Elverum’s Chamberlin Rhythmate can be yours for just $9,500.
If you’ve ever wanted to own your own ultra-rare Chamberlin Rhythmate drum machine, you’re in luck: Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum is selling his for just $9,500 over at Reverb.
As Elverum explains on the product listing, the Rhythmate originally belonged to his great uncle, who gave it to him in 1999. It became a fixture of K Records’ Dub Narcotic Studio and ended up on records by Elverum himself (as The Microphones and Mount Eerie), The Blow and Mirah.
“For years we gave the machine the nickname “Karl Blau” (and it’s credited on Microphones albums that way, in quotes),” Elverum writes,” because my real human friend Karl was supposed to be the drummer for a show, opening for Stereolab in Vancouver, but had to bail at the last minute, so we used the Chamberlin and called it Karl Blau.”
The Chamberlin Rhythmate was created by US inventor Harry Chamberlin in the late 1940s and went through several iterations over the following decades. It was more like a very early sampler than the drum machines used today, creating backing rhythms with drum loops recorded onto tape.
Elverum’s Rhythmate is a Model 40, which dates from the 1960s. It’s estimated that only around 100 Rhythmates were ever produced. Elverum even offered it to Kanye West via Twitter.
Though Elverum says the Rhythmate is “the first drum machine ever made”, that’s not technically correct – Henry Cowell and Leon Theremin’s Rhythmicon from 1931 predates the Rhythmate by well over a decade.