her father, sitar maestro, Ravi Shankar. Today, she is a renowned sitar player and composer in her own right. On a recent visit to New York City, Anoushka reached out to EHX Founder and President, Mike Matthews.
Well aware of EHX's sound shaping legacy, she wanted to work with an EHX45000 Multi-Track Looping Recorder and a MEL9 Tape Replay Machine. She was also anxious get her hands on a Ravish Sitar pedal, a product whose name pays homage to her father!
Here is Mike Matthews and Anoushka Shankar at City Winery, NY, NY. Mike is holding a MEL9 while Anoushka has a Ravish Sitar pedal.
Watch Mike Matthews introduce the ground-breaking Ravish Sitar pedal.
To learn more about Anoushka Shankar visit her website. Click to watch her perform "Lasya" from her new album Traces of You.
The new MEL9 Tape Replay Machine emulates vintage Mellotron® sounds and uses the same ground breaking technology that powers the award-winning B9 and C9 Organ Machines, plus the KEY9 Electric Piano Machine. Nine of the most famous sounds are included: Orchestra, Cello, Strings, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Brass, Low Choir and High Choir.
Watch as Bill Ruppert takes you on a tour of the MEL9 and re-creates some of the most iconic sounds of classic rock!
®Mellotron is a registered trademark of David Kean, M. Resch AB and Markus Resch
Our new EH Strings allow you to capture every nuance of your playing style with lightning fast playability. Made of a pure nickel wrap with a specially-selected stainless steel, these sweet-sounding round wounds are truly like no other strings you've played. Not only do they last longer and stay in tune longer, but we think they're the best sounding strings ever made. Available in 9s, 10s and 11s.