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Mellotron M400
The Song Remains The Same filming, ca. August 1974, Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, London, England
General Specs
Keys: 35
Voices: Recorded on 3/8" tapes, most common voices were Flute, Violins and Cello
Amplification: None, unbalanced line output via 2 circuit jack
Controls: On/Off Rotary lighted switch, Volume, Tone, Pitch, 3-way Voice switch
Retail Price: $1300 US
Quantity Manufactured: Approx. 2000
Dimensions: 33-7/8"W x 33-7/8"H x 22"D
Weight: 121 lbs.
Serial Number: 216
Years Used: 1972-1975
Website: http://www.mellotron.com/ 
After the imposing and very heavy Mark II, the lighter but still voluminous M300, the M400 was the first Mellotron whose size and weight allowed it to be carried easily.

The M400 used 3/8" tapes and had one single 35 note keyboard (G to F). It didn't have a rhythm or an accompaniment section anymore, but only solo sounds.

The first M400s had a CMC-10 control card. This card needed a warm up period before the Mellotron could be used to its full effect. Moreover, 6 or 7 notes played at once made the motor slow down, which caused a drop in tuning. For the live concerts, Led Zeppelin used the Mellotron for the flute intro of Stairway to Heaven, and the string of The Rain Song and Kashmir. John Paul Jones explained, "To walk up to the Mellotron, not knowing if it was going to be in tune or what it was going to do, was a terrifying experience!"

M400 Mellotrons had a cabinet made of white polished wood.

The way the M400 worked was much simpler than on previous models : the banks with multiple sounds that could be found on Mark II and M300 had been given up and replaced by a removable 35 tape frame. No more rewind between each bank change - which was a delicate operation for the tapes. A frame was the equivalent of a bank with 3 sounds ; thus, to change a bank, you only had to replace the frame by another frame. Each additional frame was supplied with a flightcase.

Thanks to this removable frame system, a wider range of sounds was available. When you ordered an additional frame, you only had to choose your 3 sounds among those that were available. With the M400, new sounds appeared. The choirs, which have now acquired a mythical status, are one of those new sounds.

Jimmy Page allegedly purchased a M400 in the mid-1990s and it provides the intro to the track Shining In The Light, performed by Timothy Whelan of Transglobal Underground.

Photos

Mellotron M400
Led Zeppelin, October 09, 1972, Osaka Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan
Mellotron M400
Led Zeppelin, February 01, 1975, Pittsburgh Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mellotron M400
Led Zeppelin, March 17, 1975, Seattle Center COliseum, Seattle, Washington
Mellotron M400
   
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

October xx, 1968 - Led Zeppelin is recorded
October 19, 1968 - Final performance as the New Yardbirds
October 31, 1969 - Led Zeppelin II is released in the US
October 17, 1969 - Bonham is thrilled to play Carnegie Hall where Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa have performed
October 23, 1970 - Led Zeppelin III is released in the US
October xx, 1970 - The press lash out at the band over the Led Zeppelin III acoustic content
October xx, 1971 - Page and Plant venture around Thailand and India after the Japan tour
October 18, 1972 - Zeppelin rehearse at the Rainbow Theater for a UK tour
October xx, 1973 - Each member performs an individual film sequence for their concept film
October 31, 1974 - Swan Song hosts a party for the launch of its UK division
October xx, 1975 - Led Zeppelin decide not to tour and concentrate on recording new material
October 20, 1976 - The Song Remains The Same premieres at New York’s Cinema One
October xx, 1977 - Jimmy starts assembling a Led Zeppelin live album from recordings as far back as 1969
October xx, 1978 - Jones and Bonham record with Paul McCartney at Abbey Road Studios
October xx, 1978 - Rehearsals for In Through The Out Door in London
October xx, 1979 - All nine Led Zeppelin albums enter the Billboards Top 200 -- no other band has ever achieved this
October 10, 1980 - A private funeral is held for John Bonham at Rushock church in Worcestershire
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