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Thread: Kustom Electronics "The Bag" talkbox-vintage 1969

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    Kustom Electronics "The Bag" talkbox-vintage 1969

    Hello from Kansas City, Just wondering if there is another person on the planet who owns the extremely rare Kustom Electronics "The Bag" talkbox, vintage 1969 like the one I own? I will be posting a YouTube video soon which will be one-of-a-kind, if you are interested. This belongs in the Smithsonian. Thanks much, REVO

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    There was one in a booth at the Dallas Guitar Show.

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    I remember the ads for those things. What the deuce was the "bag" for? Acoustically isolating the unit, or just gimmick?

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    Kustom Electronics "The Bag", vintage 1969

    How ya doin'? Kustom Electronics "The Bag" talkbox/voice box, vintage 1969. Very rare. I still own it. If you are old enough to remember the 1960's, you will recall that many things involving art & music were done in bright colors and unexpected designs. Why not place the driver in a padded container with a tube that looked like you were smoking it since everything else was being smoked back then? It didn't affect the sound but attracted alot of attention when a musician strapped this on. Later floor units handled more wattage and were more practical over-all. Yet this is a very exotic device. If you haven't seen my YouTube video yet, here is what it sounds like. This was filmed as I actually recorded it into my 24 track : YouTube - Kustom Electronics "The Bag" Talkbox/Voice Bag, VINTAGE 1969 Thanks much, REVO

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    Not only did I have one, I had two. My first one, with dangly threads, got burned up when my bass player buddy tried it on his Kustom bass amp. My second one didn't have the dangly threads, but instead had some frilly edges on it. Think I threw it out a long time ago, but I was sure the grooviest cat on the block when I had it!

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    Hello Mooseboy from Revo in Kansas City! Wow! Owning one is rare enough & 2 is incredible! Only 100 were made. I can understand why a Bass through a Kustom amp would be certain death for the 40 watt driver in the Kustom Talkbox. Was definately an eye-catcher, esp. for policemen LOL. BTW, I ended up selling mine for $750.00, all original except for the tubing. Just needed some cosmetic TLC. Thanks for posting - Best, REVO

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    As a teenager I saw John Kay of Steppenwolf use one live. I went home and built one myself. I had a purple velvet sack and put a 35 watt full range University Sound driver in it that a friend had stolen from the local HS outdoor PA. I attached a length of garden hose to the treads and then I reduced it down again to a length of 1/2 inch clear plastic tubing sticking out of the bag. I had it circle once inside the bag so spit would not collect in the driver. I drove the driver with a little Gibson Skylark amplifier with an a/b switch that would also send the guitar signal to the Hiwatt stack I was using at the time. The bag hung from my mic stand. It worked great and I used it a couple of years. I only quit because I started worrying about hearing damage from bone conduction. But it was great with groupies at practice. They loved to stick that tube in their mouth while I played guitar, lol. A great ice breaker. Wish I still had it.

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    Good story olddawg! Yes, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Jeff Beck... Very important to aspiring electric guitarists back in the day! I can see why you had such an adventurous effort as "The Bag" was very expensive in 1969 at $100.00. A guess as to the inflationary rate would put this over $500.00 in today's money. Very creative of you to figure your game-plan. Yes, even the low-wattage driver could rattle the brain. Hopefully the groupies didn't suffer any bone-damage. What better way to introduce oneself? Best,REVO

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I've never seen the Kustom device, but it's not really much different that the Heil Talk Box that came out shortly afterward. Those weren't any more complicated than a high powered EV horn driver hooked up to some Tygon tubing, with a hard plastic mouthpiece on the end that you could bite down on.

    $500 today seems pretty high.

    Talk box - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

    "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    I've never seen the Kustom device, but it's not really much different that the Heil Talk Box that came out shortly afterward. Those weren't any more complicated than a high powered EV horn driver hooked up to some Tygon tubing, with a hard plastic mouthpiece on the end that you could bite down on.

    $500 today seems pretty high.
    Well how about $400 then... Keeley's been building these for a while, a bit more sophisticated than original low tech talkboxes:

    Peter Frampton Framptone products - The Framptone

    In 1981 I was assigned the task of refurbishing two of Mr. Frampton's talkboxes. They had a moulded fiberglas-resin case presumably custom made for him by Bob Heil. Peter preferred the University ID-75 phenolic-diaphragm driver, and ran his talkbox from a 100W Marshall head. About this, he said "you'll find out fast if you have any loose fillings in your teeth." The pipe was simply a piece of plastic tubing about 6 feet long, no special mouthpiece or bit. One of these is now on display at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood Florida.

    Back in the day Stevie Wonder was seen using the original Kustom "The Bag."

    An EV 1823 or 1828 hi frequency driver was another good choice - almost impossible to blow up. The EV's were also used as "police siren drivers."

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    If anyone is planning to to build one, it can easily be done using a small battery powered practice amp, a toilet plunger bell or a funnel, a speaker you can stuff in it, and some plastics tubing . You just have to make sure the speaker is well sealed in the bell. I have heard that story about using the 100 watt Marshall. But when I was using mine I used 5 watts and had to turn it down. You are just in enunciating it in front of a microphone. It basically has to be as loud as your voice. Those tiny plastic Marshall and Fender amps that are everywhere work fine.

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    Last edited by olddawg; 03-23-2013 at 05:43 AM.

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by olddawg View Post
    If anyone is planning to to build one, it can easily be done using a small battery powered practice amp, a toilet plunger bell or a funnel, a speaker you can stuff in it, and some plastics tubing .
    A toilet plunger? I bet that would sound like ... I don't want to say it.

    I don't think it makes sense to drive a HF horn driver with a 100-watt Marshall unless your intent is to make square waves that drown out your voice.

    Even if you wanted to use high quality parts like the EV drivers, you should be able to build one of these things for a lot less than $400.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    A toilet plunger? I bet that would sound like ... I don't want to say it.

    I don't think it makes sense to drive a HF horn driver with a 100-watt Marshall unless your intent is to make square waves that drown out your voice.

    Even if you wanted to use high quality parts like the EV drivers, you should be able to build one of these things for a lot less than $400.
    Seriously, if you glue a 4" speaker in a plunger bell with the speaker facing the handle opening it will sound fine. Just put a 1" piece of PVC pipe in the handle hole and stick the mouth tube to that. You fill the back side of the speaker with cardboard and foam and seal it with a plywood circle and silicon glue. Any little amp will drive it. Most have this stuff laying about. But I would suggest acquiring a new plunger.

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    Last edited by olddawg; 03-23-2013 at 06:53 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    A toilet plunger? I bet that would sound like ... I don't want to say it.

    I don't think it makes sense to drive a HF horn driver with a 100-watt Marshall unless your intent is to make square waves that drown out your voice.

    Even if you wanted to use high quality parts like the EV drivers, you should be able to build one of these things for a lot less than $400.
    heh heh, yes get a NEW plunger unless you're aiming for a super funky tone...

    That $400 is retail and besides has a rock star's name attached for extra "value". As you & olddawg note, a talk box can be cobbled together for cheap.

    When in use, the talkbox is a subsitute for the voice, much as a "growler" device is used as a subsitute larynx for those who have lost their ability to speak naturally due to disease or accident. It's not intended that the user sings while the talkbox is in use. Changing the shape of one's mouth lends speech-like tones. Even with a 100W Marshall and efficient driver, volume was equivalent to voice. By 1994 Mr. Frampton was using an early 70's 50W Marshall instead, an amp whose actual output measured about 30 watts at clip. Now he's using another gadget entirely.

    Peter learned how to use a talk box from pedal steeler Pete Drake during George Harrison's "All things must pass" sessions.

    Look up Pete Drake on Wikipedia for his explanation of the device.

    The first time I ever heard one was 1957, on an AM radio show called "Mountain Music", it was used in the intro theme. Pedal steel was the guitar source, and the words "mountain music" were "talk boxed" onto the track. Who was playing it? I'm guessing Pete Drake but I could be wrong.

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    The reason I had to build mine back in the 70s was because Heil quit making them for a while. I was told it was because of law suits because of hearing damage. I quit using mine because after 2 years I was afraid of it. If anybody out there plans to build/use one be aware they can really mess you up, especially a homemade device with a lot of power and an unknown frequency spectrum. My old one with the University driver and a 5 watt tube amp worked the best for me and even it could rattle your fillings if you were not careful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by olddawg View Post
    I only quit because I started worrying about hearing damage from bone conduction. But it was great with groupies at practice. They loved to stick that tube in their mouth while I played guitar.

    heh heh heh you said bone conduction....hows the hearing now dawg? Did you lay off the bone early enough?

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    Danelectro made a pedal just like what has been described here, a small power amp and speaker in a stomp box with a mouth tube. I can't remember the name of it, but it worked pretty well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tedmich View Post
    heh heh heh you said bone conduction....hows the hearing now dawg? Did you lay off the bone early enough?
    Considering what I have been around, my hearing is about as good as it can be for someone my age. I don't really know why though. I beat the odds.

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