How Talk Boxes Work

How Talk Boxes Work: Author's Note

Jane McGrath, Staff Writer
Jane McGrath, Staff Writer
HowStuffWorks 2009

When Peter Frampton’s classic "Show Me the Way" comes on the radio, I can't help but crank up the volume. But I, like many, had no idea how Frampton was able to manipulate his guitar the way that he did for his distinctive sound. That’s what made this assignment especially fun. The device is surprisingly simple, but still struck me in that I can’t believe how anyone thought it up. I also had no idea that the trick was so old. I'm a fan of Big Band music, but had never heard of Alvino Rey’s "St. Louis Blues" with the talking steel guitar he named "Stringy." Step back in time and take a look at the bizarre clip of this performance that’s available on YouTube. And if you’ve never heard Pete Drake’s “Forever,” this is a charming classic that’s also worth a listen. Although the talk box may never again see the fame it did in the 1970s, its unique sound has cemented a place in rock history as well as in the hearts of rock fans, like this one.


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