VI. Commercial Models
- Danelectro Free Speech Talkbox - This item appeared in a full page ad in the 11/2002 issue of Guitar Player. Billed as the world's first "in line" talk box, the Free Speech uses two miniature mics on the tube to send the sound back to the pedal and out to your guitar amp. No microphone or PA system is needed. The unit features a die cast metal base with cool tie dye paint job. There are controls for volume and growl (overdrive), and on-off foot switch, and a status LED on the front of the unit. Groovy, baby! $129 list/$100 street.
- Rocktron Banshee - Introduced in 1997, the Banshee features an internal five watt amplifier so that it becomes a stand-alone talking guitar effect. It's a real time saver, since you don't have to connect the unit between your guitar amp and speaker cabinet (unlike non-powered models). The Banshee was hard to find for awhile, but as of spring 2002, Rocktron has the product available. New lower price: $199 list/$150 street.
- Heil Sound Talkbox - This unit is manufactured by Jim Dunlop as the model HT-1. It is enclosed in a sturdy, metal case and features a rugged push-on/push-off foot switch to engage the effect. The Heil Sound model, originally introduced in the 1970's, is a time-proven unit that will stand up to heavy gigging. It uses a real compression driver. $234.90 list/$150 street. Click here to hear a recorded example of the Heil Talkbox.
- Electro-Harmonix (E-H) Golden Throat/Golden Throat Deluxe - In the 1970's, E-H made one of the first talk box effects to include an integrated amplifier, known as the Golden Throat Deluxe. This device is now available only at vintage boutiques. E-H also made a standard version that did not contain an amp, known as the Golden Throat. There were rumors that Mike Matthews was considering reissuing this effect, but an E-H spokesman denied that it was in their current plans. I guess we'll have to wait and see. E-H has certainly been busy reissuing several other classic effects boxes from their line, so it makes sense that they'll reach the Golden Throat models some day.
- Kustom Bag - Amplifier manufacturer Kustom produced one of the earliest talkboxes, which they called The Bag. This early 1970s creation enclosed a compression in a suede pouch that the guitarist wore over his/her shoulder. This method could still be employed by someone wanting to make their own unit today. Audiences of the day probably thought it was either a weird bagpipe arrangement, or maybe a hookah water pipe/bong!
- Pignose Amp Talkbox Mod - Alfonso Hermida wrote the author about a 1970's device to convert a 5-watt Pignose battery-powered guitar amp into a talkbox:
"I was checking out your talkbox page and recalled an idea someone had some time ago: they made up a plate that would cover the speaker on a Pignose amp. The plate had a hole in the middle and the tube came out of it. The Pignose amp would become an instant talkbox."
I remember hearing about this back in the late 70's. I had a Pignose amp back then but didn't have the plate. I don't recall if it was a factory mod or if it was a third party add-on, but I seem to remember that it was a black disc (metal or plastic) with provision for the vinyl tube. The disc was removable so you could enjoy the regular speaker sound from the Pignose. Do any of you have a copy of the ad or a digital photo of the modification in use? Send it in if you do. This page would be a good place to archive it. Thanks, Alfonso, for jogging my memory!
- Electro-Harmonix Soul Kiss - Mike Matthews marketed an effect called The Soul Kiss in the 1990's. This was an optoelectronic unit that produced talkbox-like effects, albeit electronically. The author saw some new units being blown out for pennies on the dollar a few years ago, so presumably this was not a commercial success for E-H. It is not currently being manufactured.
- Korg AX30G - Korg produced the AX30G guitar multieffects unit during the mid 1990s that included a pretty good talk box simulation. A pressure pedal allowed vowel-type modulation of the guitar signal, which was passed to the guitar amp. Back when ths EX30G listed for $425 US, it was cheaper to buy an actual talkbox, unless you had a need for the other effect that the unit provided. The advantage to the AX30G was that it was quick to set up, no tube or microphone was needed, and it sounded pretty good if the guitarist only needed generic sounds. I'll bet you can find this pedal used for less than a hundred bucks nowadays.
- DigiTech RP2000 Modeling Effects System - No longer manufactured, this late 1990s multieffect floor system included a built-in "talker" effect. I own one and appreciate how easy it is to use. Just plug in a low-Z mic into the XLR jack in the back, dial up the Talker patch, and start playing. Unlike a regular talkbox, you actually talk or sing into the mic in order to modulate the guitar sound. The pitch of what you sing doesn't get translated, but the vowel sounds do. Thus, this is more of a vocorder effect than a talkbox, but it's still pretty cool.
- DigiTech Talker - DigiTech also made a separate effect unit they called the Guitar Talker Vocal Processor. It's actually a type of vocorder, so it requires no speaker connection. The sound it produces is amplified by the guitarist's guitar amplifier. The Talker sounds great with guitar or keyboards. As of September 2000, Digitech no longer carries information about this product on their web site, but you may be able to find some information in their archive.