What is a Talk box and how does it work


Have you ever wondered how a Talk Box really works? I’ve wanted to get one of these things ever since I bought the legendary Frampton Comes Alive way back in 1978. If I still have your attention then read on!

A Talk Box is referred to as either an effects unit/device or pedal. This device first showed up way back in the 1930’s but who the heck was around then to remember it now. So let’s fast for ward to the mid 70’s when it became popular again by Peter Frampton.

First off the Talk Box receives or takes in an electronic signal (let’s say through a guitar chord to simplify things here). This signal comes from an electrical instrument coming directly from an amplifier. This signal is played through a fairly small internal speaker.

Peter Frampton's origonal Talk Box

Peter Frampton’s original Talk Box

Now they have this airtight flexible plastic tube that captures the sound and shoots it towards the open end which you place into you mouth. On all pedals there is a toggle  switch that allows the musician to send the signal to the amplifier or to this tube. You can use your lips, tongue or mouth to help form the distinctive sound that you are looking for. At this point you can project this captured sound back out your mouth and into the microphone.

So there you have it!

Keep on Jammin’

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  1. Ross Jones says

    You might also be interested in Guitar Synth. Timo Laine Symphonic Slam is known for being the Godfather of Guitar Synth.

  2. Luke says

    Finally i know what one of these things is called. You don’t know how many times i’ve watched the smashing pumpkins live online wondering what this thing was. Going on ebay right now to look for one.

  3. Finbarr Smith says

    My brother tried to make one of these with some tubing and a beercan… to very little effect.
    I have found you can do a similar effect with one bud of a pair of in-ear headphones held between the lips… but was looking for plans to make a proper one.
    Are you planning on doing a “make your own guitar talkbox” post?
    That would be awesome :)
    I do a Michael Buble tribute show but he does soooo many slow songs I’m trying to rock some of them up, maybe give them an ELO spin?
    If you do know of a talkbox how-to then that would be great.