talk box done right Peter Frampton

Six examples of the Talk Box done right

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If you’re looking for inspiration on how to integrate this inventive effects pedal into your own work, check out the following performances of the Talk Box done right.

In “Meet the Talk Box: Shape sounds and open new creative doors,” I offered an introduction to the funky, gritty, and versatile effects pedal that lets you make guitars talk and synthesizers sing. Artists have been using the Talk Box in creative ways for decades, so if you’re looking for inspiration on how to integrate the effects pedal into your own work, check out the these six great performances.

Do You Feel Like We Do (Peter Frampton)

Mellow out to this classic jam starting at 5:50. Sometimes using the Talk Box to riff on various words, other times just applying it to subtly morph the guitar’s tonality as he’s soloing, Frampton shows in a single performance just how many different flavors and textures the Talk Box can help create with a powerful guitar sound as its sonic input.

Livin’ On a Prayer (Bon Jovi)

Starting around 2:08, Richie Sambora engages the Talk Box, giving this arena anthem’s signature guitar riff a boosted level of grit and swirling motion. His underscoring of Jon Bon Jovi’s lyrics makes the transition to the epic chorus, when Sambora disengages the pedal, just that much more punchy and effective.

Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith)

Starting out with a psychedelic space jam, this classic track gains flavor and texture from Joe Perry’s hoots and wails through the Talk Box. As with the above example, switching from Talk Box to no Talk Box on the guitar makes for a powerful transition between sections of the song.

So Ruff, So Tuff (Zapp and Roger)

New York producer, keyboardist, and Talk Box expert Julian Pollack cites Roger Troutman as the king of keyboard and Talk Box magic — and this video proves it. Listen to how effortlessly Troutman makes the keyboard-plus-talk-box hybrid sound as natural, ballsy, and expressive as his own voice. Also note how, as Pollack recommended in our previous article, Troutman uses the pitch bend and modulation capabilities of his synth to add some great expressiveness to his playing.

Also, to hear more of the master at work, be sure to check out Troutman talking about the Talk Box — and demoing it — in this video.

I’m From Ohio (John Hurd)

According to the Electro-Harmonix blog, this video of John Hurd was made in tribute to Troutman after the master keyboardist’s murder in 1999. Its tragic inspiration aside, this is a virtuoso demonstration of the Golden Throat Talk Box in action.

24K Magic (Bruno Mars)

Though it doesn’t look like the Talk Box is being used as part of this live performance, its sonic fingerprint is certainly present in the song’s backing tracks. Note how the reedy, electronic/organic Talk Box vocals set the stage for the funk to come in the song’s prelude — and how Talk Box vocals underscore the breakdown midway through to help change up the mood.

For more on the killer keyboardist behind the Talk Box magic for this track, check out

Do you have other favorite examples of artists using the Talk Box? Tell us in the comments below!

Main image screen captured from embedded video of Peter Frampton performing.

Disc Makers’ regular contributor Michael Gallant’s debut trio album Completely received a four-star review from DownBeat magazine and a five-star review from Critical Jazz, which stated: “This, my friends, is the future of jazz. Fresh, invigorating, progressive – there are simply not enough positive adjectives to list here.” Learn more, download through iTunes, or purchase through CD Baby. Follow Michael on Twitter at @Michael_Gallant or on Facebook.

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Michael Gallant

About Michael Gallant

Michael Gallant is a musician, writer, and entrepreneur living in New York City. His debut album for the Steinway & Sons label, Rock Rewind, features solo piano reinventions of Pearl Jam, U2, Halestorm, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, and more. Read his recent article for the National Endowment for the Arts and follow Michael on Twitter at @Michael_Gallant and

6 thoughts on “Six examples of the Talk Box done right

  1. I remember seeing on TV, ages ago, Steppenwolf doing a Talkbox thing using Kustom’s “The Bag.” But that was many moons ago.
    I was thinking because I didn’t see it included here that maybe they DIDN’T do it right.

  2. Livin’ On A Prayer had no earthly reason to have a talk box. It added absolutely nothing to the song. What SHOULD have been on this list is Those Shoes by the Eagles, with the dual talk boxes in harmony and razor-sharp precision, and the “butt out…butt out” in the bridge and the end! Geez Louise, what an oversight!

  3. You missed two great ones: Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh, and Those Shoes by the Eagles, featuring dual talk box work by Joe Walsh and Don Felder.

  4. Pingback: Meet The Vocoder: Make Your Synth Sing | Disc Makers Blog

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