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Telefunken | USA™ Completes Restoration of Zappa Microphone Collection

Rare Systec Harmonic Energizer Now on Tour With Dweezil

Pictured in Frank Zappa's Utility Muffin Research Kitchen are (L-R) Dweezil Zappa with a vintage Telefunken U47; Telefunken | USA CEO Toni Fishman; and Charlie Bolois, the company's West Coast service and restoration specialist. Photo by David Goggin.

Los Angeles, CA, June, 2007 — The restoration of Frank Zappa's vintage mic collection, begun in 2005, is now complete. The project began with a visit and evaluation by Telefunken | USA CEO Toni Fishman and was completed by Charlie Bolois, the company's West Coast service specialist. Zappa also took possession of a new Telefunken | USA U47, one of a new line of microphones which faithfully recreate the legendary vintage Telefunken sound.

Toni Fishman explained, "Frank Zappa had assembled a very original and complete collection of extremely rare and valuable German and Austrian microphones, unused since his death. We dismantled and carefully evaluated the condition of the mics, performed numerous minor repairs, replaced some of the tubes with NOS (New Old Stock) tubes, and then worked on mic systems integration by matching up the correct power supplies and cables.

"We went through three Telefunken U47s, four Neumann M49s, a beautiful matched pair of Neumann M50s, circa 1950, and four AKG C24s, circa 1960. We also worked on an AKG C-12A that was missing a cable and power supply and rebuilt a custom Telefunken Ela M251 using the existing capsule. It was an impressive collection, but if microphones are unused they tend to deteriorate, so we've given them a renewed life and got them up and running for Dweezil's upcoming projects."

In the second phase of the project, Zappa met with Toni Fishman and Charlie Bolois to evaluate the remaining mics and other Zappa gear. Bolois concentrated on two U67s, nicknamed "The Champ" and "Schneider" by Frank Zappa. "Neither had a power supply," explained Bolois. "First I worked with a number of Zappa cables with various problems and made two good working cables with swivel mounts. Toni Fishman provided two custom power supplies which I adjusted to the correct voltages specifically for each mic. I also replaced the tubes in both, using NOS selected for low noise and low microphonics. A third mic, a vintage M49, required repair of the original Neumann power supply, various tune-ups and a capsule replacement."

After the restoration of the microphone collection, Dweezil unearthed various family treasures, including the rare Systec Harmonic Energizer guitar pedal. Bolois restored the unit to working order and Dweezil identified it as one used by Frank in the 1970s "Roxy and Elsewhere" album period. He has incorporated it in his current "Zappa Plays Zappa" concert tour.

"There is just nothing like it, and it's definitely a treat to have this for our performances of Frank's music." It is hoped that Telefunken | USA will be able to reverse engineer and recreate the unit, as they have done with numerous vintage microphones of the past.

Among other treasures pulled out of storage is "some form of a compressor," explained Bolois. "It's definitely hand made. Somebody adapted a compressor/limiter circuit board that utilized a Telefunken device. Once we figure out what it is and get it working, we'll hear what it sounds like and take it from there..."

For more information on Dweezil Zappa and the Zappa Plays Zappa project, please visit



TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik strives for absolute perfection. By offering historic recreations of classic microphones alongside their own proprietary designs based around the distinctive tube mic sound, TELEFUNKEN has established a product line that expertly combines vintage style and sound with the reliability of a modern-day microphone design. TELEFUNKEN's commitment to both the sonic excellence and quality of all of their products is rivaled only by their dedication to provide the best possible service to their customers.

Press Contact: David Goggin 323.465.5637