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Thread: Talk Box secrets

  1. #1
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    Talk Box secrets

    I wondered if anybody can give me an answer to this one.
    I have and old Dean Markley Voice box 100A in good working condition but it seems to distort easely.
    When looking inside i found two light bulbs which Dean himself confirmed, thanks Dean.
    I see some companies say they use a 15uf or 33uf cap to protect the midrange driver from low frequencies. When opening a Heil Talk Box all i found was a light bulb, but they state only using a 15uf cap! ? So, is it the bulb working as a cap that protects the driver from low frequencies? or does driver actually recieve low frequencies but for some reason does'nt blow?
    On the web i found photo,s of Talk Boxes with two light bulbs and a cap which seems more correct to me.
    BUT! when using a cap does the amplifier still thinks it on an eight ohms load?
    or does the cap hide the load causing problems for the amplifier???
    Hope someone out there knows the answer.
    Cheers.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I have no idea. But if I am allowed a guess, I would say the cap acts as the crossover for the horn driver, while the light bulbs act as a load for the amp. That could be completely wrong, though.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  3. #3
    Senior Member e_c_mccollum's Avatar
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    Older crossovers, peaveys especially, have light bulbs wired in series with the horn driver for surge protection. The caps do act as a crossover for the driver.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Regis's Avatar
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    I have no answers, but am interested in this as well. I knew several guys back in the seventies that had those heil talk boxes, running them with marshals flat out and never had problem. How did they do it?

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    Yes i agree, the two light bulbs are wired in series giving a "nearley" 1ohm load, maby this is enough to keep the amp happy.
    Keep your answers coming guys.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by superchet View Post
    Yes i agree, the two light bulbs are wired in series giving a "nearley" 1ohm load, maby this is enough to keep the amp happy.
    Keep your answers coming guys.
    Huh?

    If the driver is 8 Ohms and is in series with the bulbs, you'd see more than 8 Ohms. Anyhoo.. Lightbulbs in series with the driver would act as a limiter. As input power goes up, at a certain point the bulbs would start to heat up and incandesce. This makes their filament resistance rise as well. Basically, it is speaker protection. IIRC the old Heil had no caps, just wired right to the driver. In my experience, 10 to 30 watts is plenty of power to drive a talkbox and I've used any little available practice amp with a speaker out jack and use an A/B switch to switch signal between the two amps.

  7. #7
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    Yes i think i will get a smaller amp to run the Talk Box.
    A guitar playing plumber friend said one of the reason for not blowing the driver could be the load and air resistance the tube puts on the driver. Could make sense.
    Cheers.

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    Maybe off topic, back when the "talking guitar" was first fashionable, our guitar player at the time, had the tinsmiths at the plumbing shop build something that looked like a short, wooly, funnel. The large side covered the speaker opening, and the output was a fitting for surgical tubing, it worked!
    I later built him a box from an AT&T paging horn, and a crossover from a PA column. Seems I used a large 10 ohm resistor in place of the low driver in the crossover.

  9. #9
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    I would adhere to the Dean Markley design over any other. It was a Dean Markley modified "Talk Box" that was used by Peter Frampton on the live album that started the Talk Box fad. I believe it was the money from an order for these "modified" Talk Boxes that Dean used to start his string company. Dean told me that he delivered that order in his old beat up El Camino. It was his entry into the guitar do dad world.

    Chuck

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    Has anyone looked inside thr Framptone Talk Box?
    I would love to know what components are used apart from the driver?
    Cheers,
    Superchet.

  11. #11
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    I would adhere to the Dean Markley design over any other. It was a Dean Markley modified "Talk Box" that was used by Peter Frampton on the live album that started the Talk Box fad. I believe it was the money from an order for these "modified" Talk Boxes that Dean used to start his string company. Dean told me that he delivered that order in his old beat up El Camino. It was his entry into the guitar do dad world.

    Chuck
    The actual unit Framton used was from HEIL Sound.

    There seems to be some confustion around that... for example Wikipedia says Dean Markley created the "Voice Box" used by Framton, but they also say HEIL gave the Talk Box to Framton as a gift.

    Talk box - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    So Bob Heil says Peter used his unit, and it's the one on disply in the Hall of Fame. I can't find any reference to show that Dean Markley made any for Frampton. At the time he had a music store, and was not a manufacturer.

    Interview with Bob Heil

    Dean Markley made the "Voice Box" in 1976. HEIL made the Talk Box in 1972. Framton Comes Alive was recorded in 1975, and Framton bought his from HEIL in 1973. Maybe Markley modded it, but I can't find a single reference of this.

    Compare the two:

    Markly's




    Framton's


    It's clearly not a Markley Voice Box.

    Later the Heil units looked like this:



    Bob Heil says:

    The first 50 were done in fiberglass, and Peter still carries his fiberglass one today. When you see him, somewhere in his gig box is that original Heil Talk Box. I have serial number 1 that will go in the Rock Hall with Peter and Joe's signatures.
    From Peter Frampton - Equipment

    THE TALKBOX - what the heck IS that?!!

    That weird 'talking guitar' sound you can hear on 'Show Me The Way' is produced by a gadget called the 'TalkBox', that Peter first came across in 1971 when he heard a pedal steel player using it on the sessions for George Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass'. Peter was so impressed that he found out where he could get one from - a company called HEIL Sound in California made and marketed them. Peter got his first one in 1974 and has been using one live since then!
    Clearly Markley had his own version, and made it sound like Framton, Wonder and Walsh used it, but they didn't. Walsh had a home made unit, and Framton and Wonder had HEIL units.

    Now Dunlop makes them:

    Dunlop - HEIL TALK BOX

    And before any of them was the Kustom Bag, used by Jeff Beck.
    Last edited by David Schwab; 10-23-2009 at 12:56 AM.
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  12. #12
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    Thank you for the in depth post David. However...

    I said it was a Dean Markley "modified" "Talk Box" NOT a Dean Markley Voice Box, or even a Dean Markley made unit. There would be no way know all the specifics of how that came about. But believe me when I say that I have my info on good authority.

    As far as any specific info from Frampton, well, I suppose any endorsements, relationships, $$$, etc. that Frampton and Heil both benefited from would have suffered at least a little if the info were public knowledge at the time. There have been many recordings made on modified gear that was later endorsed in it's stock incarnation. Nuff said about that.

    I don't doubt that the Voice Box is anything more than Dean taking advantage of the market when the iron was hot. That's just how he rolls.

    But thank you again for the informative post and links.

    Chuck

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