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The Talkbox FAQ

IV. Connection and Preparation

You'll want to make certain that you have quick and convenient access to the talkbox pn/off switch and the all-important sound tube. When your solo comes up, you want to be able to dive right in without fussing about with cables, switches and tubing. This is especially true if you're the only guitarist in the band.

  1. If the tube is not long enough, you can place the talkbox on a chair or equipment case to get it close enough to the mic stand. You could also shorten the mic boom or replace the talkbox tube with a longer one.

  2. Connect the Speaker Out of the amp to the Amp jack of the talkbox. Run a second cable from the Speaker jack of the talkbox to the speaker cabinet. Don't use a mic cable for this! Buy a cable designed for use with speaker cabinets. since you'll likely be using the talkbox several feet from the amp, especially if you're using it on stage, buy a pair of 20 or 25 foot cables that are 14 gauge or better. (The smaller the number, the thicker the conductor inside the cable. Smaller is better in this case.) The absolute minimum gauge to use is 16 gauge, for very short runs. 14 is better, and 12 is great if you can afford it.

  3. If you use a combo amp, it may not have a speaker output jack. In this case, you'll need to splice in a pair of jacks and connect them with a short cable when you're not using the talkbox (or use a switching jack so that if nothing is inserted, the two jacks are automatically connected so that sound defaults to the built-in speaker in your combo amp). Or you could buy a long speaker cable, cut in off in the middle, and use wire nuts to attach the wire ends to the wire running between the amp and the speaker (you'll cut this wire, too). You'll definitely want to label each one at the plug end, so that you don't forget which is which). Your local music store would be more than happy to do this for you for a small fee.

  4. Most talkboxes have an impedance of 16 ohms. The rule of thumb is that, if possible, you want to set your amp to the same impedance as the load (speakr or talkbox driver). However, you can use a load that is greater than what the amp is designed for. The amp just has to work harder, and will produce less output power. If you have a choice between a talkbox driver of 8 or 16 ohms, stick with the 16 ohm model. Otherwise, you run the risk an impedance mismatch that could cause your amp to fail.

    For example: Marshall half stack owners use a cabinet that is 16 ohms and a head that can be set to 8 or 16 ohms (many heads also allow 4 ohm loads). If yours is switched to 16 ohms to drive that model 1960A angled 4x12 Celestion cabinet and you use an 8 ohm talkbox, you're asking for trouble. Have your music store install an 8 ohm resistor (heavy duty wirewound type) in series with the talkbox driver. This will effectively change the impedance of the talkbox to 16 ohms. Don't install it in parallel or you've halved the load and will turn your Marshall into a fog machine!

    You could set your head to the 8 ohm setting and operate a single 16 ohm cabinet and an 8 ohm talkbox. The down side is that your amp will be pushing hard to drive the heavier (16 ohm) load. then when you push the button and switch to the internal driver, suddenly the burden has lifted and your amp is producing a full-out roar into the tiny little driver. Chances are that you'll blow the driver in the talkbox.

  5. Adjust the volume of your amp to stage volume. Test the level of the talkbox by depressing the switch. If you don't hear a signal, stop immediately and check your cables. You don't want to operate your amp at high volume settings without a load.

  6. If the talkbox output is too loud, this means that you'll have to back down on the guitar volume control as soon as you switch to the talkbox. Remember that the horn driver is very efficient. A little wattage goes a long way.

  7. Now you're all set to jam. Click the foot switch to toggle between speaker cabinet and talkbox. Put your lips around the tube that is in front of your vocal microphone. Play notes on the guitar and move your lips and voila! Talking guitar!

    Or you could buy a self-contained unit (i.,e., E-H Deluxe Golden Throat, Rocktron Banshee) and simply plug it in like an effect pedal. The cost for these units is considerably higher, but you can offset this by the quicker setup and take down, and fewer cords and cables to pack. Don't forget to take an AC extension cord with you!

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