"How does he make that guitar talk?" listeners often wonder when they hear Peter Frampton noodle around.
It's not the drugs or drink you imbibed that's making you think his guitar is vocalizing. Rather, it's an intended effect achieved through technology. The English rock legend uses an effects unit called a talk box, which allows him to control the modification of the guitar's sound by changing the shape of his mouth.
As Peter Frampton makes his way to Hard Rock Live this Sunday night, let's celebrate ten other practitioners of the talk box.
10. Alvino Rey
Bandleader Alvino Rey was the first known user of a talk box. All the way back in 1939 Rey utilized a carbon throat microphone on his wife Luise King who mouthed the words while a bizarre guitar puppet received all the credit in this black and white short.
9. Jeff Beck
The one time Yardbird has always been a guitar experimentalist and never more so than on this cover of The Beatles' "She's a Woman."
8. Pete Drake
The Nashville steel guitar legend could never figure out how to get his talk box loud enough to be used outside a studio for live performances, but those records were magical. His live performances, not so much as evidenced by this awkward rendition of "Forever."
7. Joe Walsh
The only member of the Eagles even The Big Lebowski could abide by was the first to use the high powered talkbox devised by Bob Heil during his early 1970s tour. Here in a recent performance of "Rocky Mountain Way" Walsh shows how powerful Heil's talk box can still be.
6. The Who
Pete Townsend used the Sonovox which attached small loudspeakers to the performer's throat rather than a microphone for a talk box effect on 1967's "The Who Sell Out" where his guitar sings out the days of the week.
5. Tom Morello
The Rage Against the Machine guitarist is more famous for getting his guitar to sound like the scratching of a turntable than anything else, but on the track "Wake Up" for Rage's eponymous debut, he uses the talk box to stand out in the era of grunge.
4. Sly & The Family Stone
The great funk band used a Kustom Electronics Talk Box known as the Bag for their 1969 thirteen minute jam "Sex Machine."
3. Joe Perry
The Aerosmith guitarist can't get enough of the talk box. Not only using it for classics like "Walk this Way" and "Sweet Emotion," but also for not-so classic theme songs like the one he did for a Spider-Man animated series in the 1990s.
The Guns N Roses guitarist snuck the effect on one song an album including "Anything Goes" on Appetite for Destruction and "Dust and Bones" off Use Your Illusion 1. The talk box might be one of the reasons Axl broke up the band as evidenced by this clip where the rest of Guns N Roses would leave the stage when he started making his guitar talk.
1. Peter Frampton
After December 25, 1974, the talk box was never the same. That Christmas, Peter Frampton received a gift from Tom Heil and went right to work on the Frampton Comes Alive tour and album with the talk box playing a meaty role, never more famously than on the hit single "Show Me The Way."
Peter Frampton. 7 p.m. Sunday, October 5, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $49 to $69 plus fees. Call 954-797-5531, or visit hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com.
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