Box ‘O’ Sonic Joy

Posted 9/1/2016

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.
Concerns: None

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

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