At 350 pounds (159 kg), the original Mellotron is not an easy instrument to acquire … or lift. But its 8-second tapes helped define a classic sound – Strawberry Fields, forever.

Sample house UVI have been doing a lot of nice work lately – including some real rarities like the prepared piano at Paris research center IRCAM. They’re giving away their multi-sampled Mello emulation.

It’s always tough to know how to best capture as a digital instrument something as idiosyncratic as the Mellotron; in this case, they’ve multi-sampled dozens of tapes on three different machines for the 28 sounds. It’s a massive 1.7 GB library.

It’s a lovely instrument. There are some caveats to getting it for free. You have to follow UVI on Twitter or Like them (via an app) on Facebook. And you need an iLok in order to use the authorization; it’s a shame they didn’t just do an unlocked build, but if you already have an iLok sitting in a hub, you won’t care much. The Facebook app is also reasonable benign; it didn’t post anything to my account when I just tried it. Update: Some people are unhappy sharing data with the Coupon app on Facebook. You can instead choose to log in with Twitter; that automatically follows their Twitter account, but nothing else.

Oh, and if you don’t own an iLok, you can get one sort of kind of for free. (You pay the full price, but get a US$78 voucher good toward UVI stuff):

If you do jump through the hoops, it’s an exceptional giveaway. Features:

Pristine and comprehensive sample library from 3 original machines
Mixable key and mechanical noise for authentic experience
Switchable keyboard range (original or extended)
Stereo modes including custom unison
Switchable multimode filter with cutoff and resonance
ADSR envelopes for amplitude and filter with velocity sensitivity
3-band EQ with sweepable mid frequency
Built-in SparkVerb
Analog-modeled tape delay

It runs on Mac and Windows (every plug-in format) via either the free UVI Workstation or MOTU’s MachFive 3.

And here’s what it sounds like:

Get it from UVI directly: