Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Talk Boxes Work


Talk Boxes: Cheat Sheet

Stuff you need to know:

  • A talk box is a device that allows a musician to create words through the sound of an instrument. It is what made Peter Frampton’s famous talking-guitar sound possible.
  • It is not the same as Auto-Tune, wah-wah pedal or even a vocoder.
  • The talk box is a simple device that drives an instrument’s sound through a tube into a person’s mouth. Movements of the mouth can then manipulate the sound to come out as decipherable words.
  • The device dates back to at least the 1930s, when it was used in Big Band music and was later used in a Gold record country music hit in 1964. It finally reached a peak in popularity in the 1970s, when it was used in several rock music hit songs.

Now, test your knowledge with these quizzes!

Check out these image galleries!